Alan Hawes // The Post and Courier
Goose Creek’s Aleighsa Welch (left) and West Ashley’s Shane Heyward are the All-Lowcountry girls and boys players of the year.
West Ashley basketball coach Ronnie DuPre describes Wildcats star Shane Heyward as quiet and humble, a person who doesn't like to talk about himself.
But opposing coaches had plenty to say about Heyward, The Post and Courier's boys basketball player of the year.
"West Ashley would have struggled without him," said Goose Creek coach Brad Dobbels of the 6-5 senior who led the Wildcats to a 19-7 record and averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds per game.
"Without him, they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs. With him, they came up one point short of reaching the (Class AAAA) Lower State championship game."
Said Wando coach David Eaton: "He blocks or bothers everything that comes in the lane and truly became a scary post player to guard this year."
Another imposing player from the area is Goose Creek's Aleighsa Welch, who earns her third straight girls player of the year honor.
Welch, who signed to play college basketball with South Carolina, had another typical season, leading the Gators to the state championship game for the second year in a row. She averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.2 blocked shots and 3.5 steals. She was the Class AAAA state player of the year and played in the Carolinas All-Star Challenge.
Heyward saved his best for last to lead the Wildcats to eight victories in their last 10 games. His best game came in the second round of the playoffs, when he scored 22 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in a 25-point win over North Augusta.
"Shane continues to amaze me," DuPre said. "He's a quiet and humble guy who just keeps putting up the numbers."
Heyward was just as impressive when he scored 20 points in a one-point loss to eventual state champion Lexington in the third round of the playoffs.
Welch also had plenty of playoff experience. She led the Gators to the state title in 2010, scoring 36 points in a victory over Spring Valley. She led the Gators to a 27-3 record and back to the state title game this year, only to come up short against the Spring Valley.
She is one of the most decorated and successful girls to ever play basketball in the Lowcountry. She made the varsity team as an eighth-grader and helped the Gators to a 102-11 record since her freshman year. The Gators played in four Lower State championships and two state championships with Welch in the lineup.
"When she graduates, it's going to be a huge loss for us," Goose Creek coach Tim Baldwin said. "But, it's going to be a big gain for the Gamecock Nation. She truly is one of the elite players in the state. Everybody bases a player's performance on their statistics, but she has that drive to be a winner on and off the court."
Joining Welch on the girls first team: Timberland's Rateska Brown, Woodland's Shakiema Ravenell, Northwood's Amber Campbell, and Summerville's Shanolla Council.
On the boys first team with Heyward: James Island's C.J. Bray, Hanahan's JaRon Denmark, Goose Creek's Raemond Robinson and Baptist Hill's Shaquiell Mitchell.
Eaton is boys coach of the year. He led the Warriors to a 22-2 regular season record, with the two losses coming by a combined four points. The Warriors won the Region 7-AAAA championship and the Roundball Classic title.
Timberland's Cleve Touchberry is the girls coach of the year. He led the Wolves to a 25-2 record and the Class AA state championship. It marked the second time Touchberry led his team to the state title.
Reach Philip M. Bowman at 937-5592. Follow him on Twitter: @pandcphil.