Greenbrier might be the top dog in girls basketball in Columbia County, but that was not the case a few years ago.
Lakeside made a very good run in 2002-03, which included a 19-win season and a top 10 ranking. The Lady Panthers were led by guards Toya Coard and Nichole Bennett.
Coard was a long-range bomber, while Bennett was the versatile player. When their prep careers came to an end, both were offered scholarships to play basketball at the college level.
Bennett, a two-time All-County performer, spent two seasons at Seminole Community College in Sanford, Fla., and is now a junior guard at USC Aiken. Coard, a former county player of the year, chose to play for Albany State, and she is now a sophomore for the Rams.
Bennett has played in 19 games for the Lady Pacers, averaging 1.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. The 5-foot-9 guard is shooting 83.3 percent from the free-throw line. USC Aiken is 10-15 on the season and is preparing for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.
Coard has emerged as one of the top 3-point shooters in the SIAC Conference. The 5-5 sophomore has nailed 44 3-pointers this season despite playing only 20 minutes per game. Also, the rest of the Albany State team has combined to make only 36 shots from long range. She averages 6.8 points per game and she is fourth on the team in steals and assists.
Coard also has a hot hand. She is ninth in the conference in shooting, hitting 31 percent (44-of-142) of her 3-pointers. The former Lakeside star is also fourth in the SIAC in 3-pointers made at 1.78 per game. The Lady Rams are 13-12 on the season.
Coard's future is extremely bright. She could become an All-Conference performer before her career at Albany State is over.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.