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In basketball just as in life, sometimes a trip home can make all the difference in the world.
After a brutal stretch during which the Coastal Carolina University women's basketball team lost 11 of 14 games, Jeannette High School graduate Kayla Cook and the Chanticleers have won three straight games, all at home. More importantly, the wins were all victories in the NCAA Division I Big South Conference, meaning that a favorable spot in the conference tournament at the end of the season is still possible.
In other words, all of a sudden, a bit of meaning has been injected back into the season.
The streak started on Jan. 26 with a 73-62 home win against UNC Asheville; Cook, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, had five total points.
Then, on Jan. 31, Cook played a major role in Coastal's dramatic 66-62 win against Longwood. The local product was tied for second on the team with 10 points as the Chanticleers rallied from a 17-point second half deficit to grab the win. Cook hit a key three-pointer with 3:34 left to play to spark the comeback.
The streak continued with a narrow 52-51 victory over Radford this past Saturday, this one again coming in dramatic fashion. Coastal went up 52-50 with 10 seconds left. Radford's Breshara Gordon was fouled on a drive to the hoop with seconds left, then hit one of two shots from the line.
Then her teammate, Ashley Buckhannon, hit what appeared to be a flawless three-pointer at the buzzer, which would have dealt Coastal a loss. However, an official review determined that time expired before the shot was off, giving Coastal the narrow win. Cook had six points in the win.
Cook now has 9.6 points on the season, a 4.8 per game average. She also has 17 steals and 61 rebounds.
The Chanticleers are now 10-12 overall and 5-7 in conference play. Most impressively, they are 9-4 at home but just 1-7 on the road.
The team hits the road again this Saturday for a game at UNC Asheville (3-20, 0-12) beginning at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast at GoCCUSports.com.
Loughner having big season
Jeannette area native Sarah Loughner, a junior on the Clarion track and field team, is having quite a season.
She qualified for the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference indoor championships earlier this season. Then, at the Youngstown State Invitational, Loughner took 15th in the high jump with a leap of 5-feet, 1-inch. Most recently, the Penn-Trafford grad took third in the Mount Union Invitational on Saturday with a jump of 4-feet, 11-and-three-quarter inches.
Loughner and Clarion will compete in the Baldwin-Wallace Invitational this Friday, then the Kent State “Last Chance Meet” on Feb. 16 before the PSAC Championships, which begin on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Young grabbing wins at WVU
Another local product having a big winter sports season is Jeannette area native Shane Young, a senior 125-pounder on the Division I West Virginia University Wrestling team. The Penn-Trafford grad is 9-3 overall.
On Saturday, Young grabbed one of WVU's three victories — an 8-3 victory over Godwin Nyama — in WVU's 31-9 loss to Pitt. Young protected leads of 2-1 and 3-2 after the first and second periods before opening up the margin in the third.
Team-wise, WVU is 1-8 and 0-3 in the Big XII Conference.
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.
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