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Jeannette grad Cook embraces role at Coastal Carolina

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 9:50 p.m.
Kayla Cook, a Jeannette grad, is a team captain this year at Coastal Carolina University. PHOTOS:Coastal Carolina Media Relations
Cook looks to make a move in a game at Coastal Carolina this season.

Kayla Cook admits she's a different player this year than she was during her first two years of college basketball.

“I've gotten a lot better,” said Cook, a Jeannette High School graduate. “I'm becoming more mature as a player. In high school, I had to take every shot. Here, I've learned to look for others because they're going to look for me.”

In other words, she's embracing her role.

“There's no question she's more mature,” said head coach Alan LeForce. “A lot of young ladies come out of high school and they were the first or second-best player on the team.

“Everybody plays to them and so on. So, in college, you get a bunch of them in the same situation. You just have to adjust and play with other people. This year, she's doing that.”

The result is that Cook, a 5-foot 10-inch junior shooting guard, is playing a bigger role for the Chanticleers. For one thing, she's a team captain.

Statistically, she's sixth on the team with 61 points, a 5.1 per game average, for NCAA Division I Coastal which entered the week 7-7 overall, 2-2 in the Big South Conference.

While a back injury kept her out of the lineup twice and limited in a few others, she has played in 12 of the Chanticleers' 14 games. She's started seven games.

“She's been playing off of the bench because, when she comes in, she brings us some instant offense,” said LeForce.

The coach does expect Cook to start more and more as the year goes on. Additionally, during the games she doesn't start, she still may play as many minutes as the starters.

“Really we have seven or eight starters,” he said. “Kayla has a good attitude. She's adjusted to that role, coming off of the bench. It's not that she doesn't deserve to start, but when she comes off the bench, she provides a spark.”

LeForce attributes much of Cook's success to her impressive work ethic.

“She worked as hard as anyone ever has for us in the offseason,” he said.

Cook started in Coastal's 64-56 win over Charleston Southern on Saturday, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds.

“She puts the ball on the floor well, takes it to the basket,” said LeForce.

“Because of her strength factor, she makes some shots around the basket, and her outside shot, she worked on it the whole summer. It's improved.”

Cook said her focus is on team success and racking up Big South wins.

“We're a way better team that last year. We've moved forward a lot, and we still don't have seniors,” she said. “Team-wise, to we want to do well in conference (play) and get high seed in the conference tournament.”

The team hosts High Point in a conference game tonight at 7.

The game will be broadcast at goccusports.com.

Weightman to play in NYCBL

College baseball season isn't even here yet, but already Brian Weightman has baseball lined up for after the college season.

Weightman, a Jeannette grad, could be in contention as a junior for a starting outfield spot at Division I St. Bonaventure during the college season. After that campaign wraps up, Weightman will play in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, a wooden bat league.

Weightman will play for the Geneva Red Wings, a team owned by Texas Rangers scout Dave Herbst.

For 35 years, the NYCBL has served as a development league for professional baseball. The league gives college players who have not yet signed a professional contract the opportunity to develop their skills at a higher level of play in front of pro scouts.

DePalma Edinboro Athlete of the Week

Jeannette grad Michael DePalma, a redshirt freshman on the Edinboro University wrestling team, was named the school's male Athlete of the Week last week.

In the team's match with the University of Buffalo Sunday, DePalma trailed 4-0 after two periods against Wally Maziarz at the 157-pound weight class. He grabbed a quick takedown to start the third period to make it 4-2, let his opponent loose to make it 5-2, then took him down again to make it 5-4.

Rapidly, DePalma let Maziarz escape once more then took him down a third time to make it 6-6. DePalma turned his opponent to the mat, collected three near fall points and a riding time point to grab a 10-6 victory.

Team-wise, Edinboro won 28-9. DePalma is now 17-6 this season.

Division I Edinboro is 4-1 in dual meet action. The squad will compete in the University of Virginia Duals this weekend.

Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.

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