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College watch: Cook leads Coastal Carolina into tourney

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jeannette graduate Kayla Cook and the Coastal Carolina University womens basketball team have a big tournament coming up this week.
Jeannette graduate Kayla Cook and the Coastal Carolina University womens basketball team have a big tournament coming up this week. PHOTOS:Submitted
Kayla Cook's game has improved as the Chanticleers' season has improved.
Kayla Cook's game has improved as the Chanticleers' season has improved.

The Coastal Carolina University womens basketball team has been sometimes-hot and sometimes-not throughout this season.

However, as the Chanticleers and Jeannette High School graduate Kayla Cook enter the NCAA Division I Big South Conference tournament this week, their confidence is sky-high.

One of the reasons for the optimism is the team's play as of late. Another reason is that the Big South Conference Tournament will be held at the HTC Center, Coastal's home court.

“We're really confident,” said Cook, a junior shooting guard. “We feel great about playing at home, preparing for games on our home court. We're used to playing there, so we're feeling kind of good about (the tournament).”

The season has been a roller-coaster for Cook and the Chanticleers, who are 13-15 overall and 8-10 in the Big South. They won six of their first eight games before dropping 11 of 12 contests. Just when it appeared the bottom would fall out on the season, they rebounded by winning six of their seven games before the inconsistency bug struck again in two straight losses to end the regular season.

Even amid that erratic performance, one thing has remained consistent: Coastal is a decidedly better team at home. The team was 10-5 at home this season.

“We went through a stretch during the season when we weren't winning, but now we're starting to play together,” said Cook. “We play together, we started to win games.”

Cook's play picked up significantly during the late-season charge.

The highlight came when she had a career-high 17 points in an overtime win against Charleston Southern on Feb. 21.

She also tied for the team lead with 11 points in a 58-53 loss to High Point in the season finale.

“I've been more aggressive. I'm starting to shoot the ball more . . . and my shots are looking better,” said Cook.

The local product is averaging 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

Coastal played Gardner-Webb in the first round of the Big South Tournament last night (March 6) but results were not available as of press time.

Results and live broadcasts are available at

DePalma Ready for EWL Tournament

Another local product preparing for a big post-season conference tournament is Michael DePalma.

The Jeannette graduate and his teammates on the Edinboro University wrestling team will compete in the Division I Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) individual tournament this weekend. The tournament will be held at Edinboro.

DePalma, a redshirt freshman, is the team's starter at the 157-pound weight class, though he missed the last three dual meets of the season with a skin infection.

He has a 20-10 overall record with three pins, one technical fall and a team-high eight major decisions.

Young prepares for Big XII Tournament

Also in Division I wrestling, Jeannette area native Shane Young, a Penn-Trafford grad, will compete in the Big XII Duals Tournament this Friday, in Stillwater, Okla.

Young, a senior 125-pounder at West Virginia University, is 12-3 this season.

Team-wise, WVU struggled in its first year in the Big XII, going 2-10 overall and 0-3 in conference dual meets.

Weightman's bat is already hot

In the cold temperatures of the early college baseball season, Jeannette grad Brian Weightman is red-hot.

The Jeannette, a junior outfielder on the Division I St. Bonaventure team, has a .429 batting average and a .985 OPS in the early going.

He's played in four games, starting one, and collected seven at bats.

He has three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs.

Overall, St. Bonaventure entered the week 3-5.

The Bonnies' schedule really heads up on March 15 when they begin a four-game home series against Rider.

Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.

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