Whittemore Park Middle School has not one, but two undefeated basketball teams.
Coach Jamilah Swinton received an unexpected Gatorade shower after her girls completed an unbeaten campaign with a 29-5 victory at city rival Conway Middle School this past week. Ta’Maria Johnson, who led WPMS in scoring for the season, paced the offensive attack with 19 points.
The unbeaten season was somewhat of a surprise for Swinton.
‘At the start of tryouts in November, I was like ‘oh, no, this is going to be a rough year.’ Each girl improved drastically as the season went on,” Swinton said.
“It’s the first time we’ve gone undefeated in Whittemore Park history,” Swinton said. “I never thought it would happen. I’m extremely proud of them.”
A former varsity player at Conway High School, Swinton has served as head coach for the past six seasons. The Tigers finished 9-2 this past season after winning only one game just several years ago.
Following Johnson in scoring was Saniah Richardson. The top defender was Ayana Mishoe.
According to Swinton, Aynor gave WPMS its closest game in December, but Mishoe did a good job of holding the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer in check when the teams met for a rematch. WPMS was also bolstered in its final match by Ta’Niyah Grady, who returned after missing about half of the season.
Other members of the team are Sydney Livingston, Shaniya Ferguson, Aspasia Rogers, Desiree Wall, Jamirha Ferguson and Miyana Williams.
Natoya McCray assisted Swinton with the coaching duties.
Coach Rodney Bellamy’s boys’ team also finished undefeated for the first time.
“It was kinda a surprise considering we had an eighth grader who moved up to jayvee, and another guy who went through tryouts and would have been in the starting lineup moved a week before the season started,” Bellamy said.
Team unity and unselfishness were big pluses for the Tigers all season.
“We played very well together,” Bellamy said. “There was never a time in a game all season where anyone was concerned about who was going to score. They were very unselfish.”
The leading scorer and rebounder was Elijah Huffman and the defensive specialist was Jameek Dukes.
“We always put Jameek on the other team’s best guard,” Bellamy said. “He did a great job.”
WPMS averaged about 45 points per game and allowed just 25. The Tigers’ closest game was an eight-point victory over Aynor.
WPMS was also a seasoned team of eighth graders with Demarcus Robinson being the lone seventh grader.
Other members of the team were Khiam Davis, D.J. Phillips, Treyshawn Davis, Kenya Keith, Brandon Ingram, Emmanuel Stanley, Jeffrey White, Jonathan Hicks and Jonah Freshley.
“I’m very proud of the way they played and the way they handled themselves,” Bellamy said. “They did a great job.”
According to Bellamy, Myrtle Beach also finished the season with an unbeaten record.
“It would be great if we could play them for the county championship,” he said.
Assisting with the coaching duties were Kelvin Galloway and Jeff Pilcher.