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Jai-Jai to fuel BHS girls

Deemed “The Corporation” by new head coach Richard Cowan, Bearden High School Girls Basketball is looking for high dividends sparked by a talented, experience point guard and tough-minded supporting cast.

Cowan, back at BHS after coaching there for more than 20 years through 2001, said his 2010-11 Lady Bulldogs are going to “have to lean” on the toughness of junior point guard Jai-Jai McLaughlin and senior power forward Mary-Mc Alexander.

Having lost four starters to graduation, the rest of Cowan's BHS girls “are going to have to be tougher than they probably ever thought they'd ever have to be on the basketball floor,” he said.

McLaughlin, team catalyst and a two-year starter, “is a bundle of energy,” Cowan said. “She's hard to corral as far as putting a defense on her. Gives tremendous effort all the time ... sets a great tempo for the rest of the kids.”

McLaughlin said, “I'm looking to shoot more this year, and go up-tempo, speed it up a little bit more so we can get those fast-break points instead of having to slow down the game so much.”

Senior guard Mallory Uekman, returning from a season-ending knee injury in 2009-10, and junior Carolyn Hill are the wings.

As opposed to McLaughlin, “They're a little calmer,” Cowan said of his wings. “Both of them shoot the ball pretty good.”

Alexander, a wing last season, moves down low to play power forward. “Mary-Mc's as hard-nosed kid as we've got,” Cowan said. "She's going to see a lot of screens, she's going to get a lot of rebounds. She's going to guard people that are bigger than her, so she'll have to be tough.”

At center is 6-foot senior Priscilla Craig, “Who as far as I know has never played high school ball,” Cowan said. "She's a very nice athlete and she's got a chance to be a pretty good player. She can jump, she can play defense, she's a good passer and runs the floor very well.”

Olivia Taylor, a junior wing, and Cozette Gaspard, a 5-foot-8 junior post, are key upperclassmen off the bench according to Cowan.

Junior 5-foot-11 post Sara Burklin currently is out with mononucleosis.

Kiki Dwight, a junior combo guard, is a transfer now eligible. “She's a slippery little kid. Takes it to the hole pretty good,” he said.

Claire Dodson, a 6-foot-1 senior post, also looks to contribute.

Cowan labels his three top freshman as “exciting players who will make it to the varsity floor early and often:” point guard Lexus Norwood, forward/guard Tyler Carter and wing Erin Walsh.

Assistant coaches are Justin Underwood and Beverly Lovegrove.


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