For Goose Creek's girls basketball program, moments like Friday morning are as important as what happens on the floor during the season.
In front of teammates, family and supporters, senior forward Shakeia Joy signed a letter of intent to further her career in college at Armstrong Atlantic State in Savannah. Joy averaged 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game this past winter for the Lady Gators, who finished 24-3 after making it to the state quarterfinals.
GCHS coach Tim Baldwin expects Joy to continue developing into a better player.
“I still feel her best basketball is ahead of her,” he said. “I spoke to her soon-to-be coach and said with the workouts and her commitment she's really going to take off. I'm very excited for her. She's worked her butt off for it. It's a good day for Goose Creek basketball.”
Next season, the Lady Gators will have six former players competing in college. The other five are Aleighsa Welch (USC), N'Dea Bryant (UNC), Jalvin Jones (Claflin), Sahara Pringle (Converse) and Ashley Fields (Jr. College).
The tradition of placing players in college inspires younger girls in the program, Baldwin said.
“We try to get every kid in the program in the gym when we do signings,” he added. “We want them to see that there is a pay day at the end of the rainbow if they put in the time and work… An education will help them later in life.”
Dantez Bennamon, a guard on the boys team, was also on hand Friday after committing to Clayton State last month.
Like Armstrong Atlantic, Clayton State is in the Peach Belt Conference.
Bennamon, a 6-foot guard, averaged 17 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Gators, and was named to the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association's Class AAAA all-state team.
“At Goose Creek, we've been blessed to have kids with talent and the grades to get to college,” Baldwin said. “That's a compliment to our teachers, support staff and administration. It's just an overall group effort. It's a good day for all of us.”