Player of the Year: McEachern star Cooper guides state title run
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
April 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 1771 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Te'a Cooper
<BR>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Te'a Cooper
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
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One of Te’a Cooper’s biggest strengths as a basketball player is her ability to keep her teammates calm.

That trait came in handy for McEachern as it adapted to several new players following a 2012-13 season in which the Lady Indians went 18-12, only to lose in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.

The most experienced player on the roster and a starter on McEachern’s 2012 state championship team as a freshman, Cooper patiently waited for this year’s team to mesh.

“It was a whole new team,” Cooper said. “Everybody had to get used to each other. Nobody really played with each other. It was a new coaching staff and a new team, so we all just had to come together to make sure that we were all on the same goal.

“I think, under pressure, I keep everybody calm. At first, we had problems, but we all worked it out and got on the same page. The season was great. We’re all friends. We’ve made lifetime friendships. So it was fun.”

The fun began after McEachern lost two games at a Thanksgiving tournament in Tennessee. The Lady Indians reeled off 26 wins in a row, en route to a 29-2 record, the Region 4AAAAAA title and the team’s second state championship in three years.

Cooper was a key part of McEachern’s success. She led the team with 19.6 points per game, 5.8 assists per game and 4.4 steals per contest and is the 2013-14 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

“I thought (the MDJ) had the wrong person at first, but it’s exciting to get the award,” Cooper said. “I was shocked when (McEachern) coach (Phyllis) Arthur told me.”

Splitting time between the point and shooting guard positions for the Lady Indians, it was Cooper’s job to make sure her teammates were in the right places at the right time.

“I’ve grown as a leader for the most part,” she said. “When you’re a leader, I think you have to be vocal and lead by actions at the same time, because a lot of people are looking at you when you don’t think they are. When you’re a verbal leader, you can’t talk to certain people the same way you talk to other people. And you show leadership with your actions and help people get better.

“I think I’m most proud of the fact my team told me I made them better. That was the biggest thing I was most proud of.”

Arthur is proud of Cooper for her growth as a player and a person.

“She’s very deserving of the player of the year award,” Arthur said. “She’s worked hard since I’ve known her, and that didn’t change this season. Because she played hard, our younger players played hard, too. They learned from her.

“She has all of the qualities a coach would want in a player. She’s meant a lot to our program, and she’s the kind of player that understands the value of defense as well as offense in winning games.”

Despite her impressive numbers, Cooper continues to try and improve.

“I’m still working on dribbling and passing and shooting,” said Cooper, who verbally committed to North Carolina before entering high school, before reopening the recruiting before the season. “Everybody can still work on that stuff.”

Looking back, Cooper was excited about the growth her team showed through the season.

“At times, the team was down, and we had to get back up,” she said. “And then, there were times the team was up, but we were still making bad mistakes. In order to get better, we had to capitalize on those mistakes while we were up. That was big for us.”
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