When asked to describe Evans McCook and Carey Woodcock, the only two seniors on his team, Stratford head coach Ed Smith thought for just a minute and was able to come up with the answer he was looking for.
“Winners” said Smith, of two players, who during their five years as varsity basketball players have helped their team win 120 games. “They have been a big part of a team that made it to a GISA championship game, and a GHSA final four. I would definitely say that these two kids are winners.”
Stratford (25-2) will rely heavily on the experience of McCook and Woodcock on Tuesday as they try and advance to the GHSA A-Private School final four when they take on Prince Avenue (25-2) at home at 7:00 p.m.
“It’s really unbelievable how fast time has gone by because it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was an eighth grader sitting on the bench most of the time,” said McCook, a deadeye 3-point shooter who had 15 points in the round of 16 game against Landmark Christian. “As a senior it’s important to let the rest of the team know that they can’t take this opportunity for granted because you don’t get the chance to make a final four every year. Our goal every year is to win our region and make it to the final four, and we have a chance to do that. I try not to think about this being my last game at home, and possibly my last basketball game, but I would not trade my 14 or so years at Stratford for anything. It has been a great experience for me.”
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Woodcock is a versatile post player who can score, but guards Nadia Reese and Mary Elaine Mitchell, both sophomores have led the way on offense for Stratford this year averaging 15 points apiece. “At this point in my career, scoring is not important because we have other girls who can score,” said Woodcock who along with Drake Miscall guards the other teams post players. “I can focus on rebounding and playing good defense, and I still have confidence in myself as a scorer. I just do whatever my team needs to win the game.”
Smith had plenty of great things to say about his seniors.
“First of all they do whatever it takes to win a basketball game for us,” he said. “We needed them to score a little more early in their careers, and now they are fine sharing it with Nadia and Mary Elaine. Evans has as good a stroke from the 3-line as anyone and Carey has picked up her scoring since the region tournament has started and is a solid defender and rebounder. We will need their best if we are going to get a win against a very good Prince Avenue team.”