Keenan’s quest for a state championship assumed a new perspective when Daisha Eddy returned to the Raiders’ fold after sitting out a season and a half.
Eddy, who led the team in scoring as a freshman and a sophomore and helped the Raiders to the Class 2A state championship game in 2011, came back Jan. 29 when she became academically eligible, and her impact on the team was pronounced.
The sharp shooting Eddy helped Keenan wrap up the Region 3 championship, and the Raiders stormed through the Upper State bracket to earn their third title shot in the seven-year coaching stint of Reggie McLain.
Eddy poured in 27 points in a third-round win against Cheraw and added 18 in the Upper State championship triumph against Abbeville.
“We were hoping to have Daisha for the whole season, but that didn’t work out,” McLain said. “But she got it together in time to be of assistance to us, and I think the girls are even more excited about having her back than (the coaches) are.”
Eddy’s value to the team in general and to senior leader Keira Robinson in particular is critical if Keenan hopes to keep Bishop England from claiming its second straight state championship on Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.
“Daisha give us an extra scoring threat that teams have to respect,” McLain said. “With her on the floor, teams have to extend their defense to respect her outside shooting range, and that opens up the floor for Keira to either take it to the basket or pass off for a good shot. Keira can just play her normal game now without the pressure of knowing she also had to carry the scoring load like she has for the past two seasons.”
Robinson, who was named the Class 2A player of the year, is glad to have her old cohort back. Robinson and Eddy were a potent duo the past two seasons.
“Daisha started a little slow, but that was expected because she wasn’t really in game shape,” Robinson said. “She’s coming on now. It’s exciting because she gives us an added threat, and that makes it easier for everybody else on the floor.”
But while Eddy may turn out to be the secret ingredient in a championship mix, Robinson is the base of the team.
“Keira has been a great player for us for four years, and she’s been the team leader since she was a sophomore,” McLain said. “Daisha has given us a little something extra late in the season, but Keira’s the reason why we’re here again.”
The 5-foot-8 guard is averaging 21.2 points, 4.8 assists and 6.6 steals but has only one thought coming into the final game of her career.
“I was here before, and we lost in overtime,” she said. “So the only thing that matters to me is to finally know what it feels like to win a championship.”