Byng's Cooper named area's top freshman

Alona Cooper of Byng (3) was named the 2021 Ada News All-Area Freshman of the Year.

Alona Cooper made the most of her starting gig for the Byng Lady Pirates.

She averaged 9.1 points per game, was a 3-point shooting threat and showed several times she wasn’t afraid to take the big shot for the Lady Pirates.

The strong start to her varsity career led Cooper to snag the 2021 Ada News All-Area Freshman of the Year award.

“I was extremely proud of Alona. It’s hard to come in as a freshman, especially with the group we’re playing with. We play a lot of juniors and seniors,” said Byng head coach Trent Miller. “Sometimes, unfortunately, when you feel like a freshman deserves a spot they almost have to over prove themselves to keep others from second-guessing.”

Cooper let her talent to all the talking she needed. She also had 41 assists, 44 steals and shot 73.1 (19-of-26) from the free-throw line.

“I think Alona’s success is twofold. She allowed herself to follow the leadership of those upperclassmen and went in there and played hard and got after it,” Miller said.

“Also there was the fact that her teammates — those older kids she was taking minutes from — didn’t make her feel like she wasn’t worthy. And sometimes that happens. But they didn’t. They cheered her success.”

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Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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