Mother-daughter team share the court

Social Circle High School basketball player Shekiya Tarpkins has developed into one of the top competitors in the Northeast Georgia area, averaging more than 20 points a game.

In addition, the junior grabs an average of seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals per game.

Tarpkins's ability to dominate Lady Redskins basketball is no accident. She has been in around the sport most of her life.

Tarpkins plays for her mother, Crystal Wood, at SCHS and the daughter and mother not only share the common link of basketball, but so many other things as well.

"We do have a strong relationship," said Wood. "We try to separate basketball from the rest of our lives, but sometimes it's hard to do. Many times when we are going home from a game I will start to mention something to Shekiya, but often she will tell me she doesn't really want to talk about basketball."

Wood said her daughter began playing the sport at a very young age. Tarpkins had a successful middle school career and has carried that over to the high school court.

The Lady Redskin puts many hours into improving her skills and her mom/coach can see that work paying dividends.

"Mentally, she still has some growing up to do and she can also get better physically," Wood said. "She is just now realizing you have to do more than just go to practice. She does have the initiative to improve her skills, however."

Tarpkins has been a force at Class A SCHS since she returned to the school prior to her sophomore season. (Tarpkins played for her mother at Putnam County High School as a freshman.)

While Tarpkins enjoys playing basketball for her mom, the junior admits it can be somewhat difficult.

"It's tough for me to call her 'coach'," Tarpkins said. "She treats me the same way as she treats everyone else though. Sometimes I think she is a little harder on me."

Wood admits she doesn't allow her daughter to receive any type of special treatment just because they are family.

"I will chew her up and spit her out just like anyone else," Wood said. "But I try to have a good relationship with all my players, and Shekiya is certainly no different." Tarpkins has come into her own this season. She scored 35 points top to help the Lady Redskins defeat long-time nemesis Jefferson on the road earlier this month. Her point total was just one shy of tying her career high, set last season against Monticello.

The Class A standout was also recently honored by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club for the month of December.

Division I-A colleges are courting Tarpkins. Her mom/coach is helping her keep a level head during the process.

"I try to be as honest with her as a I can," Wood said. "I tell her not to get too excited just because a Division I school sends her a letter. I remind her that Division I schools send letters to a lot of players. The positive thing about it, though, is she has buckled down and knows she has to continue working. It has been good self-motivation for her."

Sometimes, Wood wishes she could just be a mom and sit in the stands and watch her daughter play. During games, Wood becomes so focused on coaching that the fact her daughter is one of her players is temporarily forgotten.

"Sometimes I will watch video of our games twice," Wood said. "The first time I watch it as a coach. The next time I watch it as a mom."

Despite the attention Tarpkins has received, Wood said her daughter handles it well. "Many times when you have a player in the spotlight like Shekiya, they become selfish," Wood said.

"I can honestly say there is not a selfish bone in her body. She always thinks of her teammates. Many times she will pass up scoring opportunities to let her teammates score."

Wood and Tarpkins will look to guide SCHS back into the Class A state tournament this season after advancing to the Elite Eight a year ago.

"I enjoy coaching Shekiya," Wood said. "Basketball is just one of the things we share."

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