Three Cooper High School basketball players scored – literally – entry into the school’s history books during the 2022-23 season.

Jaelyn Rivera of the boys’ basketball team, and two Lady Cougars – Kyla Speights and Karrigan Parrott – all topped the rarified 1,000-point mark for their careers.

Rivera has been part of some outstanding Cooper teams with two district championship teams and three playoff berths during his four years as a Cougar. While helping lead the Cougars back to the Class 5A state playoffs this season, he also checked off a personal goal when he topped 1,000 career points against Abilene Wylie on Jan. 24.

A member of the National Honor Society and a first team all-district performer as a junior, Rivera led the Cougars to an 18-13 overall record and 8-4 mark in District 4-5A in 2022-23, good enough for second in the league. The Coogs were supposed to be in a rebuilding year and weren’t picked to reach the playoffs, but Rivera led the charge, averaging nearly 16 points per game to send Cooper to the playoffs for a third straight season. He didn’t make it four trips to the playoffs in his four years because his freshman season of 2019-20 was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“To get 1,000 points meant a lot,” said Rivera, who is still undecided about where he will continue his basketball career at the collegiate level. “I’ve dedicated a lot to this program over the last four years, and I’m proud of that. But it also shows how much trust and faith my coaches and teammates had in me to get me the ball.”

Rivera is the latest Cougar basketball player to join the 1,000-point club, following Noah Garcia, who did it in 2021.

“We’ve had Jaelyn for four years, and he’s been big for us, especially the last three years,” said Cooper head coach Bryan Conover. “He didn’t play much as a freshman but kept working hard and blossomed into a big-time player. He’s had more responsibility each year and improved every aspect of his game.”

Speights and Parrott, both seniors, topped 1,000 points scored as they led a resurgent Cooper girls’ program. After winning just 23 games combined in the previous two seasons (and posting district records of 2-8 and 0-10), the Lady Cougars finished 20-14 overall and 4-8 in District 4-5A play, one game out of fourth place and a spot in the Class 5A playoffs.

Cooper was one of five teams in the district to win 20 games during the season. The Lady Cougars beat district rival Wylie twice, split with Abilene High, beat Odessa High in first-year head coach Brandon Hudson’s first game, and knocked off Class 3A powerhouse Jim Ned, which lost just twice during the season: once to Cooper and a Feb. 25 loss to Holliday in the Region I-3A championship game.

Parrott scored close to 600 points in her first two years at Hawley High School and topped 1,000 career points in Cooper’s 49-41 win over Wylie on Jan. 24 at Cougar Gym. Speights topped the mark in a Dec. 9 loss to Jayton in the Heart of Texas Tournament.

But even with 1,000 points in the bag, Speights isn’t ready to call it quits. She’s already signed to play collegiately at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth and work toward a degree in marketing.

“Honestly, this just feels like the beginning,” said Speights, who averaged 15.1 points per game. “I know I need to continue to work hard and be humble, but I think there’s much more to come.”

Parrott, who has played softball, volleyball, and basketball in high school, has committed to the University Texas-Dallas, where she will play basketball and major in political science with the goal of attending law school. 

“Hawley was great for me, but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to branch out and play at a Class 5A school,” said Parrott, who averaged 12.7 ppg. “I was so blessed by how the team accepted me moving in here last year. There was never any problem with me being new to the team. The 1,000 points are a reminder that everything I worked for paid off. Seeing everyone so proud of me was great; my parents were thrilled. It was fun to see everything they’ve put into me, and I’ve put into the game rewarded in that way.”

Hudson’s first year on the Cooper bench was made easier by the presence of two players who scored nearly 28 points per game.

“It was a blessing to have both of them; I know it made my job easier,” Hudson said. “Those two are experienced and have played a lot of basketball. They’re two of the hardest-working players in our program, and that’s apparent when you see what they do every night and in their careers. Anytime we needed a bucket, and I called one of their numbers, I knew it would be there.”