Triston Cooper’s senior basketball season was winding down in style. He was getting in a rhythm from the 3-point line and really from everywhere.
The East Hall High sharpshooter scored a career-high 28 points in an 81-60 victory against rival West Hall. Then three days later, in the regular-season region finale at Franklin County, Triston went up for a rebound, landed on someone’s foot and came down with a torn ligament.
When he went to the doctor’s office, Triston learned it was a grade 3 ligament tear in his right ankle, and he could play through it if he wanted to, but the doctor recommended against it.
Triston showed up at Atlanta Rehab every day during the next two weeks hoping to stay in good enough shape to help his team in the region and state tournaments.
“My mentality was I was just going to fight through everything,” Triston said. “I wasn’t going to miss my final few games.”
He wasn’t able to play all the time in the region or state tournaments, including missing the region championship, but his contributions paved the way to help the Vikings claim the Region 7-AAA title and reach the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Triston poured in 15 points on five 3-pointers in an 86-59 first-round win against Ringgold. He called the injury “devastating.”
“I kept fighting through it,” Triston said. “I was able to get back out there.”
Part of the reason Triston may have been successful in contributing after such a tough injury was his passion for the game.
“I cannot stand to lose in anything I do,” Triston said. “Whether it’s just out here playing a game of horse or in a regular game, I don’t like losing. So that’s where the emotions come from. I think as a player you need to have some emotion because it shows people that you care.”
Triston’s goal every season was to win the “Bombs Away” award for most 3-pointers. The senior collected the long-distance proficiency award all four of his seasons at East Hall, hitting 52 3-pointers as a senior and 133 for his career.
Triston plans to attend the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in the fall, then move to the Dahlonega campus in the spring. He hopes to play golf for the Nighthawks.
He ultimately wants to go to school to be a physical therapist. Back injuries over four years and a pair of broken thumbs have led to plenty of time in the therapy room for Triston, and one of his mentors is Brian Moore, a physical therapist at Atlanta Rehab.
“I really enjoy being around him, and I see what he does and how he’s able to help everybody,” Triston said. “I’m hands-on. I like to work with people.”