Local trio earns scholarships
It was a memorable night for Kenzie Gunter, Hope Ward and Brayden West.
The three seniors were not only selected to play in Saturday’s 1A West/Midwest All-Star Game at Andrews High School, but they were included in the six recipients of $500 scholarships that are awarded to participants of the event.
A second-half rally fell short for the Western girls, despite Ward’s back-to-back trey’s and a bucket at 2:11, all of which cut the Midwest lead to 54-48. The visitors started playing keep-away in the final two minutes, which cut the comeback bid short for the West in a 58-50 loss.
Nantahala’s Ward compiled 10 points, one rebound, four steals and one assist in the game. The daughter of Ben and Becky Ward plans to use her scholarship money to attend Montreat College and major in exercise science.
“I’m grateful that I got to be a part of the experience,” Ward said. “All the girls were great to play with and I didn’t expect to get a scholarship out of this; I just wanted to have a good time.”
Lady Wildcat Gunter contributed 10 points, five rebounds and three steals to the final outcome. The daughter of Brian and Christy Gunter of Whittier, and Mindy and Jamie Donaldson of Andrews, has her eyes set on Appalachian State and the pursuit of an athletic trainer career.
“Getting selected for the All-Star team was very exciting,” Gunter said. “It was really fun to play on the same court with the people I’ve played against my whole life. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to play in that gym and in that uniform one last time.”
Also suiting up for the West girls was Andrews’ Cheyanne Rattler, who had four points and six rebounds. The West girls were coached by Andrews’ Georgie Kerber, with Eric Duong assisting him.
Swain’s Alissa Smith scored a Western-best 12 points in the game. The Midwest was led by All-Star MVP Zoe Cloer from Mitchell, who netted 16 points in the game.
In a bizarre turn of events, the boys’ game was halted due to storms.
With 7:20 left in the game and the Midwest ahead 76-57, a tornado warning was placed on Cherokee County. The gym was evacuated and after conferring with officials and coaches alike, the showcase was deemed over.
Representing Andrews in the game was Dillan Phillips and Matt Barton. Phillips recorded 10 points and two rebounds, while Barton had nine points and three rebounds.
Nantahala’s West drained a 3-point shot and also nabbed one rebound and one steal. The son of Danny and Sandy West, he plans to attend Southwest Community College for a two-year degree in physical therapy.
Nantahala’s Josh Taylor was the head coach for the West boys.
Jehlon Johnson of Lincoln Charter led the Midwest and was named MVP for his 16-point night.