By Tim Chambers
The All Carter/Johnson County basketball team is back by popular demand following a three-year absence. Fans, players and coaches were excited about resurrecting the squad in 2012, which was selected by ballot from the sportswriters employed by the Elizabethton Star.
Coaches aided the process by providing statistics for their respective players.
In addition to the player of the year and most promising underclassman award, the 2011-12 girls squad features five first-team players and six second-team representatives. Also, the staff was unanimous in selecting its coach of the year.
Brooke Rhodes of Cloudland earned player-of-the-year honors over Dorothy Dugger and Morgan Depew.
The 6-2 junior center averaged nearly 17 points plus 11 rebounds and four block shots per game. She was a key cog in the Lady Highlanders’ run to the state tournament, where they fell in the first round to the state champion Clay County.
Brionna Reece (5-10, So.) was chosen as the most promising underclassman. She amassed 125 points over her final six games of the season, helping coach Todd Whittemore revive the Lady Longhorns’ program. She averaged 11.6 points nd nearly seven rebounds.
The first team is comprised of three juniors and two sophomores from five different high schools: Dugger, Depew, Alicia Colbaugh, Mackenzie Blankenship and Courtney Wilson.
Dugger, a junior, led Hampton to a 20-win season by averaging 17.5 points and close to five steals. Her comeback from an ACL tear from the previous season was remarkable. Dugger has already caught the attention of some college coaches.
Depew is another junior point guard who no doubt will get the opportunity to play at the next level. She totaled 14.4 points and nearly five assists per game. Her Cyclones hit the 20-win total, and she had a career-high 39 points in a win over Unicoi County.
Colbaugh proved to be a special player for the Lady Rangers after sitting out the previous season due to the transfer rule. The lighting quick junior guard was right at 13 points per game in addition to averaging four assists, four steals and five rebounds. She too has the savvy and athleticism to play in the small college ranks.
Rounding out the unit is Cloudland’s Courtney Wilson and Happy Valley’s Mackenzie Blankenship, both sophomores.
Wilson (5-10) complemented Rhodes very well on the inside, averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. She could be the most athletic player on this year’s squad.
Blankenship provided the Warriors with 13.5 points per game and led the team in 3-point and free throw shooting.
The second unit features Courtney Clarke, Brooke Brown, Danielle Guinn and Kassie Winters in addition to Reazyn DeMoss and Carrier Gouge, who tied for the final spot. The writers decided that both were worthy and chose to expand the second team to six players.
Standing only 5-2, Clarke barely missed first-team honors. The sophomore guard averaged 10 points, four assists and three steals and earned MVP honors of the District 1-A tournament.
Brown, another sophomore, is another reason why that Lady Longhorn fans have reason to be optimistic. The crafty guard totaled 12 points and almost five assists per game.
Guinn, a junior, was a force on the inside for Hampton despite her 5-4 frame. Her 10 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest were nifty numbers to say the least.
Also a junior, Winters averaged 12.2 points and five rebounds for the Lady Rangers. Gouge provided Happy Valley with a double-double of 10.3 points and 10 rebounds per game.
DeMoss rounds out the second team. Her 10 points and five rebounds per contest were a vital element in ’Betsy’s success. She’s back next year for her senior season.
Matt Birchfield was tabbed as coach of the year after leading his team to a 32-5 mark, which tied the school’s record for the most wins.
The honorable mention list includes Lauren McCurry, Elizabethton; Whitney Roberts, Elizabethton; Sydney Miller, Cloudland; Summer Hughes, Cloudland; Brandi Ensor, Unaka; Autumn Bradshaw, Unaka; Sarah Swift, Johnson County; Shalee Perry, Happy Valley; and Paige Dugger, Hampton.
The Lady Bulldogs’ Alexis Bowers was in the running for most promising underclassman.