By Tim Chambers
The All Carter/Johnson County boys basketball team is back after being extinct for three seasons. It’s an honor that local athletes work hard to achieve throughout the season.
The year’s squad was selected by ballots given to sportswriters employed by the Elizabethton Star.
Statistics for players were provided by each coach in addition to seeing each player participate.
Ten players were selected to fill the first- and second-team units in addition to the picks for player of the year and most promising underclassman. Players received 10 points for a first-team vote and five points for a second-team vote.
Cloudland’s Taylor Whitehead edged out Elizabethton’s Justin Wandell for player of year honors.
Whitehead, a 6-0 junior, was a stat-sheet filler for the Highlanders. He averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists from his point guard position while leading Cloudland to the state tournament. He also provided this team with several game-winning shots, including back-to-back ones that defeated Unaka and Hampton in the regional tournament at the buzzer.
Logan Carrier of Unaka was tabbed the most promising underclassman. The sophomore guard averaged 16 points per contest and was a one of the top three-point shooters in the area.
The first team consist of two seniors, two juniors and one sophomore.
Wandell had a stellar campaign for the Cyclones, helping them achieve a 20-win season. The senior point guard averaged 14 points and nearly four assists per game while shooting 81 percent from the foul line.
Donivan Grindstaff of Happy Valley is the other senior on the squad. The “Big Grizzly” totaled 13 points and six rebounds per game and shot 48 percent from the field. He also led the team in assists and charges taken.
Dylan McClellan of Cloudland and Unaka’s Billy Bales represent the juniors on the first team.
McClellan led the conference in scoring with a 17.4 average while Bales was a close second at 17 points per game, in addition to averaging seven rebounds.
McClain, only a sophomore, has already raised many eyebrows of opposing coaches. His 30 points in the sub-state game is only a thimbleful of what’s to come. He averaged 15 points, four assists and three steals for the Bulldogs.
Zac Potter, who just missed making the first team, heads up the second unit. The 6-0 junior guard averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per contest in addition to four steals.
Elizabethton’s Aaron Miller recorded 12 points per game average and six rebounds. The junior center shot 77 percent from the foul line.
Hampton’s Wesley Murray was another junior selected. He provided the ’Dogs with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists per game, helping them achieve a 20-win season in what many thought would be a rebuilding year.
Rounding out the squad is Johnson County’s Dusty Stout and Brian Dempsey.
Stout’s 10 points, four assists and three steals are just a small dent at to what he meant to the ’Horns. He proved his worth by hitting clutch shot after shot against Elizabethton down the stretch, which earned them a one-point upset victory in the first round of the district.
Dempsey led the Longhorns in scoring with a 14.2 average and gathered 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Cloudland’s Brandon Carpenter was chosen as coach of the year over runner-ups Ned Smith and Len Dugger. “Carp” has taken the Highlanders to the state tournament in each of his two seasons as head coach.
The eight player honorable mention list includes Cloudland’s Jonathan Hill and Jeffrey Rhinehart, Elizabethton’s Alex Baughman and Will Robinson, Hampton’s Tyler Trusler and Johnny Fields, and Austin Clawson and Danny Bales of Unaka.