Published 12:00 am Monday, April 22, 2013

Congratulations are in order for a number of athletes who made the All-County Basketball teams:
First, to Oshon West from North Rowan. He capped off his senior season with a phenomenal performance, leading the Cavaliers to a most-impressive 27-4 record, an undefeated year and the championship in the Yadkin Valley Conference, and almost another title as state champions. As a result of his hard work, he’s also been named YVC and District 11 player of the year, and was named to the All-State Boys and 1A Boys Basketball Teams. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Oshon on a number of occasions, and he’s always presented himself as a positive and mature young man. Although he was impressive on the football field as well, it’s obvious that he’s most at home on the court, and I wish him the very best on his collegiate career and future endeavors.
Buster Hille from Salisbury deserves special recognition. He was a thrill to watch on the floor, a definite highlight for the Hornet squad. I’ve met Buster only once, and he came across a fun-loving yet serious young man. It is my hope that he will stay focused and ejnjoy the future success that’s surely headed his way.
Demaria Robinson and Special Washington are two young ladies from North who have earned my respect. They were largely responsible for the North girls having a much-improved record compared to last season, even leading their team well beyond the first round in the playoffs. I look forward to watching them shine in the next few years to come.
Shay Steele from West and Salisbury’s Brielle Blaire were awesome, too. Of course, that’s typical for both. Shay, a senior, was classy on and off the court. And I’ve been keeping my eye on Brielle since she was named the best 8th grade girl player in the country. Each of these fine players will go far, I’m sure.
The Cavalier boys, unsurprisingly, make up nearly half of the all-county team, and rightly so. Every one of them produced wonderfully, and as a result, almost led their team to bring home another state championship trophy. TJ Bates’ leadership, Mike Conner’s speed, Malik Ford’s intimidating presence and Michael Bowman’s toughness were, when mixed together, a sight to behold on the hardwood. When you add the overall ability of Oshon West along with the skills of (only a freshman?) Jalen Sanders, and you put it all under the care, direction and expertise of Coach Andrew Mitchell, you’re going to have a team that’s both respected and feared from both near and far. (By the way, Mitchell getting county coach of the year was most fitting; however, not being named conference coach of the year not even once is beyond explanation.) And, might I mention, this was a team that excelled in the classroom as well, as evidenced by the fact that most of the players carried a 3.0 GPA or better for the majority of the year.
Lastly, let me give a shout-out to a few more players who didn’t make all-county, but are deserving of some recognition nonetheless: DeShawn Troutman of Salisbury, who usually drained outside shots like it was nothing; South Rowan’s Tevadus Wesley, who was probably the best all-around player on their team; the lady Cavs’ Taylor Sells, who could hit more three-pointers than I could keep up with; and the remainder of the Cavalier men’s squad, who almost always reminded us of what a well-rounded team is supposed to look like. When North’s second string hit the floor and played just as well, if not better than, the starters, it was obvious that Coach Mitchell, Coach Tim Bates and Coach Bill Kesler had done an excellent job of producing some serious, top-notch, high-caliber ballers. North may not have won a state title, but the team stands tall as true champions in the hearts and minds of fans and individuals throughout the area.
Without a doubt, these individuals helped make the 2012-13 school year a special time for basketball in Rowan County. I enjoyed watching them on the court, and will enjoy even more observing and hearing of their success in the next few years to come and beyond.