SPENCER — Act IV of Brielle Blaire’s prep basketball career has a change of scenery. Before she leaves Rowan County for good, Blaire’s made another transition up main street to North Rowan after three years at Salisbury.
“It’s like I’m opening a new chapter,” said Blaire from her college signing day celebration at the North media center. “It’s really different but different in a good way. I never thought I’d end up here, but I’m glad that I’m here.”
The first three acts had mountainous highs, such as winning a state championship and crossing the 1,000-point barrier as a junior. Last season had more turbulence than the first two. SHS released its coach midway through the season in an eventual 12-13 year. The Hornets, who went to nine consecutive reigonals in a row, didn’t make the playoffs.
But that’s all behind her. North presents a chance to make as much noise as the Cavaliers have in a while. The team is stuffed with talent in the backcourt and now has a versatile inside/outside threat in Blaire.
“With the team that we have, I think we can go very far,” Blaire said.
Blaire got scholarship offers as a eighth-grader at Knox Middle, one of them being from Virginia Tech, She visited Blacksburg, Va. the following summer and cultivated a relationship that lasted since.
It’ll last at least a few more years.
“I wanted to stay near my family,” Blaire said. “We’re a very close knit family so I definitely didn’t want to go too far.”
The 6-foot-3 blue chipper officially signed with VT last week. The Hokies play at historic Cassel Coliseum on a scenic campus in southwestern Virginia. Monet Tellier, one of Tech’s leading scorers, is a senior guard from East Mecklenberg. The official visit came earlier this year, but that was just a formality. Several ACC schools came after Blaire, but knew she wanted to be a Hokie for a long time. Weekend trips to Blacksburg for football games and camps weren’t uncommon. It felt like home.
“I just knew this was where I was supposed to be,” Blaire said. “I didn’t really narrow it down. I went with my gut feeling.”
VT finished 10-20 last season and was 4-14 in the conference.
Blaire, an all-county player for the last three years, is currently at 1,581 points. There’s only been three 2,000-point scorers in the modern era. Salisbury’s Shayla Fields, North’s Sophilia Hipps and North’s Stephanie Cross are the only players to reach 2000.
Make no mistake, Blaire’s transfer caused buzz throughout the county. Her sister Ashley Blaire came over as well as Nateisha Liles. All-county player Nycieko Dixon has come over from West.
“We know why we came here,” Blaire said. “As long as you know you who are, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.”
North has high aspirations with the Blaire sisters, Dixon and a solid crop of guards from last season. It’s a talent-rich bunch that’s made the Cavaliers relevant again. North hasn’t made a regional since 1997 and hasn’t won a conference crown in some time.
Blaire can’t think of a better way to reintroduce North to the 2A level than breaking both of those streaks.
“Everyone wants to win,” she says matter-of-factly.
Her freshman season, Blaire may have been on the most loaded team in county history that included college players Olivia Rankin, Ayanna Holmes, Ashia Holmes, Jessica Heilig and Doreen Richardson. Salisbury finished 27-1 and won its third-straight 2A championship. Blaire scored 21 points in a regional playoff game against Bandys and was MVP of the state championship game.
The following season the Hornets lost seven seniors and the load was thrown to Blaire, which she handled gracefully, averaging 22.3 points a game and winding up on the all-state team and was the County Player of the Year. She became more versatile, bringing the ball up the court and proving she could score from anywhere.
Now that college has been secured, Blaire wants to win another championship, but there are other goals. She wants to work on her temperament, which can match that of a fiery competitor, She wants to major in psychology in college and has taken up painting as hobby that centers her. She’s changed since she was the eighth grader at Knox that the Post’s Mike London did a feature on after catching so many eyes.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Blaire said. “Sometimes it gets mistaken for having an attitude. I really want to work on that. I get frustrated with myself a lot.”
At North, it’s a new canvas and Blaire wants to finish her masterpiece in green and gold.
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