Lady Tigers' turnaround lands coach on STAR team

By Tim Chambers
Star Correspondent

   Since early November, elementary basketball has been full throttle throughout Johnson and Carter County. Along the way, the Keenburg Lady Tigers capped off a remarkable season, winning the girls small school league title.
   It was only two years ago that Keenburg went the entire season without a win. From worst to first is quite an accomplishment for the orange and black.
   We award the Tigers with Amy Harkleroad being selected as coach of the year in the small school division. Natasha Bunton and Kayleigh Elsea represent Keenburg and Unaka, respectively, as co-players of the year in the small school division.
   Along with the Bunton and Elsea, our first team consists of Brooke Bunton and Jessica Trivette (Keenburg), and Emily Bradley (Central) and Megan Holtsclaw (Little Milligan).
   Second-team honors go to Jessica Estep (Keenburg), plus Dana Williams, Sarah Jones and Natalie Johnson (Unaka). They are joined by Whitney Murray and Billie Jean Campbell (Central), as well as Megan Reed and Kelly Stout (Little Milligan).
   Unaka simply dominated the small school division behind scoring machine Jeff Peters. The left-handed Peters reminded fans of the late Hank Gathers, who led the NCAA in scoring and rebounding back in 1989.
   Peters was selected as player of the year in the small school division while Mark Revis of Unaka was selected as coach of the year.
   First-team acclaim, in addition to Peters, goes to Adam Colbaugh and Tyler Walsh (Unaka), plus Wesley Church and Jared Cline (Central). Johnny Glass and Cody Marley gather such honors for Keenburg.
   Second-team selections are Josh Moore and Matthew Rasnick (Keenburg), Caleb Johnson and Cain McWalters (Central), Matt Oaks and Dustin Tolley (Range), and Travis Taylor (Unaka) and Daniel Bailey (Little Milligan).
   T.A. Dugger continues to reload with some quality players who are making EHS head coach Mike Wilson a much happy camper. Hannah Fritz provided leadership, point production and some good defensive skills for the Jr. Cyclones. Her court savvy and ability to see the floor was part of the reason behind the Jr. Cyclones' success.
   Happy Valley stormed though league play with only one loss. Part of the reason was due to the outstanding play and leadership of inside post player Hannah Banks.
   Banks is very versatile which should provide Warriors fans much to cheer about in the days ahead. She is a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor.
   Not so far south in Johnson County is a special player by the name of Jill South. South can do it all, see the floor, and push the ball on the break and score with ease. She should be able to help the high school program next season.
   It would have been hard to choose one without the other, so our tri-players of the year are South, Banks and Fritz. Dana Hill (Happy Valley) and Angie Barker (T.A. Dugger) are co-coaches of the year.
   First-team honors, along with South, Banks and Fritz, go to Mikki Oliver (Hampton), Amber Dugger (Happy Valley), Brooke Johnson and Bethany Bare (Cloudland), and Leah Henson (T.A. Dugger).
   The second team features Kelli Culler, Mariah Pietrowski and Janey Robinson of T.A. Dugger. Brittney Westberry and Hollie Grindstaff (Hunter), Mary Beth Ingram and Jose McKinney (Hampton), Keisha Eller (Johnson County), Nicole Hardin (Happy Valley) and Rebekah Tolley (Cloudland) also make the cut.
   Cloudland and Hampton were no doubt the cream of the crop in the boys basketball large school division. Bulldogs fans are licking their chops awaiting the arrival next season of Jarred Irick.
   'Lander fans no how special Michael Lunsford is. One who plays hard every minute of every game, Lunsford is an icon in elementary sports.
   Irick and Lunsford will share co-player of the year honors while Mike Lunsford (Cloudland) and Leon Tolley (Hampton) receive co-coach of the year honors.
   Along with Lunsford and Irick, the first team features Bobby James and Dustin Jaynes (Hampton), plus Bo Carter and Aaron Bradford (T.A. Dugger), Brett Stocton (Cloudland), Tyler Leonard (Johnson County) and Hunter Taylor (Hunter).
   Second-team accolades go to Ryan Greene and Wendall Loving (T.A. Dugger), Jordan Hughes and Randal Johnson (Cloudland), Bryant Collins and Jeff Wilson (Hunter), Austin Paisley (Johnson County) and Justin Bentley and Dustin Milhorn (Hampton).
   Best wishes to each eighth-grade athlete as they embark upon their high school careers next season.