Ashley Stocton: Role model, role player

By Tim Chambers

   With their focus on today's much-anticipated Cloudland and Unaka boys and girls championships in the District 1-A tournament, some Highlander fans might have forgotten the name of Ashley Stocton.
   Stocton's name rarely shows up as the leading scorer in the paper, nor does she grab rebounds at record-pacing numbers or toss out assists in bulk loads.
   Yet she is one of the main cogs for the King College Lady Tornado, who advanced to the AAC's semifinal round against Bryan College today at 4 p.m. with a 77-66 conquest of Alice Lloyd Thursday evening at the Virginia High Bearcat Gymnasium.
   Stocton does so many things to help her team that sometimes they fail to show up in the boxscore. One example came in the second half when an Alice Lloyd player appeared to have a breakaway layup, but the hustling Stocton raced back and forced the girl to take an off-balanced shot after turning her two times down the floor.
   The result was a four-point swing after King scored an easy basket on its ensuing possession.
   "My job tonight was to guard number 15," Stocton said of Delores Jenkins, who happened to be one of the best players in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
   Jenkins was held to 13 points, nine which came while Stocton was on the bench.
   "There are so many areas of the game you got to work on," added Stocton. "I have learned to appreciate post players while I have been here."
   Another example came when Alice Lloyd was within six and appeared to have position on a rebound, but Stocton sprinted to the box and managed to wrestle the ball away from an Eagle.
   The result would be a pass to a wide-open teammate for a layup.
   Ashley served as the outlet when the Eagles tried to press and King was able to advance the ball up with little difficulty, and most of all without turnovers.
   Stocton logged nearly 20 minutes in the game, scoring six points and collecting five rebounds, but most of all supplying leadership off the bench as the sixth man, something that never shows up in the box score.
   King's lead kept increasing when Stocton was in the game.
   "In high school I was a scorer," said Stocton. "Now my role is totally different. I try to do the little things that will help my team win games. I concentrate on rebounding, defense and assists."
   At Cloudland, Stocton scored over 1,000 points in her career, which is a feat within itself. A trip to the state tournament fell just short after a heart-breaking loss to Oneida.
   To any player wanting to play at the next level, Ashley advises to stay in the gym and work hard because she feels that is the reason that she is where she is today.
   "Don't worry about how small your school is," she said. "People like myself, Bobbie Blevins (Unaka), Amber Farmer, Ginny White, Kari Stout (Hampton), Tara Hanson (Cloudland) -- all of us that play in this conference have worked hard to get where we are."
   Stocton spoke of the discipline it takes to split time between basketball and studies.
   "It's hard," she said. "I have just now figured it out and this is my junior year. Your future depends on your education, so do the best you can."
   Ashley plans to pursue her master degree in sociology upon completion of her degree at King College. She hopes to become a guidance counselor and possibly go into coaching.
   "After my game I plan on being at the Unaka and Cloudland game at Milligan College to watch (her brother) Aaron play (for Cloudland)" she said. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."