Dugger heads annual squad

from staff reports


   Three 40-point games in a career would be something special. Unaka's Aaron Dugger accomplished that feat in one season.
   Averaging 26 points per game while leading the Rangers to their third-ever state tournament appearance, Dugger is this year's pick for boys Most Valuable Player on the All-Carter/Johnson County basketball team.
   Dugger, a senior who also won the award last year, pumped in over 800 points this season.
   Donald Ensor, taking Unaka to the state tournament for the first time since 1988, beat out some stiff competition -- Cloudland's Ned Smith, Hampton's Jerry White, Elizabethton's Tony Hardin -- for Coach-of-the-Year honors.
   Ensor's club defeated another state-tournament qualifer, Hancock County, in the Region 1-A championship game.
   On the girls' side of the ledger, Kari Stout, Hampton's sharpshooting senior, gets the nod as girls MVP, while Cloudland's Matt Birchfield and Elizabethton's Mike Wilson share the recognition for Coach of the Year.
   Stout, who demonstrated deadly 3-point marksmanship, averaged 18 points per contest and helped lift the Lady Bulldogs to the District 1-AA tournament championship.
   Birchfield, a first-year coach, propelled the Lady Highlanders to their first state-tournament appearance in school history, picking up conference, district, regional and sub-state titles along the way.
   As for Wilson, he molded the Lady Cyclones into a bona fide winner just two seasons after his team didn't win a single game. Elizabethton's remarkable turnaround resulted in a semifinal appearance in the Region 1-AA tournament.
   First-team selections for the boys include Watauga Conference scoring champ Matt Cornett (23 ppg.), Johnson County; Elizabethton center Vince Redd (14 ppg., 12 rpg.); Hampton post Ryan Deskins (15 ppg.) and Cyclone point man B.J. Miller (13 points, 5 assists, 2 steals per game). Happy Valley's Chris Campbell (17 ppg.) and Cloudland's Kyle Jones (15 ppg.) tied for the final spot in the starting five.
   A strong second unit consists of Ben Cole (14 ppg.) and Dustin Collins (11 ppg.) of Unaka, Hampton's Zack Ensor (11 ppg.), Elizabethton's Walter Brown (8 points, 3 steals per game) and Cloudland's Kevin Jones (13 ppg.).
   'Betsy sophomore Lester Bailey earns the distinction of being the Most Promising Underclassman. He averaged six points per game, but his best contributions came in ballhandling, passing and defense.
   A pair of Lady Highlanders and Lady Cyclones head up the girls' first team. Beth Holtsclaw (14 ppg.) and Rikki Baughman (11 ppg.) are joined by Cloudland's Taukia Hughes (11 ppg.) -- regular-season Watauga Valley Conference MVP -- and Tara Hanson (14 ppg.).
   The fifth spot goes to Andrea McQueen, who battled back from a serious knee injury to average 13 points a contest for Johnson County.
   Second-team honors start with Cloudland center Amy Storie, who averaged 12 points a game and excelled on the boards; and Happy Valley's Kandra Roberts, a three-time All-Carter/Johnson pick.
   Elizabethton's Lacy Lane (11 ppg.) and Hampton's Kelly Shoun (9 ppg.) also made the cut, while Unaka freshman Julie Roberson (10 ppg.) and Hampton senior Alison Pierce (9 ppg.) tied in the voting for the final selection.
   Baughman, Elizabethton's polished freshman performer, emerges as Most Promising Underclassman. She held off a challenge from Happy Valley ninth-grader, Brandi Dugger.
   Kenneth Chambers was a vote-getter for Coach of the Year after taking a young Lady Rangers' club to the sub-state round.