By Mark Carpenter –
I have written here many times that the inspiration for this column comes from the strangest of places and for this week, it came while flipping the stations on Sunday night and seeing that the Oscars were on. Let me emphasize first that I didn’t watch the show, mainly because I have no desire to see wealthy celebrities try to be comedians and make their political statements. Really, who cares? Watching zombies die and Eugene living it up was much more interesting. And besides, I hear them talking about Manchester By the Sea, when we all know that Manchester is by the river.
Anyway, the idea struck me to do something that I have never done while on this sports beat. I’ve always been afraid of upsetting someone, and from the likes of some of the mail I have gotten this winter, I have done a good job of that already. So with keyboard at the ready and much tongue in cheek to be had, I have decided to put together my first, and probably my last, postseason Adams County High School basketball awards. Remember, don’t take it too seriously, don’t be one of those easily offended people that are overtaking this country.
Most Valuable Players: Who not start at the top? For the boys, the choice was pretty clear- Camron Gordley of Peebles. Averaging a double double for the season, 21 points and 11 rebounds is good enough for me. He does need to sharpen up that free throw shooting, but that is much improved now thanks to the melodious tunes of “Sweet Caroline.”
For the girls, it was a much tougher call, so I have to split the award between two North Adams Lady Devils-Avery Harper and Lakyn Hupp. The dynamic duo has carried the Lady Devils to the district finals, averaging 29 points between them and it always seems if one has an off night, the other picks it up. So girls, cut your award in half, if there actually was an award.
Coach of the Year: For the boys, I have to go with Peebles’ Josh Arey. For one, he looks so much like Chris Mack and secondly, his mother works five feet away from me. Well, of course, the Indians won 17 games too. For the girls, I am going with Rob Davis of North Adams, with Peebles’ Billie Jo Justice a close second. I have such admiration for the top to bottom program that Davis has put together and he bought my dinner on Saturday, sewing up his award there.
Name on the Wall Award: This one goes to a pair of Peebles Indians, Camron Gordley and Jessica Sowards, who both added their names to the wall at PHS by eclipsing the 1,000 point mark for their careers. A job well done!
The Best Beau Imitation Award: I have never seen anyone who could take over a game like Beau Justice could, but someone this year sure showed signs of being able to do the same and he will be back next year to keep trying-Peebles junior Tanner Arey. In a number of games this season, Arey just went crazy from all over the floor to keep his team in games, very reminiscent of #12 from a couple of years ago.
The AT&T Long Distance Award- There certainly are a number of fantastic three-point shooters in the county, but none better that Manchester’s Kaulen Cox when he gets hot. Hitting seven three-pointers in game is no easy feat, so Mr. Cox is my go-to-guy from behind the line.
Best Cheering Section Award: We will call it a tie between The Heat at WUHS and the Pit Crew at NAHS. The Heat has the advantage of the fantastic Pep Band of Mr. Carl Schneider, but the Pit Crew jumped a number of spots with their awesome reaction on Saturday to a certain blocked shot. Hopefully both groups are back next year even bigger and better and with new creative ideas for entertainment.
Coach Who Deserves Extra Pay Award: This was an easy one- North Adams’ Nathan Copas saw 9 of his 22 regular season games go into overtime periods, so he obviously loves the game so much that he never wants to leave the gym. Now, the fact that the Devils only won two of those games, well I won’t let that influence my decision.
Breakout Players to Watch Next Season Award: For the boys, I am going with North Adams’ Colt Shumaker, who was hands down the most improved player in the county this season and West Union’s Ryan Rothwell, who got the mid-season promotion from the JV and made the most of the opportunity. For the girls, it is North Adams’ Grace McDowell, who gave us just a glimpse of her talent in a big district game last weekend and West Union’s Mackenzie Bickett, whose two-game tourney performance showed much for Lady Dragons’ fans to look forward to next year. And another thing Lady Dragons, there are too many Mackenzies on that team- can you all get together and just spell your name the same way next year? Then I might actually get it straight.
Best Moment Award: How can you top a proposal at mid court that includes an entire basketball team? Way to go Austin and Kara-you are both definitely winners. Coming in second was Mr. Hunter Rapp at North Adams, who took advantage of his spot in the starting lineup for the Devils and within seconds of the tip, banged home a jumper-nothing but net.
Best Games Award: As in every season, there are a lot of good ones that I witnessed, but it would be hard to top the excitement of the Dec. 20 West Union-Peebles boys game that went double overtime or the McDonald’s Classic championship game between Peebles and North Adams that also went two extra periods. Edge of the seat thrillers with big play after big play. The best girls game I saw all year was just last Saturday when the North Adams girls pulled off a thrilling comeback to win a district semi-final game. Remember, I had to see the game for it to take home this prestigious award, kind of like an ESPY isn’t it?
The Wait Until Next Year Award- This was an easy choice, coaches J.R. Kirker of West Union and Vohn Hoop of Manchester. I likely don’t need to explain why either coach is anxious to get his team in the gym this summer and it is safe to say that both teams will win more games than they did this past season.
The Best Photographer Award: No, I am not giving an award to myself, mainly because I am not even close to the top. Patrice England, Timothy Daulton, Kimberly Browning, Tina Gordley, Jamie Puckett-bless you all for bailing me out with great photos whenever I asked for them. You are the dream for a sports writer “who can’t be everywhere”. You deserve an award!
Candy Man Award: Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t reserve a special award for Mr. Matt Young. There is a certain pleasure about sitting down a the table at NAHS and having the principal immediately supply you with a drink and Reese’s Cups. Just like Charlie Brown, you’re a good man Mr. Young.
OK, so there you have it, my first attempt at postseason accolades, and probably my last when the hate mail begins to pour in. Keep in mind that I wrote this column after being on the office for 12 hours so I can’t be responsible for anything said. And if I left anyone out or got an award wrong, don’t blame me, blame Warren Beatty.