LAURINBURG — Scotland High School hosted its annual combined winter and spring sports banquet Monday night, where coaches from 13 sports honored their student-athletes with end-of-season awards.
The proceedings opened with principal Brian Edkins thanking the student-athletes, parents and coaches for their hard work and dedication during the year. In Edkins first year at the helm, Scotland High School went ejection free for the 2017-18 school year.
“It’s an awesome feeling when you go to an away game and have more fans than the home team,” said Edkins.
Recognizing 13 sports — with the addition of bowling and swimming — each coach kept their speeches short thanking their significant others, parents, assistant coaches and their players, before handing out their awards and introducing the next speaker. In total, the banquet took around an hour and a half.
Cheerleading coach Jacqueline Kirk was the first coach to take the podium and honored four of her girls after thanking them for great year. The award for all-around athlete went to junior Ali Andrews while Morgan Norton received most improved. Kristen Starling was named most dedicated and senior co-captain Rebecca Heller won the coach’s award.
Winter’s newest sports took the podium next as swimming head coach Jennifer Carter handed out her first awards.
“The first, the strong, the bold,” Carter said. “That was the mantra of this year’s team and it was a fitting one.”
In it’s inaugural season the boy’s swim team finished fourth in the Sandhills Athletic Conference and advanced to regionals in three relay events — the 200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle. The Lady Scots placed sixth in the conference and just missed advancing to regionals in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
For the boy’s, Carter presented senior Nyjel Collins-Jackson with the male MVP while girl’s captain Portia Driggers was named the female MVP.
James Manley received the most improved award and Aaron Haislip earned the coach’s award for the boys. On the girl’s side, Ashlyn Soles won most improved and Skylar Locklear earned the coach’s award.
Meg Jernigan stood towards the back of the stage, as assistant athletic director Adam Romaine took the podium for her — speaking in third person — to present the awards for Scotland High School’s first bowling team.
The Lady Scots finished third at the state competition, despite having little to no bowling experience. The Fighting Scots finished fifth in the conference and junior Hunter Edkins advanced to state as an individual and placed seventh. Edkins was also named the SAC-8 Bowler of the Year.
“I always said the only thing Hunter needed was a driver because there wasn’t anything I could teach him about bowling that he didn’t already know,” said Jernigan.
Edkins was named the boy’s MVP. The Scots other experienced bowler, Brandon Hodge, received the coach’s award. Rounding out the boy’s awards was senior TJ Smith who earned most improved after joining the team following football season.
For the Lady Scots bowlers, senior Mason Roberts earned most improved as the team’s fifth bowler she was a key component to their success since the fifth bowler gets an extra turn each match. Fellow senior Daizha McMillan received the coach’s award while senior Macie Gibson won MVP.
First year head coach Thomas Havner brought the jokes to Monday’s banquet as he honored his grapplers. The Scots wrestling team had a roller coaster season, advancing 10 wrestlers to regionals in spite of their youth and inexperience.
“Wrestling is the most unforgiving sport because all we have in terms of equipment are shoes and these hands,” Havner said.
The most improved award went to senior heavyweight Juan Sanchez, who was one point away from advancing to state. Freshman Jason Blakenship won the coach’s award after advancing to regionals in the 138-pound weight class. Junior Jeremiah McCrimmon was named MVP and Havner is confident if he can stay healthy that during his senior campaign McCrimmon will dominant the SAC-8 conference.
Second-year head coach Mallarie Snow started her speech off by telling the crowd how resilient her team was this past season. The Lady Scots basketball team finished the season 4-18 and 2-12 in SAC-8 play for seventh place. The girls earned the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament but were eliminated in the first round by Lumberton.
“Everything we went through is a learning curve,” she said.
The Lady Scots all-conference senior Amaya Pegues took home Best Defensive Player leading the team in scoring, assists, steals and defensive rebounds. Pegues was second on the team in offensive rebounds. Senior Tramaine Peterson received the most improved award while twins Mykeria and Tykeria McNair took home the final two awards.
Mykeria earned the coach’s award for being one of two players to participate in every game this season. Tykeria was named the MVP as she improved her scoring tenfold. During the 2016-17 season Tykeria scored 14 points, this year she tallied 140 points.
The Fighting Scots basketball team had a season that spoke for itself, which kept coach Matt Justin’s speech very short. The Scots finished 19-9 overall and 9-5 in SAC-8 play for second place. The Scots earned the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament but lost in championship game to Hoke.
For the first time in three seasons the Scots advanced to the NCHSAA 4A playoffs. Scotland’s season came to an end in the third round as they lost to No. 13 Butler, 65-43.
Returning to the playoffs wasn’t what Justin considered his team’s greatest feat this season.
“Our biggest accomplishment was beating both Richmond and Pinecrest three times,” he said.
Earning the defensive award for the second consecutive year was senior Justin McRae. Fellow senior Brenton Thomas once again took home most improved. Senior Quinton Covington received the coach’s award and fellow senior Niem Ratliffe was again named team MVP. Ratliffe led the Scots in scoring, steals and three-point shooting.
****Spring sports awards and photos will appear in Thursday’s edition of the paper along with the Male and Female Athlete of the Year.****
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]