The Ashe County High School basketball teams concluded their 2008-09 regular season last Friday with a home set of games against Wilkes Central. The set of games brought more than single game victories to the Huskies, as all four teams, from the JV girls to the varsity boys, brought home MVAC Titles in their division. The night also marked the Huskies recognition of their seniors, which this season is 11 individuals.
Of the 11 seniors six of them have at least three years experience at the varsity level, and two of those six played all four years on varsity, Kim McNeil, the Lady Huskies only 1,000 Career Point Scorer, and Shelly Barker. The other senior for the Lady Huskies is Kendra Yearick, who has been a member on the varsity team for three years.
For the men’s team, three of their eight seniors have three years varsity experience, Tommy Spagnolo, a Radford signee, and only 1,000 Career Point Scorer on the team, Daniel Waln, and Tatum Lemly.
Spagnolo, Waln, and Lemly have been vital components of the Huskies’ success over the past three seasons, as they led them to a record tying season last year, as the 2007-08 team advanced the deepest in the NCHSAA Playoffs, claiming Ashe County High School’s first road win in the NCHSAA Playoffs, and finished as the MVAC Tournament Runner-Up.
Other seniors in the men’s program include: Tavin Holman, Brandon Lucas, Tucker Clay, Dustin Hamm, and Jordan Nichols. Each of these players has been a member of the program for four years, and members of the varsity squad for two years.
Each player has been a key component of the Huskies program and success, both offensively and defensively. In each one’s career, each and every senior has scored in double digits in at least one game, showing an overall athletic and talented senior class, and a well developed and rounded Husky team.
The Huskies have seen numerous records set, which include best finish of the Regular Season this season as MVAC Champions, Most Post Season Victories as they won three post season games last year, first road NCHSAA Playoff victory at Forest Hills last season, honored with an invitation to the Frank Spencer Classic, and a long running spot in the top 10 rankings in the state.
Dating back to the 2007-08 the Huskies have built a 21-2 home record, with an overall record of 43-8. Spagnolo, Waln, and Lemly have tallied a 58-18 overall record over three years.
For the Lady Huskies, the three seniors have seen a plethora of records reset during their career with the Huskies.
This season alone, the three seniors have led the Lady Huskies to new records with the longest winning streak, season record, MVAC record, most points scored in a game, just to name a few.
Also in the Lady Huskies history books is a trip to the Sectional Finals in the 2006-07 season, as they won a combined three post season games that season, and then they followed it up with a trip to the Sectional Semifinals in the 2007-08 season, which also featured a combined three post season victories.
After covering three seasons of the Lady Huskies, and watching the previous one, I have noticed certain things that always stay the same for the Lady Huskies. Some may call these traditions, or some may call them superstition, but one thing is for sure, they must be done according to the girls!
Prior to the Wilkes Central game, in a staff meeting here at the Post, the Editor and I sat down and discussed possible ideas of trying to get a different perspective for the senior’s article, or try to twist things up a bit. As I thought of different ways to do this, a thought popped in my head, every athletic superstar has a superstition and at least one game that they will never forget. So my Editor and me came to an agreement that I would dive into this a little deeper for the Lady Huskies seniors, seeing as this is the first team in many years that every senior has at least three years varsity experience.
So after talking to the three seniors, one thing became clear, these young ladies were just like every other athlete that ever reached fame: they had a system, and never varied from it!
All three seniors replayed stories from different years of high school basketball, ranging from games where their team won a championship, even to games that they lost, and the reasons they felt they lost that game. These stories came from two simple questions, what was their most memorable experience, and what is their pre-game tradition that never changes.
Kendra Yearick answered these two questions first. Yearick spent three seasons on the Huskies’ varsity roster, and has developed into a sharp shooter, and a tough defender in the post for Ashe. Yearick answered the most memorable question with ease as she recalled her sophomore season, when the Huskies advanced to the Sectional Finals at Salisbury. She elaborated on the success of the season, stating that no other Ashe County team had advanced this far into the tournament before, and it simply set the tone for their next two seasons. She then paused for a few moments before diving into her pre-game tradition, then simply answered by saying “I always wear the same necklace before each and every game.”
Shelly Barker provided her experiences next. Barker has been an overall aggressive all around player for the Huskies all four years of her career. Barker filled a spot on the Huskies’ roster her freshmen year, and immediately made her presence known. Barker is continually diving on the floor for loose balls, and just all around hustling. Barker told of her most memorable experience as the championships the team has won. The first of which, she described by simply saying High Point Central, as the name is all that has to be said to relive the game where the Lady Huskies avenged a 20-point deficit to win with a final score of 65-60, giving High Point Central their second loss of the season, both of which came from Ashe.
The second championship Barker recalled upon was the present one, in which the Lady Huskies won the 2008-09 MVAC Season Championship with an 11-1 record.
As for Barker’s tradition, she said her food was the aspect that never changed. Barker elaborated that before every game, during the team meal at SubWay, that her meal consist of the same sub, which she eats in the same seat, which has not altered since her freshmen year playing for the Huskies.
Kim McNeil was the final senior for the Lady Huskies to take the stroll down memory lane. McNeil was another four-year member of the varsity Lady Huskies, and also immediately made her presence known. McNeil, who is the only female 1,000 point scorer from Ashe County High School, has set numerous personal records ranging from scoring categories, to defensive records.
McNeil first answered the question of most memorable experience, which she proudly answered with, “finding out we were conference champions.” When asked why, she explained that the teams had worked for it for four years and it coming during her senior year just made it all the more special.
When asked of pre-game traditions, McNeil, as did Yearick and Barker, elaborated on various topics ranging from socks, to conversation topics, but McNeil calmly answered with: “having a nice talk with my mother.” Curiously the question arose, why is that, and McNeil simply said, ‘she is my motivator.’
Throughout these stories and insights, one thing was shown, their memories are only as unique as their careers as a Lady Husky, careers that will live as legacy way past their time, as the most successful Lady Huskies’ team in Ashe County High School history, which they hope to add a few more footnotes to as post-season play gets ready to kickoff.