Baseball Player of the Year
Jeffrey Zeigler, Berkeley
Junior pitcher/infielder Jeffrey Zeigler was the catalyst for Berkeley High School’s baseball team this spring, helping to orchestrate one of the best turnaround stories in Lowcountry high school sports for 2018-19.
The Stags moved up a classification and won the Region 7-AAAAA championship after winning just eight games the year before. They were projected to finish as low as fifth in the league but excelled in tight games all season to claim the region crown.
Zeigler led the way.
From the bump, he posted a sparkling 8-0 record with a 0.85 earned-run average. At the dish, he batted .338 with 21 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
With the region crown hanging in the balance, Zeigler rose to the challenge in the most important regular season game, a 4-0 victory at Cane Bay that locked in the first-place finish. Zeigler limited the Cobras to just one hit and struck out seven batters.
In addition to earning an all-state nod by the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association, Zeigler was named the Region 7-AAAAA Player of the Year.
Another highlight in Zeigler’s torrid spring on the diamond was winning the home run derby with 37 blasts on the eve of the 50th annual Hanahan Invitational Tournament in April.
Boys Basketball Player of the Year
Ishan White, Berkeley
At 6-7, Berkeley senior forward Ishan White was an imposing figure in the paint for the Stags. He routinely dominated games around the basket in helping to lead the Stags to a special season on the hardwood.
The Stags set a school record for victories with 26 and advanced to the Class 5A state championship game before falling to Dorman.
“Ishan was a vital part of our three-peat as region champs and our run to the state championship this season,” BHS coach Joe Wallace said. “With Ishan’s size and athleticism, along with playing fast and above the rim, he was able to bring the crowd to its feet with his thunderous dunks as well as being able to knock down jump shots.”
White averaged 15.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.1 assists as a senior and earned all-state and all-region honors. He averaged closed to a double-double as a sophomore and a junior.
After graduation, White plans to attend Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., with Stags teammate Trevur Smalls.
White earned one more prep basketball game after the state championship, helping South Carolina knock off North Carolina, 129-117, in the 22nd annual Carolinas Classic in Wilmington.
He was one of five South Carolina players in double figures, scoring 12 points with five rebounds.
North Carolina had won four of five in the series.
Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Shayla Nelson, Goose Creek
Goose Creek High School senior forward Shayla Nelson was a four-year starter for the Lady Gators and ended her prep career with two state championships and a collection of postseason awards.
She averaged team highs of 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks this season as Goose Creek finished 23-1 and won the Class 5A title for the second time in three seasons.
In the championship game, Nelson had 17 rebounds, five blocks and three steals, including the clinching block and steal in the final second.
“She does all the little things,” GCHS coach Tim Baldwin said.
Nelson concluded her prep career in the Carolinas All-Star Classic.
She was named Region 7-AAAAA Player of the Year and co-Statewide Player of the Year by the High School Sports Report
She has signed to further her playing career at North Carolina A&T after high school.
“Shayla is an athletic, strong and explosive forward,” Aggies coach Tarrell Robinson said. “She has the ability to put the ball on the floor from the high post as well as post up on the block to score. I’m excited to see her growth over the next four years.”
Competitive Cheerleader of the Year
Emily Loftis, Goose Creek
Goose Creek High School senior Emily Loftis is the cheerleader of the year.
She has signed a letter of intent to further her competition career and education at Limestone College in Gaffney.
Loftis has been a cheerleader for 14 years and began competitive cheer at the age of six. She is thought to be the first freshman at Goose Creek to make the varsity squad and is the first cheerleader to sign a scholarship.
Outside GCHS, Loftis is an all-star competitive cheerleader and has been on many squads that claimed titles in national events. Recently her squad, the ACX Kat Daddies, competed in the 2019 Cheerleading Worlds in Orlando’s Walt Disney World.
Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year
Dawson Wright, Fort Dorchester High School
Junior Dawson Wright led the Fort Dorchester Boys to a Top 10 finish at the 2018 Class AAAAA Cross Country Championships. Wright finished the boys’ race with a 16:06 time to place fifth individually and help the Patriots place seventh as a team.
Wright placed third at the 5A Lower State qualifying meet with a 16:16 time to help the Patriots place third as a team. He was also the top male runner at the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Boys Cross Country Championship Race. Wright finished with a 16:23.53 time to win an individual region championship and help the Patriots capture the boys’ team region title.
During the Darlington Carnival Invitational Oct. 6, Wright finished with a time of 16:50 to place second individually and help his team place first.
Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year
Lizzie Naval, Summerville High School
Lizzie Naval won the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Cross Country Girls Championship race with a 20:24.18 time that helped the Green Wave claim the region team championship. She also led the way for her team at the Lower State Qualifier, finishing in 19:46 to place sixth individually and help her team to a second-place finish behind James Island.
Naval finished the Class AAAAA Cross Country Championships with a 20:02 time to place 37th individually, which is the top performance for athletes in the Summerville Communications area. With her leading the way, Summerville placed 10th in the team standings.
Football Player of the Year
Jonathan Bennett, Summerville High School
Green Wave quarterback Johnathan Bennett passed for more than 2,200 yards in 2018 and was a finalist for the prestigious South Carolina Mr. Football Award. After leading Summerville on a clean sweep of its Region 8-AAAAA opponents, Bennett was named the Region Player of the Year.
The dual-threat quarterback led Summerville into the Lower State Championship game, a goal the team hadn’t reached in several seasons. After losing to Dutch Fork, the Wave ended the season with an 11-3 record.
On Dec. 19, Bennett signed to play football at Liberty University. The Flames are getting a four-time varsity letterman for the Green Wave who received his first starts at quarterback for the team as a freshman. Bennett passed for more than 5,000 yards and rushed for nearly 2,000 as a high school QB.
The QB enrolled in college early so he could take part in spring practice.
Boys Golfer of the Year
Jack Robinson, Summerville High School
Jack Robinson was a consistent golfer for Summerville High School this spring.
After helping the Green Wave sweep its region opponents, he carded a score of 78 during the Region 8-AAAAA Championship match to help Summerville capture the region title. He shot a 77 at the Class AAAAA Lower State Qualifier to help the Green Wave place fourth, which is the highest the team has placed at the qualifier in several years.
The senior also helped Summerville win the Pickens Blue Flame Invitational tournament in April.
Robinson was recently named the Region 8-AAAAA Boys Golf Player of the Year.
Girls Golfer of the Year
Cece Knecht, Fort Dorchester High School
During the 2018 Class AAAAA Girls Golf Championship, Cece Knecht had a round of 158 to finish in a tie for 11th place individually and help the Patriots to a sixth-place team finish.
At the Lower State Qualifier, Knecht had a round of 79 to help the Patriots set a new school record for best round. The team placed third with a 323 score to move ahead of Wando and all other Lowcountry teams competing in the Lower State Championship.
On Oct. 9, Knecht helped the Patriots claim the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. She led the team that day with a round of 82 to garner Region Player of the Year honors.
Boys Soccer Player of the Year
JD Benson, Fort Dorchester High School
JD Benson was at the center of some big wins for the Fort Dorchester Boys Soccer team this season.
Benson hit one of seven Patriot shots during a PK shootout March 8 to help Fort Dorchester defeat Wando, which is now the South Carolina Class AAAAA three-time defending champion. With the senior’s help, the Patriots placed second in a very competitive region.
Benson will end his high school soccer career representing Fort Dorchester in the South Carolina Soccer Coaches Association North-South All-star match.
“Usually when we nominate a guy for an all-star game there is some discussion about whether he is the very best option for a position on the team, but when we mentioned JD everyone immediately said yes put him on the list,” Fort Dorchester coach Neal Veloso said. “He has an incredible skill set for a defender. He is the coach on the field that coordinates and organizes the defense. He also has a knack for jumping into our attack and was a great leader and captain of a very young and inexperienced team.”
A three-year varsity starter for the Patriots, Benson also represented South Carolina on the Charleston Battery Development Academy team.
Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Olivia Hughes, Ashley Ridge High School
Ashley Ridge center-back Olivia Hughes helped the Swamp Fox Girls Soccer team sweep its region this spring and advance to the third round of the 5A playoffs. Ashley Ridge ended the season with a 16-6 record after being eliminated by Wando.
“We only play three in the back so she basically takes care of everyone in the back,” Ashley Ridge coach Mark Weaver said. “She does all the organization in the back and is an extremely valuable player. She is great in the air and as good left-footed as right-footed. She is just a natural defender and we have been blessed to have her the last four years. She is also an excellent student and great person.”
Hughes has a strong leg and accurate aim, which helped her earn All-state honors this season.
She plays club ball for South Carolina United and has been selected to represent South Carolina in the Clash of the Carolinas all-star game. Hughes is one of only 18 athletes in the state to receive the honor. Only five defenders were selected for the team.
Softball Player of the Year
Katie Freeman, Ashley Ridge High School
Ashley Ridge pitcher Katie Freeman led the Swamp Fox Softball team to back-to-back district championships and region championships in 2018-19.
Freeman, who has signed to pitch for the College of Charleston next school year, finished her senior season with a 25-3 record in the circle. She stuck out 256 batters while walking only 14 and had a 0.78 ERA.
She also held her own at the plate, finishing the season with a .301 batting average. She had six doubles, a triple and nine RBIs.
“Katie is an absolute gamer,” Ashley Ridge coach Larissa Shannon said. “Off the field, she is very happy-go-lucky. On the field, she is a warrior. She has a great mentality and approach to the game and brings her teammates up to another level.”
With her help, Ashley Ridge swept its region opponents this season and advanced all the way to the Lower State championship series of the playoffs.
Freeman earned five varsity letters and multiple all-region and all-state honors during her time with the AR Softball team. She is the 2019 Region Softball Player of the Year.
Boys Swimmer of the Year
Daniel Grimes, Pinewood Preparatory School
After leading the Pinewood Boys Swim team to a fifth-place finish at the SCISA AAA Championships, Daniel Grimes was named to the SCISA Boys Swimming All-State Team.
At the 2018 state meet, Grimes claimed the Boys 50 Freestyle state championship with a time of 21.93, which is less than a second behind the Pinewood school record for the event. Grimes also had a 49.06 time in the 100 Free to place second.
Grimes also helped the Panther 200 Free Relay Team and 200 Medley Relay Team to a fourth-place finish.
During the Oakbrook Invitational meet in Spartanburg Sept. 22, Grimes broke the Pinewood Swim Team 100 Backstroke record that had stood since 2002 with a first-place time of 58.51. Grimes also won the 50 Free with a time of 22.14.
This is the second consecutive year Grimes has been named Summerville Communications’ Boys Swimmer of the Year.
Girls Swimmer of the Year
Sarah Mundy, Berkeley
Berkeley senior swimmer Sarah Mundy tried on gymnastics, soccer and even taekwondo before diving into the pool headfirst at around eight or nine years old.
It was a perfect fit.
“I tried everything else on the face of the earth,” Mundy said. “At first, swimming was like well, this seems fun. It seemed like it was the last sport my mom made me try. I watched the local team practice and I fell in love with it. It just kind of snowballed from there.”
Mundy had a stellar career in the swimming pool for the Stags, winning a pair of freestyle state championships (50-yard and 100-yard) as a junior. She was top three in two freestyle events this school year and finished her prep career as the state’s fourth-ranked prospect by CollegeSwimming.com.
Mundy will begin a new, exciting chapter in the Centennial State after graduation. She signed a scholarship with Colorado State during the NCAA’s early signing period, a reward for all those early-morning training sessions in the water and effort in the classroom.
Mundy will be a sprinter for the Rams and plans to major in nutrition science with a focus on dietetics. At BHS, she’s been in the National Beta Club and National Honor Society, also earning a title of scholastic All-America by USA Swimming.
Boys Tennis Player of the Year
Thomas McGinnis, Summerville High School
With Thomas McGinnis holding down the No. 1 singles spot, Summerville swept its Region 8-AAAAA opponents this season to claim the region championship.
McGinnis helped the Green Wave earn a 6-0 win over Cane Bay in the opening round of the state playoffs. Summerville finished the season with a 14-9 record after losing to Dutch Fork in the second round.
McGinnis was named to the Region 8-AAAAA All-region Team for his efforts.
Girls Tennis Player of the Year
Abby Cotuna, Berkeley
Berkeley High School sophomore standout Abby Cotuna is the Summerville Communications Tennis Player of the Year.
She is a two-time winner and has been quite the force on the tennis court during the high school season and offseason.
She is the Stags’ No. 1 player and an all-state selection.
Last season, Cotuna compiled an impressive 21-1 record in singles play and was also 2-0 in doubles matches. She finished runner-up in the Class 4A-5A singles tournament.
As a freshman, she amassed a 27-3 record.
Abby attends Randy Pate Tennis Academy at Live to Play in Mount Pleasant for tennis training. In her limited amount free time, she enjoys fostering animals and helping others learn the game of tennis.
Volleyball Player of the Year
Amani McArthur, Ashley Ridge High School
Amani McArthur’s presence at the net and powerful serves helped Ashley Ridge capture the 2018 Region 8-AAAAA Volleyball Championship. She led the Swamp Foxes into the third round of the playoffs, which is the deepest playoff run in the program’s history. Ashley Ridge was eliminated by eventual Lower State champion Wando.
McArthur was named the Region 8-AAAAA Volleyball Player of the Year and selected for the Class AAAAA All-state Volleyball Team and to participate in the South Carolina Coaches Association for Women’s Sports 2018 North-South Volleyball All-star series.
The senior finished her high-school volleyball career with more than 570 kills, 360 blocks, 45 service aces and 220 receptions.
Wrestler of the Year
Jordan Aluyan, Fort Dorchester High School
Fort Dorchester’s Jordan Aluyan won the 132-pound weight class during the 2019 Class AAAAA Wrestling individual state championships Feb. 22-23 at the Anderson Civic Center. He claimed an 8-5 decision in the championship match for his class to claim his third South Carolina High School League individual state title.
Aluyan also helped Fort Dorchester claim a piece of the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. Fort Dorchester, Ashley Ridge and Summerville all finished with the same region record this season.
The South Carolina Wrestling Coaches Association named Aluyan the 2018-19 Senior Wrestler of the Year. Aluyan finished his senior season representing Fort Dorchester as a member of the South Carolina Select Team during the North-South All-stars Weekend.
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
Travis Lott, Stratford Football and Baseball
Stratford High School baseball coach Brandon Beckman described senior Travis Lott as a productive athlete and gifted student.
For his efforts inside and outside the lines, Lott is one of the Summerville Communications Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
“Travis Lott is one of the greatest young men I have had the pleasure to coach but more importantly know,” Beckman said. “He is driven to be the best he can be in every aspect of his life and understands that to be great you must oftentimes be willing to be different. It is rare to meet people as driven as Travis, but when you encounter them you take notice. They are special. They are once in a lifetime kids, not only gifted athletically, but intellectually.”
In the fall, Lott passed for nearly 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns and also rushed for five scores as the Knights made the Class 5A playoffs.
In the spring, Lott batted .440 with a 0.577 on-base percentage while knocking in 19 runs to earn all-region honors and a spot on the South Carolina Select all-star team.
As a junior, he led the team in hitting with a .387 batting average, .577 on-base percentage and 23 RBIs.
Lott is a Top 10 student academically at Stratford and has a future ahead at The Citadel. He has received both academic and baseball scholarships to the military school and was recently awarded the Star of the West summer scholarship.
The Star of the West, The Citadel’s most prestigious scholarship, is intended to encourage study and research abroad among full-time cadets intending to apply for highly competitive graduate schools.
“As a parent, you hope and pray each day that your children are raised with great morals and values, intrinsic motivation and compassion,” Beckman said. “Travis embodies all of these traits and it has truly been an honor being around him all these years and seeing him grow from a quiet, young seventh grader to a confident and proud young man.”
As a baseball player, Travis follows in his father’s footsteps. Ken Lott also played for the Bulldogs (1994-96), batting .299 with 25 RBIs in his final season.
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year
Joey Lawhorn, Cane Bay Softball
Most people think of the grade-point average scale as ranging from 0-4.00, with 4.00 being considered especially impressive.
That puts Cane Bay High School student-athlete Joey Lawhorn in a completely different stratosphere in her academic pursuits.
The future Clemson University student will finish high school next month with a GPA over 5.00 thanks to a slew of excellent marks in advanced placement classes. She’ll be one of the top students, out of 468, in the 2019 graduating class.
Cane Bay principal Tim McDowell called Lawhorn one of the most gifted students to walk the halls at Cane Bay, which first graduated seniors in 2011. Her list of classes reads like something only a rocket scientist could get through.
“She’s completed 10 AP classes in high school and six this year alone,” McDowell said. “She is the true definition of a student-athlete. It’s very rare to have a student take that many AP classes. She’s taken on a tough course load and she’s a phenomenal art student, too. She has won numerous awards for her artwork.”
On the softball diamond this spring, Lawhorn was instrumental in helping the Lady Cobras claim a postseason district championship on the way to a 22-8 mark.
Inside the circle, she hurled 141 innings and finished with a 2.532 earned-run average. She saved one of her best efforts for when it mattered most.
Lawhorn dug down deep to deliver a sparkling performance in the playoffs against a nationally-ranked and unbeaten White Knoll squad. She limited White Knoll to just one hit as Cane Bay pulled off a shocker in Lexington.
Cane Bay validated the win a few days later, edging White Knoll to win the district.
She is in the Beta Club, National Honor Society and is VP of the National Art Honor Society.
Male Leadership Award
Ben Diffley, Pinewood Preparatory School
Senior Ben Diffley was a team captain for three Pinewood Prep teams and a standout for two others.
This school year, Diffley was a captain for the Panther basketball, soccer and tennis teams. He was also a starter for the Pinewood football and speed and strength teams.
With Diffley in goal, the Pinewood Boys Soccer team had 12 shutouts this season. Pinewood tied for first-place in the region and earned the No. 1 seed for the playoffs based on a tiebreaker. He was named the 2019 Region Player of the Year for Boys Soccer.
The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the SCISA AAA playoffs, where they fell to defending state champion Hammond.
On the hardwood, he averaged double-digits for both scoring and rebounds. Diffley received both all-region and all-state honors for basketball.
As a receiver for the Panther football team, he received honorable mention for the 2018 SCISA Coaches Association All-state Football Team.
Female Leadership Award
Ashlyn Cribb, Hanahan Volleyball and Softball
Hanahan High School principal Thomas Gallus was not at a shortage of positive things to say about senior student-athlete Ashlyn Cribb.
Cribb makes an impact in between the lines, in the hallways and outside the school doors in the community. She is being honored with a leadership award by Summerville Communications in the second Best of Prep Sports awards.
“I’ve known Ashlyn since she was about five years old,” Gallus said. “I’ve seen her grow up. I know the family she comes from and what she’s been taught at home. She’s always smiling and happy. She’s friendly with all groups of students in the school and a good role model.”
Cribb volunteers in the special education classes at HHS and works with the adapted physical education class. She’s been a regular at the Keep Hanahan Beautiful cleanup days and volunteers for Special Olympics annually.
As an athlete, she is signed, sealed and delivered to the Charleston Southern softball program after a standout prep career. She was part of two state championship teams and helped power the Hawkettes to the Lower State championship game this spring.
Cribb switched positions – she was an all-state player as a junior — to benefit the team, moving from the outfield to catcher where she replaced Jordan Fabian, now a South Carolina Gamecocks player.
Cribb was among the most productive players as there was in the Lowcountry this season.
She batted .398 with 35 RBIs, 32 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases for the Hawkettes, who finished 24-6 despite returning just three players off the 2018 state title team.
She’s excited to be playing collegiately in the Lowcountry. Her family can easily make home games. It’s a Christian school. And it’s a Division I program.
“I’m very happy about it,” Cribb said. “I’ve wanted to go there for a long time. I had a coach when I was 12 who asked us to write down on a sheet of a paper the places we wanted to go to college and I wrote CSU. It’s a Christian school and that’s important to me.”
Cribb held firm on her commitment to the Big South program through a coaching change.
Cribb also lettered in volleyball in the fall.
Individual Performance of the Year
Preston Soriano, Stratford Wrestling
Preston Soriano popped up from the mat and couldn’t wait to get his legs in gear.
He leapt into assistant coach Nick Young’s waiting arms, then bear-hugged longtime Stratford wrestling coach Willie Nearhood before racing over to his mother, Regina, who had been shooting pictures across the mat.
Soriano knocked her to the floor in the celebration and they shared a laugh. She didn’t mind one bit. Her son was a state champ.
All those countless hours of cardio and drill work and treating the refrigerator like the enemy in order to make weight finally paid off for the Stratford wrestler. Soriano, a junior, went 3-0 in the state tournament to win the Class 5A title at 126 pounds in the Civic Center of Anderson, edging Fort Dorchester’s Joseph Brown 8-6 with a reversal in the closing seconds of the second overtime.
“It’s still kind of unreal,” said Soriano, who wrestled at 132 and 138 pounds in the regular season. “It didn’t hit me until Sunday morning when I woke up and saw the medal and bracket in my room.”
Soriano had been close to the gold before, finishing third each of the last two years at 126 pounds. And the person he stood across from in the championship bout had denied him glory at the state level before.
Brown edged Soriano with an escape in the third overtime of a middle school state championship match at 104 pounds in 2016.
Soriano was pumped up for the finale, which turned into another classic, after going 2-0 a day earlier with air-tight decisions against Byrnes’ Colton Jam Heiselman (5-4) and Summerville’s Zach Jurey (1-0).
Soriano and Brown battled to a 5-5 deadlock in regulation and failed to decide a winner in a one-minute overtime period either.
Brown took a 6-5 advantage with an escape point in the second overtime but Soriano pulled even on a technical violation and scored the decisive points with a roll through when Brown tried to get him to his back.
“We’ve only wrestled one time since that (eighth-grade) match happened, which was about a month ago,” Soriano said. “I won that 2-1 but it could have gone either way. Nobody really scored. All those points were on a stalling or technical violation. I had a small chip on my shoulder for that.”
Soriano finished the season 50-2 and became the first Stratford state champion since TJ Deveaux went back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s hard to beat guys multiple times but Preston was able to do that,” Stratford coach Willie Nearhood said. “He beat Jurey three times this season and had just beaten JB in the state duals. After you wrestle them, they come up with a better game plan.”
Team Performance of the Year
Green Wave Football team
The Green Wave took down the Lowcountry football giant Oct. 29 in a game that won’t soon be forgotten.
Summerville defeated Fort Dorchester 43-42 in double overtime to clinch the Region 8-AAAAA Championship. The victory also broke a 34-game winning streak Fort Dorchester had against Lowcountry opponents.
“This has been a long time coming,” Summerville quarterback Jonathan Bennett said. “I told Coach (Joe) Call my freshman year ‘before I leave I’m going to bring you a region championship.’ Fort was top dog and they had all that, but there is a new top dog in town now. … We’ve been getting our behinds beat by these guys since freshman year so this feels good.”
After the teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime period, Fort Dorchester opted against kicking a field goal on fourth down on the first possession of the second overtime period. The gamble paid off as Patriot quarterback De’Andrae Sabb scored on a 2-yard run to put his team up 7 points with Kobe Shelton’s ensuing extra-point kick.
Bennett answered with a 10-yard touchdown run. Then the Green Wave gambled, going for the two-point conversion and the win instead of a field goal to tie the game and force a third OT.
On the conversion play, Bennett handed off to Pedro Rios, who then sent a reverse pitch to receiver/backup QB Andre Banks. He rolled right and threw to Bennett who fell into the end zone for the game-winning score.
“Our guys, no matter what, they fight,” Call said. “Fort Dorchester is a phenomenal team so for our guys to stay in there and continue to come back is big.”
Fort Dorchester took a 25-0 lead early in the game on a field goal, touchdown runs by Sabb and Kalil Jenkins and an interception and 46-yard return by defensive back Jy’Heim Wilson.
Defensive back Derrick Larry then gave Summerville a boost with a big kickoff return that set up a K.J. Rollins TD run.
On Summerville’s next possession, Rollins took a handoff, rolled right and threw a 34-yard TD pass to Brody Hopkins. Wyatt Olson added the extra-point kick for a 25-14 score just before the half.
Fort Dorchester attempted a 27-yard field goal on its first possession of the third quarter, but Summerville’s Kevon Gregory blocked the kick. That was the closest either team got to scoring in the quarter.
Summerville picked things up early in the fourth. Bennett connected with Hopkins for a 23-yard TD pass and coaches decided to go for the two-point conversion. Senior Cole Collins entered the game at tight end and caught a pass from Bennett to cut Fort Dorchester’s lead to 3.
“That was the first touchdown catch of my life,” Collins said.
Summerville took its first lead of the game when Bennett hit Bryce Ravenell for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes remaining in regulation.
The lead didn’t last long as Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a Patriot touchdown.
Summerville tied the game with a 34-yard field goal and held on for overtime.
Mackenzie McKinney, Pinewood Preparatory School
Mackenzie McKinney was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma on March 9, 2018. Only two games into the soccer season, she was forced to the sidelines and missed the rest of the season.
She went through months of treatment, sometimes four or five days a week, at facilities in both Charleston and Florida. The defender lost her hair and struggled with pain, fatigue and some of the various other hardships typically brought on by cancer, but eventually battled her way back to the field.
McKinney is a varsity lettermen in three sports so she also missed most of the 2018 Lacrosse season and much of the 2018-19 basketball season due to treatment and recovery. However, as a junior she started every game of the 2019 soccer season and helped the Panthers return to the SCISA AAA Girls Soccer championship game.
“For her to only a year later end up not only playing, but starting and having the fitness, the stamina, to actually compete is incredible,” Pinewood coach Gail Osborne said. “During the winter she wasn’t able to play much for the basketball team so we weren’t sure what to expect in the spring but every game she got stronger and more confident. Throughout it all the girls were very supportive of her and her family and that brought us really close as a team.”
In addition to juggling practices and games for her three teams, McKinney makes time to volunteer for Camp Happy Days, serve on the MUSC Youth Patient Advisory Council and serve as a MUSC Sunshine Kids ambassador.
Pattie Drew, Stratford Athletic Secretary
Just think of Pattie Drew as one who spins plates on her fingers and toes and bounces a tennis ball on the top of her head while sending five pages through a fax machine to some important destination. All this as she’s tackling a question from somebody on the other end of a speaker phone.
Stratford’s High School longtime athletic secretary is the master of handling more than one task at a time. Hall of Fame football coach Ray Stackley and current Stratford athletic director John Chalus wax poetic when talking about the one who pulls everything together.
Drew is receiving a service award by Summerville Communications for her efforts and professionalism.
“She is amazing,” Chalus said. “She’s on top of it. She makes my job so much easier. She takes her job to heart and she takes it seriously. You absolutely know things are going to get done right.”
Just a few of the responsibilities Drew juggles are dealing with eligibility, arranging transportation for Stratford teams, checking report cards and helping out by collecting admission at sporting events.
“She’s going to do whatever she can to help the athletes and the coaches be successful,” Chalus said.
Oh, and she’s married with three sons.
“People may not understand how much she accomplishes behind the scenes,” Chalus said. “She’s tremendous. She’s an integral part of the athletic department.”
When Stackley was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame in 2016, he sang Drew’s praises.
“I want to give credit where it is due,” Stackley said. “These types of accomplishments are team awards. You’re only as good as the people around you. I had a lot of help.”
In a smaller room, not much more spacious than a broom closet, across from Stackley’s former office in the SHS gymnasium, sat Drew for all those years.
“People really lose sight of how valuable secretaries are, whether it’s in the athletic director’s office or the principal’s office,” Stackley said. “We had about 40 coaches and Pattie dealt with them all the time on so many different things like eligibility and transportation. She was my right-hand lady for most of those years. She stepped up to make it all happen.”
Team of the Year
Goose Creek Girls Basketball
The Goose Creek High School girls basketball team made a spectacular comeback to secure its third state championship since 2010 in a classic against Spring Valley High School in March.
The Lady Gators wiggled off the hook with a 9-0 run in the final 1:44 and made two huge defensive stops in the final second to win 52-51 inside Colonial Life Arena.
“I might need some ice on my knee when I get to the locker room,” Goose Creek coach Tim Baldwin joked after the victory. “I feel like I played a little bit. I was really getting into it. The girls never gave in. We always talk about doing everything possible to win the game.”
Senior guard Mary Davis scored the final two points on free throws with 9.5 seconds left to complete the rally.
The Lady Gators still needed a stop, or three, to secure the win, though.
Spring Valley’s Taylor Lewis just misfired from above the free-throw line and Goose Creek senior forward Shayla Nelson swatted away a shot by the basket with 0.4 seconds left. Nelson then stole the ensuing inbound pass as the final horn sounded and Goose Creek players rushed the floor.
The game was the last for seven Goose Creek seniors and they leave behind a tremendous legacy. They won two Class 5A crowns.
“This is what high school athletics is about, kids making plays when they have to,” Baldwin said. “Hearing the kids talk and get to the floor, it’s awesome. That’s why you coach high school basketball because you see kids get excited. Our kids just dug in. We talk about 32 minutes of accountability. It was crazy.”
The Lady Gators finished 23-1.
Senior guard Ciera Shivers and junior guard Aniyah Oliver led Goose Creek with 12 points apiece. Oliver made a couple key buckets in the final surge and contributed eight rebounds and four assists.
Nelson ignited the rally with a long 2-pointer from straightaway with 1:44 left. Oliver swished a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:21 left as the Lady Gators pulled within 51-48.
Oliver made it a one-point deficit on a putback with 40 seconds left and Shivers forced a five-second call on the other end with 24 seconds remaining.
“I’m like ‘Oh, my God,’ here we are,” Baldwin said. “A lot of things have to go your way but I told them you have to be in that position to get the luck. So many things had to piece together at the end.”
Oliver’s shot for the lead rolled around and out with under 15 seconds left but Goose Creek kept possession on a tied ball and Davis eventually went to the line seconds later.
As the decibel level rose, Davis swished a pair from the charity stripe.
On the other end, Nelson put the exclamation point on a stellar night defensively with her fifth block. The Class 5A all-state selection also had 17 rebounds. The clinching steal was her third.
Coach of the Year
Tim Baldwin, Goose Creek Girls Basketball
Goose Creek High School girls basketball coach Tim Baldwin has built a consistent winner on Red Bank Road in Goose Creek.
The Lady Gators added to their hardware this winter, going 23-1 on their way to capturing their third state crown since 2010.
They rallied from eight down in the final 1:44 to clip Spring Valley at the wire, 52-51. The team was led by seven seniors, who also won a state championship as sophomores.
“Every time we (make it to Columbia) it’s Spring Valley except for that one time we played Wade Hampton,” Baldwin said. “It’s a compliment to both schools. We have rich environments for basketball. It’s one of those things, where you know you’re eventually going to have to face them. We ran the gauntlet this year. I thought we had a really tough playoff schedule, which helped us.”
Baldwin eclipsed the 400-win mark in his 18th season overall and the Lady Gators have won 68 straight region games.
They outscored opponents by an average of 61-31 for the season and coasted through four playoff foes before taking down Spring Valley in a classic.
Baldwin’s team was down 51-43 and seemingly in big trouble but maintained its composure. Senior Mary Davis made the winning free throws with 9.5 seconds left and senior Shayla Nelson saved it with a block and steal in the closing seconds.
“My job is to keep them calm and keep coaching them,” Baldwin said. “Their job is to feed off each other and they did that. It wasn’t something I told them. They started dialing in.”
The game was the swan song for seven Lady Gators seniors.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Baldwin said. “It’s great because you have that leadership but when it all goes it goes in a hurry. You just have to enjoy it because it’s special… It’s great for them to get to go out this way. You can’t ever take this away from them.”
One of the first texts Baldwin received after the game was from former GCHS athletics director and football coach Chuck Reedy, who invited the team to eat at his restaurant, Comeback Shack.
“I told Tim it’s going to be the Comeback Shack feeding the Comeback Girls,” Reedy said. “That was unbelievable. Tim has established himself as the preeminent girls basketball coach in the state. I don’t think anybody can deny that.”
The Lady Gators were also honored at the city, county and state levels.
Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Angel Frank, Summerville High School
Angel Frank placed in the Top 3 for three individual events, winning two, to help the Summerville Girls Track and Field team win the 2019 Region 8-AAAAA Championship meet. She won the 400-meter Run with a 58.03 time and the 200-meter Dash with a 24.92 time. She also placed third in the 100-meter Dash with a 12.28 time.
During the Class AAAAA Track and Field Championships, Frank placed third in the 400 Dash with a 55.71 time and fifth in the 200 Dash. Earlier this school year, Frank signed to run track for the University of South Carolina.
This is the second consecutive year Frank has received Summerville Communications’ Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award.
Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year
DJ Chisolm, Berkeley
When the conversation about male athlete of the year came up, it didn’t take long for Summerville Communications sports reporters to come up with the name DJ Chisolm as the one most worthy to receive the award.
The Berkeley High School senior athletic standout also doubles up as the Summerville Communications male track athlete of the year.
Chisolm was a Shrine Bowl-caliber receiver in the fall and one of the state’s best guards on the hardwood in the winter. He capped a sparkling 2018-19 school year with a gold in the long jump in the Class 5A state track and field meet and teamed up with fellow sprinters Tre Morrison, Antwan Coats and Jeremiah Mack to win the state championship in the 4x100 relay.
“It feels great knowing I got two rings in 48 hours,” Chisolm said.
Chisolm also won a weight class at the state strength meet as a freshman.
“DJ Chisolm is the ultimate competitor with a motor that never stops,” BHS basketball coach Joe Wallace said. “It doesn’t matter who he has to play against. The other guy better watch out because DJ is going to bring it on both ends of the court. He definitely is a leader and lets his actions speak for him. If I had to pick a team, regardless of the sport, I want DJ on my team.”
Chisolm is headed to Middle Tennessee State to play football and continue his education. He caught 56 passes for 911 yards and a dozen touchdowns as a senior after setting school records for receptions, yards and touchdowns as a junior.
He ended his high school career in the Shrine Bowl and was selected the Region 7-AAAAA player of the year along with receiving an all-state nod. The Stags were one of the top football teams in the Lowcountry and advanced to the third round of the playoffs.
In the Shrine Bowl, which ended in a 10-10 tie with North Carolina, Chisolm caught two passes for 25 yards and ran once for seven yards.
Chisolm transitioned right into basketball and was a key player as the Stags set a school record for victories and made it to the state championship game before falling to Dorman.
Berkeley was 26-2 with a strong senior cast that included Summerville Communications basketball player of the year Ishan White, a forward, and also award-worthy performer forward Trevur Smalls.
In his final game against Dorman, Chisolm led Berkeley with 14 points. For the season, he averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest.
Female Athlete of the Year
Grace Powell, Pinewood Preparatory School
Pinewood senior Grace Powell scored 29 goals this season to finish her high school soccer career with 102 goals. In addition to being one of the Panthers’ leaders for goals scored the past several years, she is also one of its leaders in assists.
When injuries left the Panthers without an experienced goalkeeper this spring, Powell selflessly volunteered to play between the posts even though it could have prevented her from reaching the 100 goals benchmark. Powell had five shutouts in goal to help Pinewood reach the SCISA AAA championship match for the second year in a row. The team only suffered one loss with her in goal and that was to Porter-Gaud in the championship.
She is a four-time all-region player who was named all-state three times and the High School Sports Report 2018 Miss SCISA Soccer.
“Her being our leading goal scorer for the year and only surrendering a handful of goals during the games she was our keeper is impressive,” Pinewood coach Gail Osborne said. “Really she is my go-to player for everything. Plus she is a leader on and off the field. I know my daughter looks up to Grace big time.”
Powell was a team captain for both the soccer team and the Pinewood Girls Basketball team. On the hardwood, she averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game. She received all-region and all-state basketball honors as both a junior and senior. She was also named her team’s Best Defensive Player both years and to the South 3A All-stars team for the 2019 SCISA North-South game.
“Her work ethic is contagious and she always rises to a challenge,” Pinewood coach Tony Bulford said. “What I love about Grace the most is her character. She knows how to push others to work hard for success.”
Powell is also on Pinewood’s Headmaster’s List and a SCISA Scholar Athlete.