High School Highlights

Sandhills All-Conference baseball

24AlexReynaHere is the Sandhills Athletic Conference baseball team as chosen by the league’s head coaches.

Player of the year: Bryce Calcutt, Pinecrest

Pitcher of the year: Hunter Parris, Richmond Senior

Coach of the year: Jeff Hewitt, Pinecrest

First team:

• Pinecrest — Elliot Embler, Nick Phantom, Jacob Zimmerman, Davis Wilson, Pres Ostert

• Jack Britt — Chase Jernigan, Alex Reyna, Kevin Sentell

• Purnell Swett — Zachary Carter, Jalyn McIntyre, Jeremiah Locklear

• Lumberton — Parks Ledwell

• Richmond Senior — Cameron Carraway, Jake Ransom, Tyler Bass, Brett Young, Garet Weigman

• Scotland — Stewart Evans, Matt Sellers, Michael Johnson, Nic Callahan

• Hoke County — Liam Miller

Photo: Alex Reyna

• Seventy-First — Jamiese Alston

Gary Weller Foundation boosts student scholarship awards

22AllyssaRancourAfter being in operation for less than two years, the Gary Weller Foundation has enjoyed rapid growth that allowed it to triple the amount of money it awarded in its annual scholarships. After presenting two $500 scholarships a year ago, the foundation awarded a pair of $1,500 scholarships to students at Pine Forest High School this year.

The winners were Allyssa Rancour of the girls soccer team and Tanner Hendricks of the boys soccer team. The award is presented to student-athletes at Pine Forest who had to overcome adversity, befitting of a scholarship presented in honor of Weller, the former Pine Forest football coach. Weller sustained multiple serious injuries some years ago when he was run over by a driver in a stolen vehicle.

Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe is a Pine Forest graduate and one of the organizers of the Gary Weller Foundation. He said the foundation was able to dramatically increase the amount of the scholarship awarded this year because of a highly successful Trojan Challenge obstacle course competition that was held last fall. “We’re hoping to increase it next year, hopefully with a second annual Trojan Challenge,’’ Keefe said.

23TannerHendrickKeefe said much of the credit for the success of the foundation has to go to Weller, his story and the positive attitude that has carried him through adversity. “Gary has made a lot of friends in this community and has always been an advocate for young people,’’ Keefe said. “He continued on after his coaching days, supporting the community and the young. It’s more Gary than me or anybody else on the committee.’’

In addition to another Trojan Challenge, Keefe said the committee is looking at other ways to raise money for future scholarships.

They’ve floated an idea of holding a coaching clinic for local high school, middle school and recreation league coaches, possibly using veteran coaches from the area as clinicians or speakers.

“We’d have a symposium and questions and answers,’’ Keefe said. “If we did that, we might be doing it during the summer, another way to keep the Gary Weller Foundation in the public eye as we go throughout the year.’’

There are several ways to contact the Weller Foundation about making a contribution or learning more about the organization. Email info@trojanchallenge.org, visit the website at www.trojanchallenge.org, or visit the Facebook page, The Gary Weller Foundation.

Photo: Allysa Rancour and Tanner Hendricks

E.E. Smith honors Hardy by naming basketball court after her

20DeeHardyE.E. Smith High School’s Dee Major Hardy has received a number of significant honors in her long coaching career, but few will top the one she got at the school’s recent spring reunion. During the weekend ceremonies, the school announced that the basketball court in E.E. Smith’s D.S. Kelly Gymnasium had been named in Hardy’s honor, as the Dee Major Hardy Court.

Hardy was a high school basketball star at Smith before enrolling at what was then Pembroke State and is now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. During her years there, she was second team National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All- American in basketball in 1985 and two-time All-District player in volleyball in 1982 and 1983.

She finished her college basketball career with 1,555 points.

She joined the faculty at E.E. Smith after graduating Pembroke and has coached volleyball and basketball at the school. She’s led her teams to multiple conference titles in both volleyball and basketball.

In 2011, she was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame.

She was the District 4 basketball Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She won the 2011 North Carolina High School Athletic Association Doris Howard Female Coach of the Year Award and was a 2016 winner of the NCHSAA Homer Thompson Memorial Eight Who Make A Difference Award from Region 4.

Hardy joins Cape Fear’s Howard and Douglas Byrd’s Robin Long as the only Cumberland County female coaches to have a gym, court or field named for them. The softball field at Cape Fear High School bears Howard’s name while the softball field at Byrd is named for Long.

This past season was one of Hardy’s most successful as basketball coach at E.E. Smith. Her team compiled a 30-2 record, winning the Patriot Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles along with the Gene Arrington bracket of the annual Holiday Classic basketball tournament.

The Smith girls advanced to the NCHSAA 3-A Eastern Regional title game before falling 62-59 to Eastern Guilford.

Photo: Dee Major Hardy

Legacy and Generosity

21ColeHumphreyThe Cole Humphrey Memorial Foundation recently made its annual donation to the football and baseball programs at the Cape Fear spring athletic banquet. The foundation is named for former Cape Fear multi-sport athlete Cole Humphrey, who died in an automobile accident. Accepting for the football team is assistant coach Chris Hall, far left, and for the baseball team head coach Wendell Smith, far right. Also present, from left, are Larry Ellis, Jana Humphrey, McRae Humphrey, Cape Fear athletic director Matt McLean and Ann Ellis.

This year’s donation is $2,000, which brings the total donated since 2014 to $12,000.

Scholar Athletes of the Week

22Darius McLeodDarius McLeod

Westover • Basketball/golf • Senior

McLeod has a grade point average of 3.8. He was a second team choice in the 2018 Holiday Classic basketball tournament. He played golf three years for Westover. He is a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and the Academy of Health Sciences.

23alainawalkerAlaina Walker

Westover • Volleyball/softball • Senior

Walker is ranked third in her class, with a 4.18 grade point average. She has been a member of Health Occupations Students of America for four years. She is a member of National Honor Society and the Academy of Scholars. She helped the Westover softball team to its first state playoff appearance in school history, batting .400 and driving in 15 runs.

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