Lady Rockets Have a Blast in Local Hoops Encore - TribPapers

Lady Rockets Have a Blast in Local Hoops Encore

MAC league MVP Julie Janus hangs onto the ball as she drives against ACR teammate Anna Wilcox (20) and Pisgah’s Dot Mills (12), in the all-star game on Saturday. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Swannanoa – This was the second annual doubleheader of girls and boys contests put on by Rankings Report, and held at Warren Wilson College.

They succeed the long-running Blue-White games that also had senior stars from across the mountains — mostly those not yet firmly committed to a college basketball program. An organizer of the games told the Tribune that scouts from more than 20 colleges either attended the games in person, or else watched the action online. The Warren Wilson gym was packed with fans.

Anna Wilcox, at left, passes for the victorious red squad. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Anna Wilcox, at left, passes for the victorious red squad. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Players from Buncombe County teams included the Lady Rocket senior duo of Julie Janus and Anna Wilcox. Wilcox is five-foot-eight. Janus is 5-6. Both are superb all-around players.

Janus is first team all-district for Western North Carolina. She was honored as the female player of the year in the Mountain Athletic Conference, which Reynolds was unbeaten in. The Lady Rockets finished 27-2, for what is hailed as the most wins in a regular season in the program’s history. They won four playoff games to advance to the 3A West Region finals. This was their deepest playoff drive since winning the 4A state title in 2000.

Janus Sparkles

Janus had a tremendous all-star performance. She scored 15 points and registered four steals, five assists, and six rebounds. Wilcox added three steals and four points. Players had limited action, as they rotated in and out of lineups. In both all-star games, coaches tended to rotate two units in the first half, then mix and match in the second half.

The red team won 65-61, hanging on to withstand a ferocious blue comeback after leading by 20 points much of the way. The winning coaching staff is from A.C. Reynolds, led by District 12 Coach of the Year Amanda Whitaker.

Whitaker said that she was pleased with how players jelled as the game went on, considering they didn’t get to practice all together ahead of time. The opposing coach was East Rutherford’s Rachel Camp.

Coach Whitaker chuckled about a deja vu moment. Just as happened last year, two Reynolds senior girls played on opposite teams. They were 6-3 Jenna Barnes and 6-0 Landyn Stewart. Once again, the one (Stewart) playing against the team that Whitaker coached hit a three-point shot late to keep the score close. After doing so in the game a year ago, Stewart promptly grinned and gestured at Coach Whitaker. Whitaker was on the sidelines at the other end of the court. This time, Janus hit a late “trey.” But she did not gesture.

Smack Attack

Janus told the Tribune that she enjoyed going against Rocket teammate Wilcox for a change. She said that she playfully taunted Wilcox after making big plays. “I talked ‘smack’ to her.” Janus said that she plans to carry on her career at Catawba College.

Another local all-star is 5-5 guard Ellie Martin of Charles D. Owen High School. Owen is by far the closest high school to the game site of Warren Wilson, being mere miles away.

First-team all-district participants were Pisgah’s Dorothy Mills, Rosman’s Alissa Cheek, and Keira Wilson of Mountain Heritage. Heritage had the most (four) players in the girls’ all-star contest.

Owen had further representation from its athletic trainer, Crystal Rabiipour Shirk of Pardee Sports Medicine. She was on hand in case of injuries for both games. She said that she tended to a few minor ankle turns, but no serious injuries.