With the high school basketball season already wrapped up, players from Northwest Georgia were given the opportunity to don their school jerseys one last time.
Two Floyd County players earned MVP honors as they led their respective squads to victories in the fifth annual Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Senior All-Star Games on Thursday at Georgia Highlands College.
Model’s Megan Kent scored 16 points to lead the away team to a 92-79 win in the girls' game, and Coosa’s Kenon Dixon scored 19 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the boys’ visiting team to a 68-65 overtime victory.
Kent, who plans to attend Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama, helped carry her Lady Blue Devils to a Final Four appearance this season and says what she learned as a Model basketball player has had lasting effects on her life.
“Model taught me a lot about morals,” Kent said. “I used to be a really big hothead. Going to Model taught me how to calm down and talk to people. Wearing (the jersey) one more time was honestly an honor to go out like that. I’m going to miss it. I was trying not to cry the whole game.”
Kent was joined by Model teammate Libby Upton on the visiting squad. The home team featured several players from the area, including Armuchee’s Mary Kate Wheeler, Coosa’s Nay Millsap and Gracie Shumate, Darlington’s Sydney Seymour, GSD’s Zariah Clay, Unity Christian’s Maggie Dyer and Maggie Whitehead, Rome’s Tarrah Gibson and Tamiyah Griffin, and Chattooga’s Regan Broome.
Griffin scored 19 points for the home team and was 3 of 3 from the free throw line. Gibson scored eight points. The team was coached by Unity head coach Mel Thornbury.
Gibson saw the game as the completion of a tough season that saw her team endure several injuries but push through to the second round of the GHSA Class 5A state playoffs.
“I really wasn’t expecting to be invited here today, but I feel good to get on the court one last time and just have fun — not playing for anything just to get out there and do what you’re going to do,” Gibson said. “It’s been a hard season. We went through a lot of injuries, and a lot of people had to step up. It was tough but we made it through.”
Dixon’s three 3’s in the first half helped get his team going, and the senior finished with six points in overtime to seal the win. He said the All-Star games were a highlight of his high school career and he was glad to be a part of it after his final year with the Eagles.
“It means a lot,” Dixon said. “Coming through high school, I looked up to all the players that came here. I came to every game since I was a freshman up to now. I liked the energy, the way everyone played, the atmosphere. It’s just fun to be around, and I was glad to be a part of it. It’s tough, but I’m glad to move on to the next chapter.”
Dixon, who is looking at Reinhardt, Gadsden State Community College and Berry as places to continue his basketball career, said he learned a lot about leadership in his senior year.
“This season was my favorite, because it was my time to take over as a leader on my team and show the young guys how to lead,” Dixon said. “They were looking up to me, and that’s how I was two or three years ago.”
Dixon was joined on the visiting team by Coosa teammate Sean Brown, who scored eight points. The squad also featured Rome’s Malik Stewart and Kamen Brown, Chattooga’s Jundraius Adams and Devin Price, Rockmart’s Sam DePew, Georgia School for the Deaf’s DeMarco Brown, and Trion’s Brier Ingle.
Local players on the home team were Model’s Kidron Ford and Armuchee’s Eli Brock.
Stewart, who scored eight points for the away team, said the experience was an emotional one.
“I’ve been waiting for moments like, to move on to the next things in life,” Stewart said. “This jersey means a lot to me. It almost made me want to cry at one point because my high school career is over with. I just want to thank my coaches for preparing me to play college ball.”