02/18/13 — Chargers' Best, Atkinson take home league's top honors

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Chargers' Best, Atkinson take home league's top honors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 18, 2013 1:47 PM


News-Argus Sports Editor

A seventh-grader grew up and joined an elite class of players.

A transfer held himself accountable and responsible on the basketball court this season.

And each Wayne Country Day standout earned an unexpected -- but deserving -- reward during the season-ending Coastal Plains Independent 1-A Conference basketball tournament Saturday afternoon.

Senior Sarah Best earned the girls' player-of-the-year award, while junior Lee Atkinson picked up the boys' POY plaque.

Best averaged 16.3 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game this season. She recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career and is the third WCDS player to win the league's POY award during head coach Eric Perry's tenure on the bench.

Bridgette Briggs and Catherine Ford have also received the honor.

"I really pushed her hard this year (physically and mentally) because I wanted her to reach her full potential as a player," Perry said. "She had the difficult task of being the primary ballhandler and scorer. Sarah is such an unselfish person that it was hard for her to take on the mentality of a primary scorer.

"Her teammates helped her realize they needed her to be more aggressive offensively for them to have success."

Hannah Pearson, Karis Hawkins and Bailee Creger joined Best on the all-CPIC squad. The foursome helped lead the Chargers to a runner-up finish against Oakwood in the CPIC tournament.

Based on its strength of schedule, WCDS (10-12 overall) hopes to receive an at-large bid to the N.C. Independent Athletic Association state tournament. The 12-team field will be released today.

Atkinson is described as a "quiet storm" by head coach Terry Jones.

Soft-spoken off the court, Atkinson's intense play speaks volumes on the court. He's played through nagging knee injuries throughout the season and helped lead the Chargers to a top-three finish in CPIC play.

"There wasn't any night where I ever felt he did not give everything he had," Jones said. "(There are) never any excuses, never backing down from a challenge ... his play and leadership were unanimously recognized amongst the coaches of our conference."

The Chargers (16-8) play with the reminder each game that they alone determine the team's success or failure on the court, and must be accountable as well as responsible for their actions.

Jones says that philosophy has helped Atkinson mature mentally as a player, and will undoubtedly lead to further success during his senior season.