Leader Blues

Friday, May 26, 2006

SPORTS >> Seventeen locals on rosters of '06 all-stars

BY RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Local athletes make up a long list of the 2006 All-Star teams. A total of 17 athletes from The Leader coverage area will be on hand next month.

Now that the high-school year is over, and all the sports that go along with it are complete, all of the 2006 All-Stars have been named and are set to head to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville June 20 to take part in the Arkansas Activities Association’s All-Star Week.

Out of the 200 or so athletes, all graduated seniors, to be invited to the camp, 17 were from within The Leader coverage area.

Local teams sent more soccer players to the northwest corner of the state than any other sport.

Six local futbol’ players will be on hand in June, including North Pulaski’s Michael Buzzitta and Rachel Hamilton. They will be joined by Searcy duo Aaron Baker and Angie Branch. Cabot’s Anthony Byrnes and Sylvan Hills’ Sarah Stevens will also be among the honored guests.

All six of the players will compete for the East All-Star team. The girls will be coached by Leah Coleman of Mountain Home. Her assistants will be Doug Maxwell of Bryant and Ron Teat of Valley View.

The boys will be led by Jonesboro coach Jeremy Moore. He will be helped by Robert Irons of Conway and T.J. Slough of Greenbrier.

Five football players were selected by the East coaching staff. Jacksonville do-everything player Lavar Neely will exhibit his skills carrying the ball. He’ll likely line up at wide receiver, and could catch a pass or two from Harding Academy quarterback Zach Tribble. So could Sylvan Hills tight-end/defensive lineman Raefe Jenkins. Jenkins will be joined by teammate T.J. Finton, who was another do-it-all type player for the Bears. Searcy kicker Tanner Gibbs rounds out the local lineup.

Those boys also get the distinguishing honor of playing the last game that Barton’s legendary coach Frank McCellan will ever coach. McCellan coached his last season as the head Bear this year. His Barton teams went five regular seasons without a loss, and won four straight state championships in the late 80s and early 90s. They were finally beaten in the state championship game in 1991, ending what is still a national record of 65 consecutive wins over nearly five complete seasons.
The honor of coaching with McCellan next month goes to Stuttgart’s Bobby Bol-ding, Mountain Home’s Shane Patrick, Clay Wiggins, Eric Hend-erson and Jim Slain.

They will have an uphill battle, however. This year’s West All-Star team has been said to be one of the most talented ever assembled for the mid-summer classic.

Two boys and two girls were selected for basketball. Both boys come from Searcy schools and both have signed Division 1 scholarships. Searcy High’s Chris Brown will see his last high-school action next month before heading off to Wichita State. River-view’s Cory Cooperwood will play for Northwestern St. Both teams won NCAA tournament games this year. Wichita State was favored in their win, while Northwestern St. pulled off one of the most exciting wins of the tournament when, as a 14 seed, they beat third-seeded Iowa.
They will be coached by Blytheville’s David Hixson. His assistants include Jonesboro’s Barry Pruitt, Dollarway’s Ellis Berry, Dion Real and Al Williams.

The ladies that will team for the East have also signed Division I schollies, but much more locally. Cabot guard-forward Kim Sitz-mann will test her skills against her class’ best before moving on to Little Rock to play for UALR.

Lonoke’s Meaghan Kelleybrew will be a freshman on University of Central Arkansas’ first-ever Division I team. Kelleybrew was part of UCA’s first DI signing class as the program moves up from DII and into the Southland Conference next season.
The East girls staff includes Dell Leonard, Darryle Long, Steve Quattlebaum, Bobby Lewallen and John Hutchcraft.

Kelleybrew’s classmate at Lonoke and teammate on the basketball team, Crystal Tompkins, won’t join her on the hardcourt at Bud Walton Arena, but will be on hand at Barnhill Arena to play for the East volleyball team.

She won’t have any teammates with her, but Lonoke coach Laura Park was selected to assist Mountain Home’s Laura Newth on the East coaching staff. Marion’s Lisa Beasley will also coach the East.

Sylvan Hills southpaw Ashur Tolliver, and Searcy’s Scott Hudgins will be at Baum Stadium for the East All-Star baseball team. They will be under the direction of Walnut Ridge coach Derek Bramlett. Across the way, Abundant Life coach Wes Johnson will head of the West squad.

Players report to Fayetteville Sunday, June 18. Games begin Tuesday with a baseball doubleheader and the boys and girls soccer games.

Softball and volleyball take place Wednesday. Boys and girls basketball games will be Thursday and the football game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium concludes the week at 7 p.m. Friday.