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Beyond the Scoreboard: Finalists for top Division II Female Team in Major Sport

Murphy center Jessica Beckner led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding to pace a 27-3 season. (Photo courtesy of Beckner).

In advance of the 57th WNC Sports Awards Banquet sponsored by Ingles, WLOS.com will honor each of the 118 WNC high-school athletes and teams chosen as finalists.

Today the honorees are the finalists in the Homewood Suites Division II Female Team in a Major Sport.

In a category loaded with great teams, the finalists include the Asheville Christian Academy volleyball team; the Carolina Days basketball squad; the Madison softball team; the Mountain Heritage girls basketball team and the Murphy basketball squad.

These five teams combined to post a 134-15 record.

** The Asheville Christian Academy volleyball team capped a perfect 27-0 season with the NCISAA state 2A title. Coach Torri Render’s Lions won the Carolinas Athletic Association regular-season title, had five all-conference selections and two players – Kate Condra and Sophie Whalen - were named all-state.

The Lions also excelled off the court, with a team grade-point average of 4,43. Team members also raised $4,000 to aid An ACA family that lost their father to cancer.

** The Carolina Day basketball continued WNC’s most enduring streak, winning their eighth consecutive NCISAA state title under veteran coach Joe Carrington.

The Wildcats finished 20-8 against a beefed-up schedule, with five losses to teams ranked in the top 50 in the country.

And all team members are actively involved in mentoring and coaching with a local youth basketball team.

** Coach Andy Gregg’s Madison softball team finished 25-2 last season, winning 25 straight games and reaching the state 2A championship series before losing.

They finished Western Highlands Conference play with a 12-0 record.

The Patriots have become of WNC’s most consistent programs, winning 22 or more games in five of the last six seasons under Gregg.

** The Mountain Heritage basketball team reached the 2A Western Regional title game to highlight a 27-2 season. Ranked among the state’s top squads all season, the Cougars won the Western Highlands Conference regular-season and tournament titles for a seventh straight season.

Over the past six seasons, coach Susie Shelton’s teams are 170-17.

The team also got it done off the court, with a grade-point average of 3.86.

** The Murphy girls joined the Heritage girls as the two WNC public school basketball teams to advance the most in the playoffs, playing in the 1A Western Regional championship game to highlight a 27-3 season.

The Bulldogs outscored opponents by an average margin of 30 points and won the Smoky Mountain Conference title for the first time since 1998.

Coach Ray Gutierrez has won 55 games in his two seasons in Murphy, the most victories by any WNC girls squad in that span. The team has a 4.2 grade-point average and all four seniors have been accepted to college.

The banquet is set for May 6 at Omni Grove Park Inn. Tickets can be purchased at wncsportsawards.org.

Care to comment? Contact Jarrett at keithjarrettasheville@gmail.com

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