By Jesse Wood
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association recently recognized David Rogers, editor and publisher of Blowing Rock News, in its 2015 Best Writing Contest.
In the contest results, Rogers and Blowing Rock News stood beside sports writing stars such as John Feinstein and Dana O’Neil and publishing companies like ESPN, Sports Illustrated and the Washington Post for coverage of a Watauga High School basketball game in February.
Rogers placed fourth in the “Game Story/Sport News” contest for his story, “Taking Down the Mighty Red Tornadoes.” Placing ahead of Rogers were two Sports Illustrated pieces and a feature by John Feinstein of Washington Post about UNC Tar Hell Coach Dean Smith’s immortality in basketball lore.
“Obviously, it feels good. It’s pretty humbling to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, those icons you just mentioned,” Rogers said. “But you know, the long and short of it is, there are a bunch of guys doing great journalism in small towns, community newspapers across the country, and I just happened to be inspired at the right time with the right circumstances to capture that particular moment.”
While the story was a recap of a thrilling victory by WHS over Hickory 92-74 – the game was closer than the final score – the heart of the piece surrounds, Hunter Shore, a senior basketball player who usually rides the bench as more talented players hoop it up on the court.
The game happens to be “Senior Night,” and Shore’s friend, Matt Lambert, a senior who scored 26 points against Hickory that night, persuaded a reluctant Coach Sanders to replace himself for Shore in the final minute of the game.
Guess who scored the final points of the game and caused the crowd to erupt?
Here’s an excerpt from Rogers’ piece:
“Suddenly, somehow the ball was in Hunter Shore’s hands. The unsung senior took two steps and calmly jumped into the air for a layup, just like he’d done it a thousand or more times in practice. He scored. It was the game’s final, otherwise meaningless points, but they represented a moment that will be indelibly etched in the minds of everyone who has anything to do with Watauga basketball this year. Hunter Shore, representing the hard-working reserve players on all teams in all sports everywhere was rewarded with the kind of senior moment only written about in…well, in Hollywood.
Talking with Blowing Rock News later about that moment, Mr. Shore said, “I’m speechless. I’m overwhelmed. It is just awesome to finish up my senior year like that. It means the world to me to have my parents see me play. I love my teammates more than anything. They are my brothers. We knew we had targets on our backs. I was really nervous. I don’t get to play very often.”
Check out the entire story here.
Check out the results of the 2015 Best Writing Contest here.