End of the road for standout athletes

Among the few downfalls to my job is watching the high school careers of the kids I follow come to an end. It has to happen sometime, but the longer I’ve been here, the tougher it is to witness this, especially when you’ve had a career as big as New Albany’s Jazmine Spears.
I did not make any of the girls’ opening round playoff games on Monday, because of the long distance each of the teams made for their respective first round match ups. I regret this now, as Spears’ career came to an end in the 61-60 loss at Greenwood.
Spears has answered the call for the Lady Bulldogs the last two seasons, carrying the team, leading them in nearly every statistical category. Her 29 point, 20 rebound performance against Greenwood was simply described as a “typical” performance.
Not including the final two games, Spears averaged nearly 28 points per game and 15 rebounds per game. And she did all of this while working with a young and upcoming team.
I’ve had the priveledge of watching Jazmine play throughout her high school career, beginning as an 8th grader. Much like former Myrtle standout, Aspriona Gilbert, it has been a treat to watch her grow throughout her career, and I’m glad that I also witnessed her state championship win a couple of years ago.
Spears is not the only standout player whose career came to an end in the last week. Among the elite players I’ve watched over the last few years are Myrtle’s Robert Montgomery and Keon Hampton, East Union’s Dontrell Lattimore and West Union’s Chase Taylor.
These athletes, and many others, have done their part to continue the excellence of basketball in Union County. I still have two teams playing in the north half tournament, and my hope is I can follow them to Jackson.
Good luck to Ingomar and New Albany in north half, and for the remaining schools, we will make the transition into the spring season this weekend. I’m looking forward to adding those sports to my schedule and moving into the final stretch of this school year.