All-Stars shine for Escambia Academy

Published 4:59 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

By Staff
Tim Cottrell
As if there weren't enough accolades being heaped on the stars from Escambia Academy's boys and girls basketball teams this year, the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) and the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) have laid it on even further.
Seniors Zack Thomas, Meagan Jackson, and Kaylie Castleberry were selected to participate in the AISA All-Star game held Friday at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
All three played for the East squads in the All-Star games, and both games ended in losses for the Escambia Academy stars.
All was not lost; however, as Zack Thomas' 17 points earned him Most Valuable Player honors for the boy's All-Star game.
Jackson and Castleberry scored three and four points, respectively, in the girl's game.
Escambia Academy's Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach Jason Allen served as coach for the East squad in the All-Star event.
"I thought they represented their school well," Allen said. "They played very well, which is why they were selected. The teams lost, but they won just by being there. I thought it was good for the school and good for them."
Jackson and Castleberry enjoyed the experience of being in the All-Star game.
"It was great," Jackson said.
"Definitely," Castleberry agreed. "It was really fun getting to be there."
"Except for the fact that we got beat," Jackson replied.
"It was close," answered Castleberry.
"Doesn't matter," replied Jackson. "Doesn't matter if it's one point or 50 points, if you get beat you still get beat."
Thomas had equally mixed feelings about the outcome of the game when asked if it was an exciting trip.
"Not really," Thomas said. "We lost to the West again."
Thomas was, however, understandably happy to have been named MVP of the game.
"That was fun," Thomas said. "It was a lot different (playing with high-caliber players on both sides of the ball) because you didn't have to worry so much about scoring, because there was someone else around who could do it."
In addition to the three trips to Montgomery, news broke Monday of Thomas and Junior Lori Bonds being named finalists for the ASWA Player of the Year award for AISA.
Thomas, who had known about the situation prior to this interview, was excited about being named a finalist.
"That was one of my goals," Thomas said. "I've been working pretty hard for it."
Bonds, who seemed shocked when asked about the award, focused more on team goals for next year.
"It feels good," Bonds said. "I'd rather have championships, but it does feel good to get recognition like this. I'm out here almost every day in the summer with Coach (Heath) Gibson so I hope to get even better next year."
Thomas, Jackson, and Castleberry's careers, at least at Escambia Academy, are over. All three are currently planning for college.
"I don't know where I want to play yet," Thomas said. "Maybe somewhere like Troy."
Castleberry hasn't narrowed her choices down either.
"I want to go to college," she said. "I'm just not sure where yet."
Jackson agreed completely with Castleberry.
"Same thing," she said, laughing.
Bonds, who has one more year with the Lady Cougars, said she felt they would still be a championship-caliber team next year.
"It's going to be hard," she said. "We lost a lot of good players like Meagan and Kaylie, but I think we have a lot of good young players who can step in."

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