Franklin players, coach get final win of the season in All-Star game
Two Franklin basketball players and one coach participated in the Blue-White All-Star game that took place last Friday night at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville. Franklin High School varsity basketball players Drew Simpson and Jacob Davis made the trip to play for the White team. The duo took part in the game with 18 other Western North Carolina varsity basketball players from various schools. FHS varsity coach Jesse Pinkston also made the trip to Roberson after being selected to coach the White team, making it a slam dunk when the White team clinched the victory, 86-80.
Maggie Stewart of Franklin was chosen to play for the girls' team, also White, but was forced out due to an injury suffered in the Panther's fourth round state playoff loss two weeks ago against the Tuscola Mountaineers.
The boy's Blue-White game has been a showcase for WNC seniors for the last 61 years. The girls' game was included 37 years ago. Proceeds collected from the admissions of the games are donated to local children with developmental disabilities. The coaches that are chosen then choose the players that will make up the teams.
Davis and Simpson capped off their senior year with one more win. The game was a barn burner from the opening buzzer that saw the teams battling back and forth. As the teams closed out the first half, Blue held a slight edge, 46-44. Upon resuming the game, White rallied back, outscoring the opposition in both the third and fourth quarters to eventually seal the victory, 86-80. Simpson and Davis were both able to put up points with Simpson scoring five and Davis adding four more.
“I was really happy that I got to play one more game with my Franklin teammate and coach,” said Simpson. “We were glad to get the win.”
After high school, Simpson looks to possibly join his sister Lindsay Simpson at Western Carolina University next fall. “I would like to maybe study engineering at Western or play ball collegiately somewhere.”
Davis, who signed with Limestone College to play football, was chosen as an alternate, but jumped at the opportunity to play.
“It was kind of tough actually. I hadn't picked up a ball since the season ended,” he laughed. “Coach texted me and asked me if I wanted to play. I said 'yeah'. I mean who wouldn't want to play with the best basketball players in Western North Carolina.”
Not only did the players get one more win for the season, but Pinkston could also relish the fact that he had been chosen to coach in the game that has become a tradition in WNC.
“When they selected me to coach, it was back in February while our season was playing out. Of course it was a great honor to be involved in something that is so beneficial for such a great cause,” said Pinkston. “I think it was a great way for Drew and Jacob to sum up their high school careers.”
The team had little time to gain the rhythm of playing together. According to Pinkston, they prepared by learning a few plays, but mostly by him encouraging them to put their talent to use and play hard. The strategy paid off, and Pinkston got to take the game ball home as proof.
“Of course it was great to coach them one more time. They've both had great varsity careers and it just means so much because not only was it fun, but I won't get any more time with them in a structured practice or game,” Pinkston said of his now former players. “They're both amazing athletes and they have always played hard for me. I know that they have some bright futures ahead of them.”