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Fans turn out to watch BHS face ACC stars
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Cole Wylie, 4, got to hand the basketball to N.C. State’s T.J. Warren to start the second half of a game Wednesday between Bassett High School basketball players and an all-star ACC team. The game was part of the ACC Barnstorming Tour. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By DEREK MAJOR - Bulletin Staff Writer

A basketball contest that pitted Atlantic Coast Conference stars against some of Bassett High School’s best — past and present — drew close to 1,000 fans to the high school Wednesday night.

The ACC Barnstorming Tour, which has taken top college players to compete in various communities for 36 years, made its first stop of the 2014 season Wednesday at Bassett High School. The ACC team was coached by the 1978 college basketball player of the year and former UNC great Phil Ford, who led his players to a 106-102 victory over a team made up of Bassett all-stars.

The Bassett players — including a group from the class of 2006, one of the school’s best — faced off against ACC stars from schools such as N.C. State, Duke, Wake Forest and UNC.

The ACC players included Wake Forest’s Coron Williams and Travis McKie; N.C. State’s Jordan Vandenberg and ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren; North Carolina’s James Manor, Wade Moody, Denzel Robinson and Leslie McDonald; and Duke’s Todd Zafirovski, Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins and Josh Hairston.

The game itself was closer than expected, with Bassett’s players hitting a barrage of three-pointers in both halves and even maintaining the lead throughout the game’s first 10 minutes.

The night offered plenty of chances for the crowd — estimated at between 700 and 1,000 — to interact with the ACC stars. Some lucky fans got to shoot free throws during the game or hand the ball to an ACC player for an in-bounds pass. The ACC players also signed autographs for roughly 10 minutes after the game and took photos with fans.

Three-point and dunk contests during halftime were a highlight. During the three-point contest, each player got five attempts from anywhere behind the line.

Duke’s Dawkins went one-of-four, and North Carolina guard McDonald missed all five of his attempts. Bassett guard Travis Koger, who will graduate in a few months, hit two of his attempts, and 2008 BHS grad Nick Goforth won the contest by hitting three of his five tries.

During the dunk contest, James Turner got the chance to represent Bassett but missed all three of his attempts. The crowd declared Dawkins the winner when he dunked two balls on one attempt.

“The dunk contest was easily the best part, but it was nice to see the Bassett team come out and compete; it really made for a fun night,” said fan D.J. Moore.

In the second half, Bassett continued its great outside shooting, tying the game at 68 and keeping it close throughout. When N.C. State’s Warren was fouled late in the game, Trissie Blankenship, a volunteer for the event, got a chance to shoot a free throw for him but missed. Still, she enjoyed the experience.

“I loved it; shooting the free throw for the game and missing was definitely my favorite part,” she said.

The crowd was enough to fill half of the gym and included people from throughout the area. Magna Vista basketball coach Clay Henson said he thought it was a great turnout for the community.

“I thought this was really great for the community to come out and support the cause,” Henson said. “I saw people from all over the county here tonight enjoy the game and each other’s company.”

Proffitt explained that bringing the tour to Bassett was a long process. BHS was the only stop in Virginia for this year’s tour.

“About two years ago we contacted the ACC and told them we’d be interested in being a school for the tour,” Proffitt said. “They contacted us earlier this year and told us we were one of the schools under consideration and they were going to do a site visit. We showed them the gym and told them we can get people to come and they made the decision to give us a chance.”

As of Wednesday night, he was already looking ahead to a return engagement.

“I hope they give us another chance to hold this event,” Proffitt said. “I feel like if the ACC decides to give us another chance and we can hold it on a Friday or a Saturday night, we can pack this gym completely out.”

“Either way it was a great, fun evening. The three-point contest and dunk contest were great, and I’m really glad the fans came out to see and enjoy the experience.”


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