In advance of the 57th WNC Sports Awards Banquet sponsored by Ingles, WLOS.com will honor each of the 118 WNC high-school athletes and teams chosen as finalists.
Today the honorees are the finalists for the Merrill Lynch/Keller Ferrell Division II Male Athlete in a Major Sport.
In what may be the deepest category of any of the 22 awards presented, this impressive group includes some of the top players in WNC.
The finalists are Josh Cottrell, Hayesville basketball; Joey Curry, Murphy baseball and football; Jalen Lecque, Christ School basketball; Tye Mintz, Cherokee basketball and football; Trey Robinson, Mountain Heritage football and Ben Young, Mitchell football.
** Josh Cottrell of Hayesville (2,007 career points) is the fourth WNC male basketball player in history to surpass 2,000 points. The area’s all-time scoring leader is his father and coach of the Yellowjackets, Michael Cottrell (2,503).
Josh holds school records in career points, points in a season (711), points in a game (45) and steals in a season (104).
He was the Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year in basketball and an all-conference golfer. He has a 4.58 grade-point average and will play basketball at Western Carolina, where his grandfather Steve once coached.
** Joey Curry is a two-sport standout at Murphy High. As a quarterback, he led the Bulldogs to a state title in 2016 and finished his career with 6,124 yards of offense, including 5,229 yards passing.
He threw for 56 touchdowns with just six interceptions, and he led Murphy to a 28-4 record the past two seasons.
In baseball, he is a two-time Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year. Last season he hit .538 with 31 RBIs and was named all-state. Curry will attend Western Carolina.
** As a junior, Jalen Lecque is the 10th ranked basketball player in the country in his class, according to ESPN.
He has almost 40 Division I scholarship offers, with many more to come.
Lecque was selected to the all-conference and all-state teams and was chosen the Carolinas Athletic Association Player of the Year after averaging 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.
** To highlight a busy senior season, Tye Mintz led Cherokee to the state 1A championship in football.
The Braves’ quarterback finished four years with 10,146 yards of total offense, the fourth-best mark in WNC history. His total of 108 touchdowns rushing and passing are third all-time in this area.
This season, he had 3,168 yards of total offense in football and averaged 17.4 points and 10 rebounds in basketball.
He also qualified for the Western Regionals in three track and field events – at 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4X200 relays. Mintz will attend Kennesaw State.
** Quarterback Trey Robinson of Mountain Heritage is WNC’s all-time total yardage leader with 12,993 yards, one of seven WNC career records he holds, including rushing yards (8,552); rushing touchdowns (109); 100-yard rushing games (43); rushing attempts (1,117); points scored (767) and TD responsibility (170).
In 2017 he led the Cougars to a 13-1 record with 3,146 yards rushing, 45 touchdowns and 316 points scored, all of which ranked No. 1 in the state.
Robinson also was a four-time all-conference pick in basketball and will attend East Tennessee State.
** Ben Young finished his career with the most WNC career wins as a quarterback (47) and in games played (58). As a four-year starter, he never missed a game.
He ranks second all-time in four WNC categories – total offense (11,235 yards), TD responsibility (143), passing yardage (7,972) and passing touchdowns (87).
Young also holds seven school records. He has a 3.79 grade-point average and will attend Appalachian State.
The 57th WNC Sports Awards Banquet is set for May 6 at Omni Grove Park Inn. Tickets can be purchased at wncsportsawards.org.