Beyond the Scoreboard: Mountain Heritage ranks as WNC’s top athletic school this season

Beyond the Scoreboard: Mountain Heritage ranks as WNC’s top athletic school this season
Hali King (left) and Ciera Chandler are the leading scorers for the top-ranked Mountain Heritage girls basketball team. (Photo courtesy of Susie Shelton)

The boys’ football team won 13 straight games and reached the semifinal round of the state 2A playoffs.

The boys’ basketball team has won 22 straight games and is two wins away from an appearance in the state title game. So is the girls basketball team that – just like the boys – is the Western Region’s top seeded team.

Among all the WNC schools, no program has been so successful in those three major sports than the Cougars, who have been nearly perfect since August.

None of the three teams lost a Western Highlands Conference game, posting a combined league record of 25-0.

Overall, the football and two basketball teams are 62-3 and all have dominated most of their opponents.

The football team coached by Joey Robinson ran over opponents all season, with a 604-238 edge in scoring margin. They finished 13-1 and bulldozed opponents with a rushing attack that gained 5,475 yards, led by the incredible 3,146-yard season of quarterback Trey Robinson, the coach’s son.

One game away from playing for a state title, the Cougard lost 27-20 to Reidsville.

Trey is a player and Joey is an assistant on the 23-1 basketball team directed by coach Hank Newson. While breezing through the league with a 10-0 mark, the Cougars have gotten great play from a trio of underclassmen while beating 18 opponents by double digits.

Junior Brandon Aumiller averages 16.2 points a game, while sophomores Justus Shelton (15 points, 8.2 rebounds per game) and sophomore Callin Randolph (14.4 ppg) are all having great seasons.

In mid-December, with the football players still getting into basketball shape, Reynolds beat Mountain Heritage 91-81. The Cougars have won 22 straight since then and play at home at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 4 seed Salisbury (26-3) in the fourth round of the 2A playoffs.

The girls team is in the midst of a dynastic run under coach Susie Shelton – the program is 169-16 over the past six seasons and has won seven straight WHC regular-season and tournament titles.

This season, seniors Ciera Chandler (15.8 ppg) and Hali King (10.2) led a 26-1 unit that has won all but two games by 10 points or more. Their only loss was a midseason 69-63 decision to Smoky Mountain, another 2A power.

The Cougars host No. 17 Wilkes Central (17-12) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in fourth-round postseason action.

No other WNC school has come close to matching Mountain Heritage in the success level of three major sports. Cherokee is 49-13, with the 14-1 football team winning a state title and the boys basketball team finishing 16-6.

The Braves’ girls basketball team is 19-6 and plays Murphy (26-2) in a fourth-round 1A playoff match-up.

The Reynolds football team (14-2) reached the 4A state title game and the basketball team (22-5) won a share of the Western Mountain Athletic Conference.

Joey Robinson said the entire school is savoring this athletic season.

“I’ve been here 20 years and we’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said. “It’s been pretty incredible. In our three major sports, we’ve had just three losses.

“I tell our principal and everyone involved to not taken this for granted, because a run like this doesn’t happen very often.”

Obviously the school has enjoyed a run of talented athletes, but Robinson said it is more than that.

“It has been the leadership,” he said. “This senior class is not only full of good athletes but outstanding students, and they show that leadership on and off the courts and fields.”

Setting a 62-3 standard will be hard to match, but Robinson said the tradition of leadership and winning is one that can be upheld.

“A new culture has been set, and our athletes expect to win. They also hold their teammates accountable in the classroom and on the court.”