South Lenoir's West, Kinston's Heath play in NCCA All-Star Game
South Lenoir's Hunter West takes a shot while being contested by Kinston's Danielle Heath in a Jan. 19 contest. Photo by William 'Bud' Hardy / Neuse News
The last high school basketball game in the storied career of two local players took place this week.
On Monday, Kinston’s Danielle Heath and South Lenoir’s Hunter West represented their schools for the final time at the NCCA All-Star Game Monday at Greensboro Coliseum. After four years of intense battles as Eastern Carolina 2A foes, the two have played their final games as teammates -- first in March at the Craven County All-Star Classic before Monday’s event.
“We had a lot of fun working with each other and holding conversations about the game,” Heath said. “Hunter and I had a lot of great times on and off the court.”
Heath, who will head to UNC-Pembroke in the fall, was a late addition to the East-West All-Star game, but she cherished the experience to close out a strong career. The Vikings finished 93-27 during her four years, including three conference championships, two Eastern Regional appearances and a state title game berth in 2015.
“It was a very fun experience practicing with the girls,” Heath said. “There were a lot of high-caliber players and being able to help each other get better was important with all of us looking to play basketball in college. It meant everything to be here and it showed that hard work paid off.
"I really loved my four years of high school and senior year is always the biggest.”
West finished her career with the Blue Devils as the all-time leader in points scored (1,691), rebounds (1,141) and blocked shots (391) while helping South Lenoir win a conference title in 2017.
West had limited time with her new teammates, returning from a week-long mission trip in the Dominican Republic on Saturday with two practices Sunday and a shoot-around before Monday’s game.
“It was a bit hard to get back into the swing of things, but after having the chance to interact with the girls and I was able to get 12 hours of sleep, I was able to get back to it,” West said.
West, who received a Morehead-Cain Scholarship from UNC and will look to walk on with the Tar Heels, said she was thankful for everyone who helped her carve out a memorable career.
“I think all of my success is a testament to the Lord, the community I grew up in, my high school coach, parents, sisters and teammates,” West said. “I’m definitely thankful for them and they allowed me to grow as a player.”
Although the East fell to the West, 95-81, East coach Kim Miller of Swansboro High School had high praise for both players.
“They were really great to work with,” Miller said. “They were coachable, took advice and made corrections. We were a little over-matched height-wise (against the West) but they did everything we asked them to.”