Dale County senior Keshaun Martin and Enterprise coach Rhett Harrelson had special seasons this year in high school basketball.
Those special seasons have led a special award in their opinions – the Dothan Eagle Super 12 Player and Coach of the Year for boys basketball in the Wiregrass.
Martin, a 5-foot-11 guard, was named the Dothan Eagle Player of the Year after averaging 22.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.4 steals, 3.3 assists and 1.1 blocks a game in helping Dale County match its most wins since 2008-09 with a 20-8 record.
Harrelson, in his third year leading his alma mater, guided the Wildcats to a 22-7 record against a strong schedule and to a Class 7A state runner-up finish to receive the Dothan Eagle Coach of the Year award. The state championship game appearance was the first in boys basketball history at Enterprise.
Martin reaches his goalsDale County’s Martin admitted he was taken aback when informed by his coach, James Edmonds, that he was chosen the player of the year.
“I was really surprised,” Martin said. “I didn’t really believe him because nobody from Dale County has ever won it. I was just really surprised.”
Martin added, “It is special. I really didn’t think I was going to win it, so it is just an honor.”
While his main goal of helping the Warriors reach the state tournament fell short with a Class 4A sub-regional loss, Martin accomplished some individual goals, including increasing his assist total from last year’s 2.2 to this year’s 3.3 total.
“Super 12 and Player of the Year was one of them,” Martin said of his goals. “I just wanted to get my assists up, playmaking wise.”
Edmonds, his coach at Dale County, also noted postseason accolades were a priority for Martin, who was also named second team all-state in Class 4A.
“He has had a chip on his shoulder about wanting to be the player of the year for the last couple of years,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds said setting up teammates for points was important this year for his senior standout.
“That was a big thing this season compared to last year,” Edmonds said. “He got his teammates a lot more involved. He averaged the most assists he has ever averaged. He trusted his teammates more this year.”
While only 5-foot-11 and listed as a guard, Martin plays bigger than his size, said Edmonds, with a knack for going down low and competing for rebounds and also driving against bigger players.
“You look at him and he looks like he would be a running back as he has always had a muscular build to him,” Edmonds said. “He works out hard in the weight room and he will go get down and get putbacks. He will attack the basket.”
Martin finished the season with the most total points (621) of any boys player in the Wiregrass, continuing his tradition to excel on offense.
“It was nothing that was surprising,” Edmonds said. “He has led us in scoring since he was in the ninth grade. He has always been able to put it in the basket.”
The Warrior star has not signed yet with a college program. Several junior colleges have expressed interest.
Harrelson leads special runAs a seventh grader, Rhett Harrelson recalls with pride watching Enterprise basketball.
“I was probably 12 or 13 years old when I saw our Enterprise team – the 2007 team — go 31-3,” Harrelson said of the Wildcats’ regional finals team. “I saw that, saying I want to be a part of that. I want to do that when I go to Enterprise High School.”
While the Wildcats had some success when he starred there, he never had a team reach those heights.
He has now as a coach, guiding Enterprise to its first state championship appearance which helped him be chosen as Dothan Eagle Coach of the Year.
“Really special,” Harrelson said. “We had a really special year, had a special group, special team.
“There are lot of great coaches around this area who have been doing this for a while — who I respect and rely on a lot about a lot of different things – so I am really honored and feel special to be the coach of the year.”
A 2012 Enterprise graduate who was a two-time all-state selection with 2,322 career points with the Wildcats and later a standout at Western Carolina, Harrelson quickly deflected the award to others, including new assistants John Wadsworth and Allen Catrett, who guided Opelika and Red Level for more than a decade each before coming to Enterprise this year.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our assistant coaches,” Harrelson said. “We had two assistant coaches come on our staff this year who were head coaches for 10-plus years at other places. To add those two guys to what we already had was really big.”
The Wildcat coach also credited his players, saying they were always team-oriented.
“It was a special group in terms of how they got along and spent time with each other,” Harrelson said. “I think you could put one through 12 and take any one or four or five and mix and match them and all of them could have gotten along. A lot of teams don’t have that. I think that took us over the edge you could say.”
Before the season began, Harrelson, who was in his third year at EHS after a year as a graduate assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University, felt the chances for a strong season were present based off the returning experience
“At the beginning of the year, I knew we had a chance to be good, but a lot of it came down to how hard we would play and how hard we were willing to play and how long we were willing to do that,” Harrelson said.
Playing a strong schedule that featured three of the four semifinalists in both Class 6A and 7A, Enterprise had a few hiccups before finishing strong to reach the 7A finals off a dramatic 57-56 double overtime win over Spain Park on Josh McCray’s putback at the buzzer. The run ended with a 41-37 championship loss to Oak Mountain.
“I am still not over it,” Harrelson said, speaking three weeks after the title game. “The guys are still are not over it. To be that close and not be able to finish it out, it stings and it probably always will. But at the same time once you look back, you think about Josh’s buzzer beater, you think about how far we were able to get and being the first (boys basketball) team in Enterprise history to make it to a state championship game is extremely, extremely special to me.
“Enterprise High School is where I developed my love for basketball and to be able to make a run like that and see people in our community passionate about basketball and young people excited about basketball and wanting to play is extremely, extremely special.”
Members of the Super 12 team featured in the print edition on Sunday: Keshaun Martin (Dale County), Quentin Hayes (Enterprise), Josh Paige (Eufaula), Akeives Shorts (Charles Henderson), Patrick Burke (Headland), Erik Matthews (Opp), Jaylen Nobles (Slocomb), Devontae White (Wicksburg), Hayes Floyd (Ariton), Raymon Byrant (Cottonwood), Emmanuel Henderson (Geneva County), Nolan Perry (Wiregrass Kings).
Keshaun Martin, Dale County
Player of the Year
Senior, 5-foot-11 guard
In 28 games, Martin averaged 22.2 points (621), 6.7 rebounds (187), 3.3 assists (93), 4.4 steals (124) and 1.1 blocks (31).
Quentin Hayes, Enterprise
Junior 6-1, guard
In 29 games, Hayes averaged 13.3 points (387), 5.5 rebounds (160), 2.2 assists (64) and 1.8 steals (53) for Class 7A state runner-up Wildcats.
Josh Paige, Eufaula
Junior, 6-4 guard
In 35 games, Paige averaged 14.4 points (503), 5.1 rebounds (177), 2.4 assists (83) and 2.1 steals (74) for Class 6A state semifinal Tigers.
Akeives Shorts, Charles Henderson
Junior, 5-11 guard
In 26 games, Shorts averaged 21.5 points (559), 6.5 rebounds (169), 3.7 assists (96) and 4.3 steals (114).
Patrick Burke, Headland
Junior, 6-1 guard
In 16 games, Burke averaged a Wiregrass-best 24.8 points a game (397). He also hit 81.7 percent on free throws (89-of-109).
Erik Matthews, Opp
Senior, 6-foot-6 guard/forward
In 20 games, Matthews averaged 20.2 points (383), 9.5 rebounds (189), 3.0 assists (59), 1.6 steals (31) and 1.3 blocks (25) a game.
Jaylen Nobles, Slocomb
Junior, 6-foot-1 guard
In 26 games, Nobles averaged 19.7 points (513), 12.5 rebounds (326), 4.5 assists (116) and 2.7 steals (71) a game.
Devontae White, Wicksburg
Junior, 6-foot-2 guard
In 28 games, White averaged 19.1 points (535), 6.0 rebounds (168), 3.2 assists (89) and 1.6 steals (46) a game.
Hayes Floyd, Ariton
Senior, 6-foot-3 guard/forward
In 26 games, Floyd averaged 13.5 points (351), 11.0 rebounds (287), 8.1 assists (211) and 2.6 steals (68) a game.
Raymon Bryant, Cottonwood
junior, 6-2 guard
In 22 games, Bryant averaged 20.9 points (460) and 8.3 rebounds (183). He hit 77.3 percent on free throws (102-of-132).
Emmanuel Henderson, Geneva County
Junior, 6-foot-2 guard
In 24 games, Henderson averaged 21.5 points (515), 7.5 rebounds (181), 3.8 assists (90) and 4.8 steals (115).
Nolan Perry, Wiregrass Kings
Senior, 5-foot-11 guard
In 30 games, Perry, in only 19 minutes per game, averaged 18.2 points (545), 3.6 rebounds (107), 1.9 assists (56) and 2.3 steals (70). He hit 83.7 percent on free throws (98-of-117) and had 83 3-pointers.