Hancock-Nipper Awards add to already successful seasons for recipients

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6:31pm

Natalie Irwin had lots of reasons to enjoy this basketball season. It even ended on a high note.

She and her Nashville Christian School teammates won a district championship, the program’s first since 1993, and advanced the sectional round of the playoffs.

She capped off things with the A.D. Hancock/Walter Nipper Sportsmanship award Wednesday afternoon.

“This was so special, ending like this,” Irwin said after receiving her award following a luncheon at Swett’s Restaurant in North Nashville. “The seniors, we did everything together, we were very close as a team. I could not have asked for a better ending.

“I’m kind of speechless about what it means to win this award.”

The awards, voted on by coaches, are presented annually to a deserving player from Nashville area district, region or state championship teams and to players off Nashville university teams.

Hancock, who served as administrator at Litton, Hillwood and Hunters Lane over a long career, and Nipper, the owner of Nashville Sporting Goods, were staunch supporters of the awards. Both are deceased.

“Natalie is a fantastic person, always does what’s right and a great teammate,” NCS coach Brandon Wood said. “She was a three-year starter, a team player in every way, always cheered for her teammates’ success. She is the ideal representative for this award from our school in that she epitomizes everything sportsmanship is about.”

Irwin averaged seven points and five rebounds for the Eagles, who finished 23-11 and fell one step short of the Class A state tournament.

She plans to walk on to play soccer at UT-Chattanooga.

Two schools that won state championships, Christ Presbyterian Academy and Ensworth, had recipients from both the boys and girls teams. CPA won the both Class AA titles and Ensworth won both Division II-AA crowns last month.

Ensworth’s girls recipient was Miss Basketball finalist and state tournament most valuable player Justice Swett. The boys recipient was Quint Robinson.

“Usually, the sportsmanship winner isn’t necessarily the best player on the team — but in this case, Justice clearly was,” Ensworth AD Ricky Bowers said with a laugh in introducing Swett.

CPA’s recipients were Andrew Manuel (boys) and Alyssa Shofner (girls). 

Hillsboro, the boys and girls District 11-AAA champs, also had two recipients — Micah Phillips (boys) and Tariana Carter (girls).

Other recipients were Myka Dancy (Antioch girls) and Robert Curry (Hunters Lane boys), champions from District 12-AAA.

The high school co-coaches of the year were Bowers and CPA’s Drew Maddux (boys), and their girls basketball counterparts Hubie Smith and Becky LeGate.

The university recipients: Belmont: Molly Ernst (women) and Adam Barnes (men); Fisk: Rayona Stowers (women) and Jewaun Wynn (men); Lipscomb: Hannah Phillips (women); Trevecca: Rachel Raby (women) and Peyton Henry (men); Tennessee State: Kesi Hess (women) and Jordan Cyphers (men); Vanderbilt: Elan Brown (women), James Siakam (men).

• Moss-Oliver finalists: The six finalists for the Moss-Oliver basketball awards were announced Wednesday by the awards chairman Dale Denny.

They include: Boys — Gunnar Miller (Davidson Academy), Jacob Uskavitch (Hume-Fogg) and Jacob Seloff (Hume-Fogg). Girls — Lauren Thompson (CPA), Tanginique Nowlin (Ezell-Harding), Warner Tidwell (Harpeth Hall).

Winners will be announced at following a luncheon next Wednesday at Swett’s.