Friday was a huge day for Carroll County’s athletics program as four seniors signed letters of intent to play college sports.
Volleyball senior Jessica Sheek signed her letter of intent to Averett University, while boys’ basketball seniors Gunnar Beamer (Tusculum College), Cody Keith (Roanoke College) and Duncan Reece (Emory & Henry College) all made their intentions known.
Friday was the culmination of an incredible two years for the Cavaliers’ basketball program. This year’s senior class guided CCHS to its first regional title in 33 years a year ago, the school’s first appearance in the Group AA Tournament since 1991, and tied a school record with 24 wins in 2013. This year, Carroll followed it up with an 18-7 season that saw the team reach the Conference 24 Championship game despite playing in one of the toughest leagues in the state.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for each and every one of them. The hard work they have put in since they were real little starting with AAU all the way up, it’s paying off now,” CCHS boys’ basketball coach Brad Hawks said. “To see them go on and commit to these colleges, it’s just a real big accomplishment for them.”
Beamer will follow in Hawks’ footsteps and he has accepted an athletic scholarship to play for Division II Tusculum. Despite missing time early in the season with injuries, Beamer went on to lead the Cavs with 4 assists per game to earn first-team All-Conference 24 and second-team All-Group 4-A North Region honors.
The starting point guard, Beamer also finished third on the club with 10.9 points per game while shooting 43 percent (16 of 37) from 3-point range and 74 percent (72 of 97) from the foul line. Beamer also was tied for fourth on the team with 1.3 steals per contest and hit the game-winning buzzer beater against Radford in the championship game of the Fort Chiswell Christmas Tournament.
“Some of the best times of my life were spent at Tusculum and I’m just really excited for him to be able to go and enjoy the same things that I did, enjoy that style of basketball,” Hawks said. “Last year they opened up with Notre Dame, they played the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State. I think he will really enjoy it. Coach Jones is just a really personable guy. He knows Gunnar is a winner and what he is capable of doing.”
Meanwhile, Keith and Reece will go from teammates to rivals in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Keith heads to Roanoke College to play for Page Moir and the successful Maroons’ basketball program. The winningest coach in Roanoke College history, Moir has headed the program for close to 30 years.
As a senior, Keith earned All-Conference 24 honorable mention honors after leading the team with 6.5 rebounds and finishing second on the squad with 11.8 points and 1.5 steals. A high-energy forward, Keith shot an incredible 70 percent from the floor to go along with 58 offensive rebounds.
“Cody went to Roanoke and has been there several times. I took him and we toured the campus, watched them practice and talked to the coaches. We spent a whole day down there and just felt like it was a real good fit for him,” Hawks said. “That is where (CCHS assistant coach) Tee (Jackson) played and Tee gave him the inside on that. He just seems like a really good fit down there. Cody is just so athletic and versatile he can guard anybody on the floor, and they really liked that about him.”
At 6-6, Reece has the size that all coaches are looking for. Hawks said Emory & Henry’s new coaching staff liked the Carroll senior from the first day they saw him. There, Reece will join former Carroll teammate Ryan Gravley, who was a freshman standout for the Wasps this past season.
“Emory & Henry jumped on Duncan real early. After last summer he and I went on a couple of recruiting visits early before basketball even started,” Hawks said of Reece. “They let him know how much they wanted him and saw his potential. After we visited, he just kind of put his mind that is where he was going. He just really liked it out there.”
Sheek will be leaving Carroll County’s ultra successful volleyball program to enter another top-notch program at Averett. As of the start of the 2011 season, Averett volleyball coach Danny Miller was one of 34 Division III volleyball coaches with 400 career victories. The Cougars had another fine season in 2013, finishing 27-9.
Sheek heads to Danville after a senior season in which she earned First-Team All-Conference 24 honors. A senior outside hitter, she set a new school record for serving points with 435. Sheek was huge on the offensive end for the Cavaliers, finishing second on the team with 217 kills and 53 aces, while adding 14 blocks. Sheek also received All-Region Honorable Mention honors as a senior.