RONDA — In a gym that’s usually filled with red and black, the East Wilkes High School gym was filled with different shades of blue on Monday night. A tradition for 38 years, the ACC Barnstorming Tour made a stop at East Wilkes, and brought along Marcus Paige, Joel James and Nolan Smith to entertain a sold-out crowd.
The Barnstorming tour brings ACC seniors to high schools and gives them the chance to show off their skills while playing against local high school players. The local high school talent included players from Starmount, Mount Airy, East Wilkes, Wilkes Central and West Wilkes.
Starmount players Andrew Smythers, Kyler Gregory and Brandon Prescott as well as Mount Airy’s Clay Mounce all got in on the action on Monday night. Other players included Camon Bryan, Andrew Nance and Shareef Ray from East Wilkes, North Wilkes’ Dylan Bauguess and Cameron Tribble, West Wilkes’ Alex Greer, and Kruz Lowe, Dante Turbyfill, Zech Wilborn and Josh Hickman from Wilkes Central.
UNC legend Phil Ford, who was assisted by Duke legend Nolan Smith, coached the ACC All-Stars Team. Along with Ford and Smith, the team included UNC players Marcus Paige, Joel James, Wade Moody, Justin Coleman, Toby Egbuna and Spenser Dalton, NC State player Chase Cannon, Wake players Cody Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas, and Cor-J Cox from Mississippi Valley State. Along with the ACC players, Pet Sumner and Jack Sumner, who put on the Tour each year with their father, got in on the action.
“It’s always a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity for me to get to know the other ACC players that go to different schools and to meet people within the community that I wouldn’t usually get to meet,” Coach Phil Ford said after the game. “To get to go around to the different communities and meet the fans, it’s always a lot of fun for everyone involved.”
The game included a three-point contest, which UNC player and Mount Airy alum Wade Moody won, and a dunk contest that Mount Airy’s Clay Mounce won. Mounce also was voted Werner Ladder player of the game for his impressive skills. There was no doubt that Mounce made a lasting impression on the sold-out crowd with his incredible dunks. At one point during the game, Mounce threw down an in-between the legs dunk that brought several sections of the crowd to their feet and even made Nolan Smith, Marcus Paige, and Joel James stand up off the bench to give him a round of applause.
“Tonight was pretty great, especially getting to see how good some of these high school players are,” said UNC player Joel James. “Getting to play in front of people you’ve never played in front of before is always fun. This has been a great experience so far.”
During the game, the local high school team didn’t let the ACC team run up the score without putting up a fight. The first basket of the night went to the high school team as it opened up the scoring with a three-point basket from an East Wilkes player. Although it looked like the high school team was going to be able to stick with the ACC team, that thought didn’t last long. The next few possessions the ACC team had, it threw down reverse dunks and alley-oops.
At the end of the first, the ACC team had control of the game with a 30-19 lead. For the rest of the game, the high school team tried to battle back but it ended up losing to the ACC team 104-88.
“This is the most people we’ve had, we’ve been able to do two of these so far, but this is definitely the most people we’ve had come out,” said UNC player Toby Egbuna. “It’s the most controlled crowd I’ve seen, and people are really friendly here, so I had a lot of fun.”
Although the night belonged to the ACC team, the game wasn’t just about dunks, alley-oops, and three-point shots — the proceeds of the game went to East Wilkes High School and The Ronald McDonald House. The game also brought the sold-out crowd together no matter what team they supported. At one point, the crowd started chanting “TAR,” “HEELS” across the court while Marcus Paige was standing in the center circle waving his hands.
“I loved the game and the atmosphere tonight. It was a packed house which is something cool to see,” Paige said after the game. “There was definitely a lot of Carolina Blue in the stands, so I really enjoyed that.”
Kristian Russell can be reached at 336-258-4052 or on Twitter @YadkinElkSports.