Grateful for the support

Published 10:33 am Monday, December 10, 2012

Last week we wrapped up the seventh annual Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament.

The event, which is co-presented by this newspaper and United Country Joe Murray Realty, has grown from a fledgling five-school affair to a 28-team tournament which crowns champions in varsity boys, varsity girls, junior varsity boys and junior varsity girls.

This year one of our newcomers, Southampton Academy, took three of the four titles home and another first-time entry, Ocracoke School, grabbed the fourth title.

While the event has grown, it is still what it was intended to be – a time for the student-athletes in our independent and Christian schools to play good basketball, fellowship and have an opportunity to earn a college scholarship.

Joyce and Keith Brantley still are the centerpieces of the event and the student-athletes get to see them, know them and talk to them during the event. The Brantleys have become favorites of every school that has been a long-standing member of the tournament.

To date, more than 25 college scholarships have been provided to students from Ridgecroft School, Northeast Academy, Lawrence Academy, Pungo Christian School and Bethel Christian Academy.

This year the $1,000 top prize went to Karissa Cahoon, a senior at Pungo Christian Academy who simply blew the scholarship committee away with her poise, her grades and her ability to play basketball.

The criteria for the scholarship is to be a student-athlete that closely resembles the life of the man the scholarship is named for, Nick Brantley. He was a scholar-athlete with a high GPA, workmanlike attitude in the classroom and on the basketball floor. He did everything in his life with passion and the scholarship winners show that same passion.

In addition to Cahoon, three others received $500 scholarships. They were Priscilla Lunsford of Lawrence Academy and Max Boone and Jordan Harrell of Ridgecroft School.

As part of the four-person committee (along with the Brantley’s and Joe Murray), I can say the pool of applicants continues to surprise us each year. The student-athletes chosen by their schools as nominees remind us each year how good the young people in our region are. The 12 we interviewed this year were simply outstanding.

A few years ago, we added a special award to the tournament which is called the “Spirit of the Tournament” Award. It isn’t a normal “Spirit Award” which goes to the team that makes the most noise, but one that recognizes the group that gives everything they have on the floor. They play with class, but they aren’t afraid to go diving after loose balls.

This year, the Lady Warriors of Lawrence Academy earned the award. After a couple of seasons of not being competitive in the event, Lawrence finished fourth in this year’s tournament and played with heart.

I can’t say enough about the people who participated in the tournament. We had 28 teams representing nine schools and all of them were good citizens and played the way we ask our teams – with class, sportsmanship and effort.

Doug Cobbs, Ridgecroft’s Athletic Director, has served as Tournament Director since the inception of the event and Lawrence AD Robert Kravitz has helped us with hosting games most years. Their support again this year is greatly appreciated.

We also added two new sites with Pungo Christian Academy and Northeast Academy and the folks at those two schools couldn’t have been more hospitable. I appreciate their time and efforts.

The hospitality rooms provided at each of the venues was fantastic and we appreciate the efforts of Briley Hedrick at the Ridgecroft site as well as those at Pungo, Northeast and Lawrence.

Overall, the tournament was again successful as the schools will receive funds for their athletic departments and the scholarship fund grew as well.

Plans are already underway for the eighth annual event. Anyone wishing to donate to the scholarship can send it to the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship, c/o Ridgecroft School P.O. Box 1008, Ahoskie, NC 27910.


Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.