While athletes dream of hitting the game-winning shot or putting on a shooting clinic, Bolton was slowed the day before the girls basketball game in the 17th Annual All-Star Sports Week.
“I went up for a rebound and came down wrong,” Bolton said. “It was kind of bothering me. There’s been a little swelling in it. It’s very frustrating. I was really ready to go and really enjoyed the experience, but it was holding me back from playing. I was probably only about 75 percent.”
Bolton spent the first quarter Wednesday watching the North put on a show when she wasn’t trying to make her ankle brace more comfortable. By the time the game was well in hand in the fourth quarter, Bolton had ice on her ankle.
“In the fourth quarter, I told the coaches I just couldn’t go,” Bolton said.
However, Bolton’s injury didn’t hold her back from enjoying her team’s 84-36 win or the experience in Montgomery.
“I feel like it’s all about the memories,” she said. “Most of these girls will be Division I college basketball players. We had fun with the team, and we made something out of nothing everywhere we went.”
She didn’t score but did finished the night with three steals.
“I feel like defense gets me started — that’s my offense,” Bolton said.
Added Bolton: “I dwell on defense, actually. I don’t feel like I should dwell on scoring. With my ankle, I really couldn’t get up high, so I just tried to box out and do my part.”
Meanwhile, midway through the fourth quarter, Woodland star Leah Strain sat on the North bench with one leg crossed over the other. Her team had a commanding lead by that point, and she appeared to not have a care in the world.
“It was nice,” Strain said. “There’s always good competition in the North-South All-Star Game, so to just sit and relax a little bit and not be stressed (was nice).”
The biggest contribution to the North’s success came from Shakayla Thomas, who won most valuable player honors for her team. The Sylacauga forward put on a clinic of fundamentals and finished the night with 19 points and five rebounds.
Strain, who started for the North, began the game by looking to pass first, but in the second half, she hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
“It was good to get all those nerves out because I was just nervous. When I hit it I was just glad it went in,” she said. “I was feeling a little bit more confident, so I thought I’d take another shot.”
Strain finished with six points, four rebounds and three steals, as the North took a 15-2 lead in the series.
Despite playing only nine minutes in the North’s dominant 96-68 win over the South Wednesday night, Weaver guard Chris English wasn’t disappointed. Afterward, he was all smiles.
Rather than complain about the lack of playing time, English said he knew he was already a better player.
“You just have to stay positive. I had to guard (Justin Coleman) the whole day at practice and that right there made me better,” English said. “I learned some stuff from him that he taught me.”
Coleman, a Wenonah star who English played behind, scored 22 points for the North while playing 20 minutes in the 40-minute game.
One of the biggest things English said he’s taking from the experience is learning to play more physical, something he did when he scored his first two points. After getting the ball at the top of the key, the guard forced his way through two South forwards before putting in an easy layup.
“I was trying to get the ball up high and not get blocked,” English said. “Before the game the coach told us to play more physical because the South plays more physical. I just tried to be physical.”
Before the lopsided game was over, English also hit a 3-pointer from the corner, finishing the game with five points and a rebound.
“I just had confidence in my shot,” he said. “He passed it to me and I knew I needed to knock it down and I did.”
The North leads the series 45-25 dating back to 1953.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.