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The Los Angeles Lakers made Andre Ingram’s dream of playing basketball in the NBA a reality 15 years after Ingram, a Highland Springs High graduate, was selected The Richmond Times-Dispatch/Sports Backers male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2003.

Ingram, who went on to star at American University and had toiled in NBA Development leagues since 2007, made the most of his chance in April and produced a fascinating feel-good story.

Where might any of the 20 finalists who will be honored at this year’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year banquet and awards ceremony on June 4 at The Jefferson Hotel be in 15 years?

The 10 boys and 10 girls finalists were chosen by a 10-member panel representing The Times-Dispatch and Sports Backers. The 20 were selected from a pool of 92 seniors who were nominated by their school or were Scholar-Athlete of the Month winners.


Boys scholar-athlete finalists

Ian Baker, Monacan

Greg Cuffey, Hopewell

Maddison Furman, St. Christopher's

Collin Gerardi, Powhatan

John King, Goochland

Grant Northcutt, Cosby

Cory O'Shea, Mills Godwin

Joe Paul, Maggie Walker

Scott Phillips, Collegiate

Matthew Whelan, J.R. Tucker

Girls scholar-athlete finalists

Carter Bristow, Douglas Freeman

Imani Edmonds, Hopewell

Madison Goff, Goochland

Ashley Henneberger, Glen Allen

Madison Jiranek, St. Catherine's

Lexi Long, Deep Run

Lauren McCarey, Maggie Walker

Cara Menges, St. Catherine's

Addie Nash, Trinity Episcopal

Maiya Pencile, Matoaca


Ingram will be the speaker for the banquet, although it will be a conversation instead of formal remarks. Ingram has a Wikipedia page, and his 19-point performance (including four 3-pointers) in his NBA debut is all over YouTube. At 32, he became the oldest American rookie in the NBA since at least 1964.

While at Highland Springs, Ingram was a two-time All-Metro first-team selection, and he led the Springers to the 2002-03 Group AAA basketball championship.

Scholarships this year total $70,000. The boys and girls overall winners receive $7,500 scholarships each. The runners-up receive $5,000 scholarships and the other 16 finalists receive $2,500 each. Since the T-D/Sports Backers partnership began 27 years ago, 514 scholar-athletes have received $1,033,000 in scholarship money.

The Sports Backers will present two new, need-based scholarships ($2,500 each) this year.

Each high school in the T-D’s primary circulation area was given the opportunity to nominate one senior girl and one senior boy for the award. Eight seniors who were Scholar-Athletes of the Month were nominated as their school’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Three of the finalists — Cara Menges of St. Catherine’s, Matthew Whelan of J.R. Tucker and Maddison Furman of St. Christopher’s — were Scholar-Athlete of the Month winners and not year-end nominees.

Four schools have two finalists. Hopewell, Goochland and Maggie Walker have a male and female. St. Catherine’s has two females.

Five of the girls — Carter Bristow of Douglas Freeman, Lexi Long of Deep Run, Ashley Henneberger of Glen Allen, Imani Edmonds of Hopewell and Madison Goff of Goochland — are valedictorians. Cory O’Shea of Mills Godwin is the one guy to rank No. 1 in his class.

Greg Cuffey of Hopewell, Collin Gerardi of Powhatan and Grant Northcutt of Cosby have been recognized as All-Metro athletes of the year. Joe Paul of Maggie Walker was undefeated as a wrestler and won a second state title. Collegiate, led by Scott Phillips, just won a state team tennis title. Monacan’s Ian Baker set a school record for wrestling victories. Furman is a baseball standout. Goochland’s John King, a letterman in baseball and football, was recognized by the Virginia High School League as its Class 2 male athlete of the year

Whelan and Bristow are outstanding swimmers. Goff (volleyball) and Edmonds (basketball) were captains of their teams. Henneberger is a track champion, and Long is a soccer star. St. Catherine’s duo of Madison Jiranek and Menges are multiple sport standouts. Maggie Walker’s Lauren McCarey and Trinity Episcopal’s Addie Nash shine in field hockey, and Maiya Pencile of Matoaca set the Richmond Metro area’s soccer goal-scoring record.

For banquet ticket information, contact Faith Hecht at the Sports Backers, (804) 285-9495 ext. 243 or faith@sportsbackers.org.

The school nominees for Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be featured in a two-page presentation in The Times-Dispatch on June 3.

The Sports Backers’ new scholarships are the Cheryl L. Oliver Memorial Scholarship that will go to Samiya Jackson of Thomas Jefferson High and the Raymond D. Patterson Memorial Scholarship that will be presented to Christopher Jones Jr. of Petersburg High. Jackson and Jones are Scholar-Athlete of the Year representatives for their schools.

The scholarships honor the outreach contributions Oliver and Patterson made to Sports Backers.

HCAVa Sports Medicine will recognize Morgan Whitaker of Deep Run and Jeb Boswell of Lee-Davis as its comeback athletes of the year, and Williams Mullen will present the teams-of-the- year candidates at the banquet.

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