CHERRYVILLE – Terry Whisnant, Jr., one of the top scorers in North Carolina high school basketball history, and Thomas Bess, a three-sport standout, are among 11 individuals named to the Cherryville Sports Hall of Fame 2021 induction class.
The hall of fame committee voted in the new inductees at a recent meeting, making its choices from a field of 26 individual nominees along with three teams.
One team was chosen for induction – the 1985 Cherryville High boys basketball squad that won the N.C. 2A championship under the direction of the late David Watkins. The state title teams in baseball from 1980 and 1982 were also nominated.
The organization, which has been inactive for more than a decade, met in March to regroup, elect officers, and set a new agenda. The Cherryville Sports Hall of Fame has not inducted any new members since 2005.
Two inductees, recreation and youth sports activist Skeet Brackett, and Larry Boyles, an acclaimed amateur boxer in the 1950s and a member of the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame, will be honored posthumously.
Another new member, former two-sport athlete Kenneth Harris, who played football at the University of Georgia, will be enshrined in 2022. His induction is postponed due to travel considerations.
Cherryville boys basketball coach Scott Harrill earned a spot in the hall of fame in the same year in which he became Gaston County’s career leader in coaching victories. Harrill’s career record at Cherryville stands at 384-170.
Also named are former women’s basketball players Ebonee Johnson, Abbey Owens and Sonya Hoyle, along with Cameron Lovelace, a two-sport star in football and basketball, and Trentavious Friday, a track star who holds three state records and a national record in sprint events.
The committee set the date of the 2021 banquet for October 2 at the First Baptist Church Life Center.
The guest speaker will be Duke basketball legend and former NBA player Gene Banks, who earlier this spring was named athletics director at Gaston College. The college is in the process of reviving a sports program that has been dormant since the 1970s.
In accepting the speaking engagement, Banks said via email, “I am honored to have been asked to speak. We will make it a day to remember and a day of bonding and partnership with the lovely City of Cherryville and Gaston College. When I speak, I like to involve and get everyone engaged.”
Banks, who will oversee start-up programs in men’s basketball, baseball, women’s softball, beach volleyball, and EA sports in 2021-22, has a connection to Cherryville through the late Max Crowder, a Cherryville native who served as trainer for men’s basketball during Banks’s time at Duke.