Russellville trio to take basketball skills to the collegiate level

Russellville’s varsity basketball programs have come a long way in the past few seasons.

The boys team reached the state finals two years ago and returned to the sub-regional round of the playoffs in 2009 and 2010.

The girls team put together one of the best seasons in school history this year by reaching the Northwest Regional Tournament finals.

Three of the key players in those runs were rewarded with college scholarships Monday.

Terence Smith signed with the University of Tennessee-Martin and Nate Dunstan signed with Northwest Shoals Community College.

Erin Reynolds signed with the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

“That’s a big step (for the program,” boys coach Michael Smith said. “It shows how far we’ve come from having zero players sign to having at least one sign for a few years in a row.”

James Bostick, the girls coach was happy with Reynolds’ accomplishment. “She’s worked hard since the seventh grade,” Bostick said. “Now the work is paying off. She is a good athlete and a good person.”

Terence Smith said he chose UT-Martin because he felt comfortable on his visit and that the environment was great.

“I felt I fit in with the coaches and players,” he said.

Dunstan said he is glad to continue his playing career because he likes playing basketball and this will be an opportunity for him to become a better player. He has only one regret about his career at Russellville.

“I wish we could have gone back to state,” Dunstan said.

Michael Smith said both players would be missed next season. He said Dunstan’s size was an asset for the Golden Tigers and Smith’s versatility will be difficult to replace.

“(Nate) could alter shots on defense by his presence on the court,” Michael Smith said. “With Terence I will have to fill a lot of voids. He was the leader in a lot of categories and led the team in rebounding the last four years.”

Reynolds was moved by the experience and felt grateful for the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since I walked in,” she said.

She chose UAH not only for its basketball program, but also for its chemistry department.

She helped bring the Lady Golden Tigers from the bottom of the area to a state title contender. Reynolds said she feels she is leaving the program in good shape.

“They can at least meet what we did this year, if not top it,” Reynolds said. “I think they can do well without me next year.”