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Two from FC make North All-Star teams

The North-South All-Star Teams have been selected for the 2021 AHSAA North-South All-Star Sports Week, and some local talent is among those chosen.

Jamie Lee, director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association, announced the teams this past week.

Two local athletes and a coach were selected. Belgreen point guard Will Bonner will be on the North basketball team, and Russellville infielder Eli Gipson will be on the North baseball team. Phil Campbell girls basketball coach Craig Thomas will coach the North girls basketball all-stars. Thomas was set to coach the team this past year, but the games were canceled because of the COVID-19 virus.

The teams comprise rising seniors and were chosen by a special coaches committee from nominations received from AHSAA member school coaches.

Bonner led Belgreen to the Class 1A finals and a 26-3 record. He averaged 21 points per game and had 117 assists. He was a 78 percent free-throw shooter, and he surpassed the career 1,000-point mark early in the season.

Bonner was also named the Times Daily Class 1A-3A Area Player of the Year.

“Will Bonner has that rare ability to give his best when his best is needed,” said Coach Marty Cooper. “He always puts the team first.”

Bonner said being selected to represent the North is an honor.

“It has been a crazy and dysfunctional year, and I see this as a great blessing and honor,” said Bonner.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Bonner added. “They were unselfish with the ball compared to other opponents we faced, which is why we were so successful.

“My coaches have been instrumental in helping me be a better player and a better person.” Bonner said he welcomes the “opportunity to go against some of the best juniors in the state and show how I can compete with top-caliber opponents.”

Gipson is one of Russellville’s most reliable defensive players on the Golden Tiger baseball team. Gipson, who missed the first three weeks of the season with a fractured hand, had only made one error when his coach nominated him for the team.

“Eli is an elite defender at shortstop and makes incredible plays regularly and makes them look easy,” said Russellville Coach Chris Heaps. “He’s a very hard worker, has a great attitude and has a very high baseball IQ.”

At the plate Gipson has a .333 batting average and .450 on base percentage.

“This is an outstanding group standouts and coaches from our member schools,” said Lee.We are proud to announce these teams and look forward to watching them in the All-Star competition set for the All-Star Sports Week this summer, especially after last summer’s all-star competition was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus concerns.”

The AHSADCA, which operates under the auspices of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, also hosts annually North-South all-star games in volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, cross country, tennis and golf during the All-Star Week.

The AHSAA Summer Conference, annually attended by more than 4,000 coaches and administrators, will be July 19-23 this year.