McClanahan's sports feature on Tyler Wright honored
Sam McClanahan is in his 13th year covering sports for Pendleton County and has written many stories on the exploits of the Cats. In 2018, alone he has been dedicated to covering the meteoric rise of Dontaie Allen through his courage of overcoming a devastating injury. He has covered sports teams in golf, basketball and fast pitch.
Sam’s feature on Tyler Wright starting and scoring his first varsity points for the Wildcats on Senior Night was chosen as one of the best sports feature stories in the state. It received a third place finish for the feel-good story.
Here is Sam's award-winning story:
With nine seniors on the roster and only five starting spots, it can be difficult to figure out who will get those starting spots for Senior Night. For Wildcat Basketball Head Coach Keaton Belcher, one spot was easy to choose.
Senior Tyler Wright has been a key member of the Wildcat team through his support, positive attitude and joy of being around the basketball team.
“It was exciting to see Tyler score the first basket of the game. He deserved this night. I am super proud of him,” said Coach Belcher. “He is just as important to our basketball program as the players are. He’s a special kid.”
But it took some talking by his teammates to convince him to do it.
“When coach asked me if I wanted to play on Senior night, I at first said no,” admitted Wright who said he did not want the attention taken off his teammates.
“They had worked so hard and they deserved for the night to be just about them,” said the senior who is looking to attend Northern Ky. University next year.
But his teammates were unrelenting and convinced the 4.0 student to do it.
Taking the court in warm-ups brought back his middle school playing days and calmed his nerves. “I wasn’t really nervous at all during warm-ups but after the ovation that I was given in the starting line-up and I became very nervous.”
He chalked up the two missed shots to the nerves but it also helped pad his shots with 2 points and 2 rebounds.
“In the end, I’m so glad I agreed. The moment for me was incredible. To see how happy the crowd and my teammates were for me, made it great. They’re all like brothers to me and it’s going to be an adjustment after we all move on from high school because for the past four years, we have spent most of our time together.”