Photo: Hokes Bluff High School senior Kileigh Blackwell signed a basketball scholarship with Snead State on March 11. Pictured, sitting, from left: mom Andria, Kileigh, dad Keith. Standing, from left: HBHS assistant principal and girls assistant basketball coach Rush Rutledge, Snead State assistant womens basketball coach Daryl Douthard, Snead State head womens basketball coach Tonya Bogle, HBHS girls basketball coach Evan Talbot. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Kileigh Blackwell’s academic and athletic futures received a two-pronged shot in the arm last week.
On March 7, the Hokes Bluff High School senior was notified that she was the Class 3A Region 6 winner of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s prestigious Bryant-Jordan Scholar/Athlete award.
On March 11, the Hokes Bluff High School senior signed a basketball scholarship with Snead State.
“It was unexpected, for sure,” said Blackwell, who plans on majoring on psychology with the goal of becoming a physician. “It’s been always softball for me until these last couple of years, when it turned to basketball. It really felt like a community [at Snead State], and it’s so close to home. I’m also glad that I’ll get to play for someone like [Snead State women’s basketball] coach [Tonya] Bogle.”
Bogle retired in 2017 after 32 years as the girls basketball coach at Gaston High, where she won eight Etowah County Schools championships, made 13 Northeast Regional appearances and six trips to the Final Four. She led the 1987-1988 Lady Bulldogs to the Class 2A state championship and notched her 500th career win in 2013.
Bogle was scouting another player at the county basketball tournament in January when Blackwell attracted her attention. Bogle offered Blackwell a scholarship shortly thereafter.
“We’re excited about having Kiliegh come play for us,” said Bogle. “She’s going to be a real asset. We’re trying to rebuild our program, and Kileigh’s exactly what we’re looking for right now – great students who can also contribute athletically. Kileigh’s a great kid who comes from a great family, and we’re looking forward to having her.”
The 2021-22 Lady Parsons finished 11-17 overall and 9-8 in Alabama Community College Conference action.
Blackwell was not expecting a call from the Bryant-Jordan Foundation committee.
“I was so happy just to get nominated, and I really didn’t know if I was going to make it as far as I did. It’s feels really great to succeed in the academic side of sports.”
Blackwell was named to the All-Messenger girls basketball first team for this past season after averaging 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Lady Eagles. She was also a first-team section on the 2020-21 Al-Messenger team and the Class 3A, All-Area 12 team after helping the Lady Eagles win their first county championship in four years. She is a team captain for basketball and softball teams this season.
“Kileigh has been a real bright spot for us the past two years, and we’re excited that she’ll get to continue at the next level,” said Hokes Bluff girls basketball coach Evan Talbot. “She’s an extremely hard worker. The was way she plays in a game is the way she practices every day. She’s full-out in every drill.”
Talbot sees Blackwell making an impact sooner than later at the junior college level.
“Kileigh’s really a guard in a post player’s body. You can’t put a [center] on her because she’ll draw them away from the basket. If you put a guard on her, she’ll post her up. She can bring the ball up and break the press and g up and get a rebound. Snead is also getting someone who is very team-oriented; whatever you need her to do, she’ll do it.”
Blackwell’s Bryant-Jordan award credentials include a 4.39 grade point average and an ACT Super Score of 28. She currently is ranked fourth out of her senior class of 92. She was named to the school’s ‘A’ honor rolls since her freshman year. She serves as president of the school’s FBLA chapter and is a member of the school’s Beta Club, Key Club, Leo Club and Peer Helpers. She was a volunteer for local election polls, the Special Olympics, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Salvation Army and summer youth basketball camp.
Talbot was not surprised that Blackwell was named a Bryant-Jordan region winner.
“Kileigh’s a high-goal person who wants to be a doctor. You talk to her teachers and they’ll tell you that Kileigh works just as hard in the classroom as on the court and on the field. It’s quite an honor, and Kileigh is very deserving.”