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Sand Rock’s Henderson one of three area athletes prepping for All-Star Sports Week

Sand Rock’s Lanie Henderson, left, drives around Spring Garden’s Neely Welsh during a game last season. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

Sand Rock senior Lanie Henderson estimates she’s had maybe two weeks to herself this summer. The rest of the time she’s bounced around from court to court, all in an effort to become a better basketball player.

Henderson has been playing travel basketball with the Southern Stars this summer. She’s been on recent trips to Iowa and Kentucky, where she played in 11 games in the past week. Coming up, she’ll be playing basketball with her travel team in New Orleans.

“It’s been very busy. I’m definitely always somewhere,” Henderson said of her summer tour.

There’s another stop along Henderson’s basketball path before she travels to The Big Easy – a little something called the Alabama High School Athletic Association North-South All-Star Girls Basketball Game. The game is set for this Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Montgomery Multiplex at the Cramton Bowl.

“I’m very excited,” Henderson said. “I’m so blessed to be able to play with all the other athletes who are going to be in it.”

Henderson is one of three area athletes chosen for All-Star Sports Week. Cedar Bluff golfer Mark Sawyer will compete for the North golf squad on Monday at 10 a.m. at Arrowhead Country Club. Later that evening, Piedmont baseball player Austin Estes will represent the North Baseball All-Stars at Riverwalk Stadium at 4 p.m.

Admission is $5 per event.

Henderson, an all-state shooting guard, averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 assists for the Lady Wildcats (16-13) last season. She becomes the third Sand Rock girls basketball player Bates has coached who has been chosen for the honor. Taylor Burt and Kirby DeBoard played in the event in 2005 and 2018 respectively.

“(Coach Bates) called me (back in the spring) and was like ‘Oh my goodness, Lanie, you’re on the North-South team.’ We freaked out on the phone a little bit,” Henderson said. “She told me I was the third of her (basketball) athletes, so that was very shocking.”

Just like Henderson, Bates finds it hard to contain her excitement too.

“It’s really difficult to get a player (on the North-South All-Star teams), especially at the 2A level,” Bates said. “She’s worked to earn that. She’s really worked hard on her own in the offseason in basketball. She’s really challenging herself, playing some high level basketball. She works on her shot. She’s worked on driving to the goal. She’s developing her game into something more. We’re really proud for Sand Rock to have a girl on the team and for her to go represent us. I think she’ll do well.”

Henderson isn’t going into Tuesday’s all-star girls basketball game blindly. Two of her North squad teammates (Mortimer Jordan’s Bellah Machen and Winfield’s Emma Kate Tittle) play with her on the Southern Stars travel ball team.

Another Southern Stars teammate, Prattville Christian’s Ella Jane Connell, will suit up for the South All-Stars.

“That helps,” Bates said. “In the past when we’ve had girls make it, they don’t know anyone going into it, unless they’ve played against them. She’s playing with some girls she knows and that she’s comfortable with.”

Win or lose, Henderson just wants to come out of Tuesday’s all-star contest – and the summer – a “more well-rounded player.”

“I’ve been shooting a lot in the gym and playing in a lot of tournaments against better competition,” she said. “Even the play dates we’ve had at school, I think we’re really clicking. I’m expecting great things this season.”

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