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Guiding light: D-B's Whitson NET's top female athlete

By Douglas Fritz • Jun 1, 2019 at 2:00 AM

When Courtney Whitson walked into Dobyns-Bennett, two athletic programs significantly changed.

The senior, who helped boost the Lady Indians’ basketball and volleyball teams to state-level success, was honored Friday as the Times News/Johnson City Press Female Athlete of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

Science Hill running sensation Jenna Hutchins was also considered for the honor.

In volleyball, the Lady Indians got within one win of playing for a TSSAA Class AAA title. In basketball, D-B got within one win of reaching the state tournament.

Whitson was chosen not only for her athletic prowess and impressive results in the classroom, but also for her attitude — even through adversity — that set an example for teammates, competitors and peers alike. She overcame a serious ankle injury before her junior year but came back for a shining senior season.

She told the Press and Times News back in November, “Definitely my faith is one of the biggest things I stand on. I tell my teammates all the time it’s so much bigger than basketball.”

Whitson’s greatest athletic success came on the basketball court. She began building her resume during her freshman season, and it culminated in April when she signed to play at the Division I level with Middle Tennessee State.

A McDonald's All-American nominee, Whitson finished as the Lady Indians’ all-time leading scorer (2,456 points) and rebounder (1,476). She also holds the school’s season records for 3-point field goals made (73), total points (836), rebounds (389), single-game rebounds (22) and free-throw percentage (.780). This season she averaged 23.2 points and 10 rebounds per game.

D-B reached the District 1-AAA and Region 1-AAA championship games, each time losing to Science Hill. In the Class AAA sectional, the Lady Indians were forced to travel to Oak Ridge and came up on the short end of a 59-42 decision. Whitson had 25 points in that game.

In volleyball season, the Lady Indians lost to eventual champion Brentwood in the opening round of the state tournament. They bounced back to defeat Station Camp, Cookeville and Houston before taking a tough five-set loss to Siegel in the losers’ bracket final.

Basketball coach Bill Francis said Whitson made a major impact for the Lady Indians, not just with points and rebounds but also with the positive culture she helped create.

“She leads by example on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” Francis said during basketball season. “She epitomizes how we want our players to represent our program, school and community.”

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