Fall Guy: MB’s Keane wins Mammy’s Athlete of Season

The first-ever Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Season award reminded me of a humbling experience from my own sports career.

As a small, speedy (I know, hard to believe now) point guard who often felt he could dribble through defenses rather than pass around them, my not-so small and speedy coach challenged me to a race during practice.

The first one to dribble down court and touch the wall was the winner. I confidently took the bet and built a big lead at the whistle. To my surprise, my coach gave me a head start then threw a baseball pass the length of the court passed me and off the wall for the victory.

His point: It’s a lot faster to pass the ball than it is to dribble it. We saw a contrast in those styles in this week’s voting.

The pack of eight quickly saw North Myrtle Beach runner Benjamin Jenerette sprint to the front, but Myrtle Beach quarterback Tyler Keane zipped a long bomb so far ahead of the field that no one could catch him, much the way he did for the Seahawks all season.

Keane drew more than half of the 50,000 votes, proving what the founders of Grand Strand Sports Report suspected when we launched the site in September – there is a lot more interest in local high school sports than coverage, and we’re trying to even the score.

In its highly successful first season, the award saw more than 150,000 votes cast, and our winner knows a thing or two about big numbers.

While splitting snaps with fellow junior QB C.J. Cooper, Keane completed 104 of 169 passes for 1,442 yards and 24 touchdowns to only three interceptions. The southpaw saw the Seahawks’ season end in the Lower State semifinals against Bluffton, but he will be back in ’12.

So will Jenerette, who dominated the local girls cross country scene by winning the Horry County Championships and the Region VIII title in a five-day span. She went on to finish fifth in the state and will return next season to shoot for her ultimate goal of a state championship.

The Fall Sports Athlete of the Season turned out to be a two-horse sprint instead of a marathon, and Keane blew past Jenerette in the end.

And now we can look forward to more exciting finishes now that Mammy’s Kitchen has agreed to sponsor all the sports seasons this year.

Owner Mike Lambert, who played collegiate soccer at Winthrop University and is an avid fan of local sports, is happy to sponsor the award.

“We know how much hard work goes into playing high school sports, and anything we can do to help recognize those student-athletes for their efforts is something we are proud to do,” Lambert said.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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