When the Parkwood Rebels entered the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2A state tournament with a 22-2 record, Rocky River conference title and No. 5 seed to their name, they were the favorites to make a deep run in the playoffs. And after bruising Ashe County 62-28 in the first round, they didn’t appear to be going anywhere but further in the playoffs.
But what happened next was unexpected, as visiting No. 22 seed Thomasville upset the Rebels, 75-72, in triple overtime to advance to the third round of playoffs and end Parkwood’s hope of a state championship.
Despite the loss, 5-foot-11 senior forward Emry Tsitouris said she’d always remember this season and that particular game.
“What we had this season – you don’t get that every year,” she said. “The loss was devastating, but in a way it was bittersweet. A lot of great things happened on that court. It’s seen the best of games and the worst of games and I got to walk off the same court where it all started for me.”
Her high school career may be over, but she made it one to remember as one of the most accurate shooters and consistent rebounders in the county.
Tsitouris poured in a career-high 40 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and added three blocked shots in the last game of her Parkwood career. But performances like that were nothing unusual for the Rebel headliner. The three-time all-conference and all-region selection was named to the all-state team last season after averaging 19.2 points and 15.3 rebounds. She bested those impressive numbers this year, averaging 24.1 points and 15 rebounds en route to grabbing her 1,500th point and 1,000th rebound to become the 2014 Union County Weekly Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is that, even with her remarkable stats – she was the highest rebounder in the county and the second-highest scorer, missing the top spot by .2 points – Tsitouris could’ve amassed even bigger numbers if she weren’t so eager to share the ball with her teammates.
“For me, it’s all about the team,” she said. “We were fun and energetic and it was a great group of girls to play with. I’ve been really lucky to have the experiences that I’ve had here at Parkwood with this group. It’s been great and it was always a team effort.”
An all-around athlete – Tsitouris was a star on the volleyball court in the fall – she’s found another natural talent this season on the Rebels track and field team, competing in the shot put and discus. Tsitouris will take her basketball talent to USC-Aiken in the fall, opting to play at a Division-II school over several D-I schools which had made offers.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Aiken,” she said. “It’s just such a great fit for me. That team has a ton of potential and the coaching staff, players, everyone involved are all so dedicated and I think they recognize my potential. It’s going to be a higher level of competition and that’s what I’m ready for.”
With track season now in full swing and Key Club as well as National Honor Society taking up most of her free time, Tsitouris is ready for the next chapter in her
“I couldn’t have had a better experience at Parkwood,” she said. “There have been challenges every day, but I wouldn’t change anything. It’s crazy to think that it’s coming to an end now, but I’m starting to see the pages of the next chapter open up and that’s something to be excited about. I feel like I’m just getting