By Connie Leinbach
Ocracoke School junior Andrew Tillett has made Ocracoke history. Recently he received the “all-district” honor for his varsity basketball performance this year with the Ocracoke Dolphins.
The district is made up of Hyde, Dare, Tyrell, Perquimans, Washington and Hertford counties, and Andrew is the first in Ocracoke history to receive this honor, noted head basketball coach David Allewalt.
Andrew, a center, averages about 18 points per game and 15 rebounds, Allewalt said.“He has 800 career points and will probably end his high school career with 1,000 points,” Allewalt said. That would make Andrew the all-time leading scorer in Ocracoke basketball history, Allewalt continued. That’s not to take away from some of the students in the 1980s and ‘90s who are now in the Ocracoke Hall of Fame, who played about 15 games per season. In the last few years, the Ocracoke team has played about 22 games per season, creating the opportunity for athletes to score higher.
Andrew finished the 2013 year with 404 points. “That’s definitely the most I’ve scored in one season,” Andrew said in a recent interview about the team’s accomplishments, especially beating the number one team, Columbia, in the semi-finals of the Tideland Athletic Conference Tournament “We were able to beat them on their home turf,” Andrew said about the top-seeded team. “It was fun.” The Dolphins ultimately lost the tournament to number two seed Mattamuskeet. But every year prior to this, Ocracoke was eliminated in the first round.
This year’s varsity basketball team achievements have gained on all the previous years as they were tied for third overall in regular season play. “This is the first time the boys basketball team finished with more wins than losses, or an over 500 record,” Allewalt said. “They beat every team in the conference during the season and they got to their first-ever tournament conference final.” It’s the best they’ve ever done.
In addition to the All-District honor, Tillett has racked up more this season. He was named most valuable player of the Bethel Invitational tournament in December; he made the first team of the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament; he was named to the first team of the All-Tideland Athletic conference.
Allewalt has coached Andrew since his freshman year. “He has good instincts around the rim and he always wants to do better,” Allewalt says of his charge. “He’s really intelligent and absorbs things like a sponge.”
For his part, Andrew says he likes competition and the game of basketball. “I like competition,” Andrew says. “I don’t why, but I definitely can be competitive. I’m tall and lanky, and basketball is something I can excel at.” Tillett, who says his GPA is above 4.0 owing to his taking advanced placement courses, will attend the Governor’s School this summer at Meredith College in Raleigh, the only student going from Ocracoke School. Although he loves history, he will study natural science for the five weeks in Raleigh.
As for basketball, Andrew will keep his skills sharp this summer in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team that Allewalt got him into for a couple of tournaments. In between these activities, you can sometimes see Andrew working in his mom Leslie Lanier’s shop Books to be Red.
Other students on the team this year were Wyatt Norris, Walker Garrish, Dalton Kalna, Evan Caswell, Adam Carter, Casey Tolson and Kade Nagakane.