Boyd’s Wheeler is Miss Basketball
BY AARON SNYDER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Dressed in all red, Savannah Wheeler said her heart thumped and then stopped.
When Lions Club member Tom Matney announced the recipient of the annual Miss Basketball award, he uttered the words “Boyd County” before saying Wheeler’s name.
“I was a little bit nervous and my heart was pounding a little bit, but then they said, ‘Boyd County,’” Wheeler said.
Wheeler readily claimed Kentucky high school basketball’s most prestigious individual award. She became the second 16th Region player, joining West Carter’s Megen Gearhart (2003), to collect the hardware since the honor’s 1976 inception.
“Just incredibly blessed,” Wheeler said in a phone interview shortly following the ceremony. “I owe it all to God and give Him the credit. I just feel like my work is paying off. It’s just an incredible feeling.”
Wheeler chose “paying” instead of “paid” because her career isn’t over. The third-ranked Lady Lions will represent the 16th Region in the Sweet Sixteen next Thursday, March 14, when they face Male at 1:30 p.m. in Rupp Arena. It’s the third consecutive year that Boyd County won the region, but it’s the first time Wheeler and her teammates will grace the University of Kentucky’s hardwood.
“I didn’t even think about (Miss Basketball) until this morning,” Wheeler said on Tuesday. “What I’ve been working for is getting back to the state tournament. I’ve always wanted to play in Rupp Arena. It’s huge to play on that floor.”
A Marshall signee, Wheeler has amassed 3,593 career points, including 919 as a senior. She ranks sixth on the KHSAA’s all-time scoring list behind Whitney Creech (5,527), Jaime Walz (4,948), Geri Grigsby (4,385), Kim Mays (3,952) and Carolyn Alexander (3,726).
Wheeler, who puts in 29.6 points per game, could become the 16th player to average more than 30 points a game in a single season in the Bluegrass.
Thoughts of Miss Basketball entered Wheeler’s mind when she attended the event last March to accept a plaque for her 3-point prowess — she drained 108 long balls in 2017-18.
“It kinda got me motivated, ya know, maybe this could be me next year if I just work at it,” she said.
After guiding the Lady Lions to defeats of Dixie Heights, Mercer County, Ryle and Highlands in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic, Wheeler’s dream inched closer to reality, she thought.
“Great kid, very deserving,” Boyd County coach Pete Fraley told MyTownTV. “I’ve said it all year long, I have the best basketball player in the state. I feel like I was vindicated tonight. ... She’s been a joy to coach, just a great team player.”
Wheeler said she couldn’t have achieved this feat without ample support surrounding her, most prominently her family.
“They’ve always been there for me, AAU games and everything, they’ve sacrificed a lot for me,” Wheeler said. “I appreciate them.”
Wheeler helped lead Boyd County to a Sweet Sixteen semifinals showing a year ago. On Monday, she scored 24 points in the region-title-deciding victory over Russell before grabbing her third straight 16th Region Tournament MVP award. With Wheeler on the court, Boyd County is 24-0 against in-state competition this season.
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