High School Sports

7 Stallions overcame it all — including rare disease — to reach signing ceremony

Signing ceremony caps off great senior year for South Pointe’s Scarlett Gilmore

South Pointe girls’ basketball standout Scarlett Gilmore signed an NLI April 24, 2019 to play college basketball at Francis Marion. She talked about her eventful senior year.
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South Pointe girls’ basketball standout Scarlett Gilmore signed an NLI April 24, 2019 to play college basketball at Francis Marion. She talked about her eventful senior year.

Each of the seven South Pointe Stallions had to traverse various levels of difficulty to Wednesday’s college sports signing day in the school’s gym. But Ally Ferguson had a little more difficulty than anyone else.

When she was in eighth grade, Ferguson’s painful and very rare stomach ailment, which caused her to vomit constantly, was finally pinpointed: median arcuate ligament syndrome. Essentially, Ferguson’s celiac artery and arcuate ligament -- located just below her chest -- were overlapped. There were no experts on the condition based in the Carolinas, which meant trips to Texas and Virginia to seek a solution. Finally, a serious surgical procedure opened up her abdomen and pulled the two passageways back to where they were supposed to be situated.

Ferguson had lost so much weight that she was below 100 pounds. But she gradually rebuilt her strength. This school year, she competed on South Pointe’s varsity cheerleading squad and was good enough to earn the attentions of Limestone College. Only a junior, Ferguson decided to graduate high school early and take Limestone’s offer.

“It feels like a really big accomplishment, just because of what I went through and overcame,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson plans to study either psychology or sociology at Limestone. She has a 3.7 grade point average.

Shelby Gipson

Gipson is headed to Converse College to play softball, which is not a huge surprise considering she’s communicated with the school’s coach for about four years.

“I toured the campus and I fell in love with it,” said Gipson. “I just knew that’s where I wanted to end up.”

Gipson will study biology with a long-term plan of entering a pre-medicine program. On the softball diamond, she’ll play either second or third base. Gipson was thrilled to commit her future to Converse on Wednesday, but she was struck by how fast the signing ceremony actually transpired.

“It went by in a blink of an eye,” she said. “It was nice to have people to support and stand there and watch it all happen and have your back.”

Isaac Ross

Ross, a football standout for the Stallions, will play college pigskin at Charleston Southern.

“I love the campus, nice area, coaches, real nice, and it just felt like the right place,” said Ross.

Ross wants to major in business and potentially minor in communications. He has a 3.9 GPA, and said it felt like a family vibe when he talked to Charleston Southern’s new head football coach, Autry Denson, who was hired from Notre Dame. Ross was relieved to be locked in at CSU.

“I didn’t know where I was gonna go, really,” he said. “This is a blessing. Now I can just go to the next level and do what I want to do.”

Matthew Howle

Howle juggled a job, cross country and academic excellence to earn a spot on Francis Marion’s cross country team. Howle had the South Pointe cross country team’s high GPA each of the last two years. He’s currently sitting on a 4.7.

“Honestly, it was just hard work, dedication, I knew they would be there for me if I ever needed anything. It’s getting those people that you can lean on, my parents, my siblings, just everyone, even teammates,” said Howle.

Howle plans on majoring in nursing. He visited bigger schools like Clemson and South Carolina, but just felt like a number.

“When I went to Fracnis Marion, their coach brought me in, I had lunch with the teammates and it just felt more like home than it did at Clemson, or any other school,” he said.

Scarlett Gilmore

Gilmore is also headed to Francis Marion, to play basketball. She had a big senior year, becoming South Pointe’s first girl hooper to score 1,000 career points and helping this year’s team to best season in school history. Gilmore was a central part of their run to the 4A state final.

“A lot of people doubted us at the beginning,” she said, referring to her team. “So the fact that we overcame a lot this season, meant a lot to me personally. It’s finally here, what I’ve worked for.”

Gilmore played pickup basketball with Francis Marion players during her visit. After some initial jitters, the game, the level of play, felt normal.

“It just answered it for me, really,” she said.

Gilmore wants to study biology with the goal of entering the orthodontics field. She has a 3.99 GPA, which she suggested to just go ahead and round up to a 4.0.

Sierra McCullough

McCullough thought her college basketball future was wrapped up last fall when she committed to East Carolina. But ECU’s coach left shortly after, leaving McCullough in the lurch. She decided to put her thinking on the subject to the side and focused on having a great senior season, which she did. The 6-foot-2 senior center, who moved to South Pointe this year from Alabama, was a key part on the Stallions’ state finals team.

And her college situation took care of itself. She came down to Radford and Charlotte and opted for the latter.

“ I never imagined going to UNC Charlotte,” said McCullough, who has a 3.75 GPA. “I liked the vibe on campus, the coaches were really amazing, so it was a great choice.”

Karina Petrovich

It was either Winthrop or Erskine for Petrovich, a South Pointe volleyball standout, and she opted for Erskine thanks to a little nudge from her mom and brother. Both went to the school, located in Due West, S.C.

“It’s really nice and peaceful there,” Petrovich said.

Petrovich is thinking about studying business at Erskine, but still deciding. She’s an international baccalaureate student at South Pointe, and thrilled to play the sport she loves in college. Getting to play college volleyball was a bit of a surprise to Petrovich, as was the recruiting process.

“It was pretty smooth and easy,” she said, smiling.

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