PREP BASKETBALL: Cold Springs’ West signs with Shelton State

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Cold Springs’ Toni West signs an athletic scholarship to Shelton State at Cold Springs High School Monday. Bottom L-R: Bailey West, Tammy West, Toni West, Patrick West. Top L-R; Eric Dickerson, Madonna Thompson. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

BREMEN, Ala. – Monday was a special day inside Cold Springs High School’s Jesse George Gymnasium as longtime Lady Eagles standout Toni West signed the dotted line on an athletic scholarship to continue her basketball career at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa. West racked up over 1,500 points in her prep career, helped lead the Lady Eagles to a state title in 2019 and a state runner-up finish in 2020, earned 2A First Team All-State honors in her senior season and received this year’s Bill Shelton Award.

Cold Springs High School Principal Eric Dickerson was the first to speak and congratulated Toni on her phenomenal high school career and wished her luck going forward.

“It’s always such a pleasure to see our students continue chasing their passions after high school and Toni has worked very hard for this day. I have no doubt that she’ll have success along the way as long as you keep a javelin out of her hand,” Dickerson joked. “She’s been a great student, a great athlete, not just in basketball but across the board and it’s been a pleasure to have her here and we wish her well going forward.”

Cold Springs Head Coach and Toni’s mother Tammy West was the next to speak and after thanking everyone in attendance for joining to celebrate Toni’s accomplishment, she took a few moments to touch on Toni’s time at Cold Springs and the people that helped make it so special.

“I’m usually speaking on behalf of a player but today I get to speak on her as both my player and daughter. Toni is a very hard worker, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had. She’s self-driven, motivated and has always said she wanted to play at the next level. She’s worked extremely hard to achieve that goal, but we know that couldn’t have happened without all the people Toni has been blessed with. You’re only as good as the people who surround you and she has been blessed that her teammates are her best friends,” West said. “They’re not just her teammates or her friends, they are her best friends and they have supported her. We have had the best group of girls come through here and seven of you are going to be graduating but you are loved so much, and we appreciate everything you have done in your support of Toni.”

The gym was packed with current and future Lady Eagles there to celebrate with the Toni and Tammy hopes that today’s event will show more young athletes in the community that they can achieve their goals if they work for them.

“Just look up there right now, we’ve got all these young girls on our JV team and they’re in here watching Toni and I know they have to be sitting there thinking ‘Hey I’d like for this to be me one day’ and they can achieve that here at Cold Springs. We’ve had so many girls sign scholarships in the past and they’ve seen how hard Toni has worked so they know they’re going to have to work hard and if they do, they’ll have an opportunity to do something like this as well.”

Longtime Shelton State Head Coach Madonna Thompson was in attendance for West’s signing and is excited to add Toni to her roster as she and the Bucs look to take another step towards a national title.

“Obviously I’m extremely excited anytime we get the opportunity to bring such a great person and a great player into our program. Toni is the type that I know is going to come in and take care of her business and do everything she’s asked to do and help continue our tradition,” Thompson said. “I thought our guard play was a little bit weak this year and I wanted to get better and the two things I was looking for was a shooter and brains. I wanted someone who knows what’s supposed to be happening on the floor and can communicate that to the other kids but also someone who can just flat-out shoot a basketball and I know Toni is going to meet those expectations.”

Toni and her family enjoyed their visit to Shelton State and are looking forward to joining the program not only because of the Bucs’ success on the court, but because of the family atmosphere they found there as well.

“I just liked the way (Thompson) really cares about everybody and cares about what they’re doing after Shelton too and not just while they’re playing there,” West said. “It really kind of felt like Cold Springs and felt like a family and everyone was close there and they’re just an elite junior college team so I’m excited.”

Toni has enjoyed a stellar high school career at Cold Springs and has built many relationships within the community and now she’s looking forward to doing the same thing in May when she arrives at Shelton State to begin classes and start training for her first season with the Bucs.

“Obviously what I’m going to miss the most is moving away from my friends, family and teammates because playing here has been awesome and I had an awesome career but I’m looking forward to seeing where the future takes me and maybe even playing at the next level after Shelton in a couple years.”

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