As usual, Zach Ferguson finishes strong
by Andrew Stark
The Butler boys basketball team lost five of its top seven scorers from a season ago and was expected to experience a down year. The Bulldogs battled inconsistency but rallied to finish tied for second place in the Southwestern 4A conference and won the league tournament title for the third consecutive season.
First-year coach Donald Kirby gives much of the credit for the strong season to 6-foot-4 senior forward Zach Ferguson, and opposing coaches agreed.
“He is an absolute animal out there,” East Mecklenburg coach Jason Grube said. “(He is) all over the court. He flies around and gets to every ball, can rebound and block shots. He is a beast.”
Ferguson averaged 20.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.4 assists and was a tenacious defender capable of guarding all five positions.
As a result, he’s the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011-12 Southern Mecklenburg Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Ferguson, who’ll play basketball and football at Lenoir-Rhyne, said winning another tournament championship was the highlight of the season.
“This year we kind of had a chip on our shoulder trying to get that three-peat,” Ferguson said. “We went out there and did it, no matter what the cost.”
Butler fell in the opening round of the state playoffs, but Ferguson poured in 29 points in his final game.
“I thought that I had a good year and am proud of how we played as a team,” Ferguson said. “I leave it all on the floor. I am a slasher who can get to the hole, but I think I surprised a lot of people with my shot.
“I think I had a decent basketball career. A lot of people just assumed that I was just a football player, but I think I did a pretty good job proving them wrong.”