Prep Insider Blog

Jay Edwards’ Featured Athletes: friendship brings Butler High coaches together

Longtime friends and high school basketball coaches Kurt Wessler, Myron Lowery and Ty Baumgardner
Longtime friends and high school basketball coaches Kurt Wessler, Myron Lowery and Ty Baumgardner Special to the Observer



For 14 seasons, Myron Lowery and Kurt Wessler went head-to-head on the basketball court as Mecklenburg County coaching rivals.

Lowery was the head coach at Harding (1996-2003) then Providence (2003-2013) and now Butler (2014-present).

Wessler got his first head coaching job at Vance (1997-2004) and then moved onto Butler (2004-2011), before stepping down to spend more time with his children.

Wessler coached his daughter, Gianna, on both the Crestdale Middle School girls’ basketball (2015-16) and the Butler girls’ softball (2017-18) teams. Meanwhile, he coached his son Patrick on the Crestdale Middle School boys’ basketball team (2017-18).

Lowery and Wessler played 30 times in that same 14-year span (1997 to 2011) with Wessler winning 17 games, while Lowery won 13. The matchup between Lowery and Wessler’s teams was always intense with 11 of their games decided by five points or less, including two overtime games.

But after all those years of trying to beat each others’ teams, Wessler officially decided to become Lowery’s assistant coach at Butler Nov. 1.

Lowery and Wessler had been talking about the possibility of joining forces for the last four years as Wessler has served as a Butler teacher (American History I and A.P. World History) since he came to the school in 2004.

“Butler (High) is a super special place with a lot great teachers, coaches and great students, I have always loved the atmosphere and culture at Butler,” said Wessler, whose daughter (now a junior) and son (now a freshman) both attend Butler. “…Butler also has a great basketball coach (Lowery) who has always left an open door for me to come to practices, run drills or just sit down and talk basketball.

“…To officially be back coaching at Butler is unique. But I love my role as an assistant coach.…Not having to coach against, not having to game plan against Myron Lowery is fantastic. Now, watching him game plan for an opponent in unbelievable.”

“I had been working on getting Coach Wessler to be assistant ever since I got here four years ago,” Lowery said with a laugh. “…About a month ago, after we had been coaching Butler together for a few weeks I sent him (Wessler) a text that said, “I sure do enjoy coaching with you more than I did coaching against you.’”

Lowery and Wessler have Butler off to a 7-1 start/

While Butler does have four seniors in Raquan Brown (21 ppg), Rajuan Connor (16 ppg), Brayden Dixon (12 ppg) and Christian Peters (3 ppg), the Bulldogs also have three sophomores in Jordan McPhatter, Moses Payne, Christian Rudisell and one freshman in Patrick Wessler in the rotation.

Both Lowery and Wessler like to play an uptempo game with constant full-court pressure on their opponents on both sides of the floor.

“We both want to play a fast pace on both sides of the court and press a lot,” Lowery said. “We also have similar personalities, pretty laid back off the court, but can be fiery on the court in practice or in a game.

“…This year definitely has been a whole new process with a younger team. I don’t we’ve played nearly as good as we could have, we have a lot of room to improve. But it’s always fun as a coach to take something and try to develop it.”

While Lowery and Wessler are focused on the current Butler team’s success, they have also worked together with Butler assistant Pat King (also) to honor the Bulldogs’ basketball tradition for the 21 years in school history (Butler opened 1997).

ButlerHistoryWall1.JPG
Myron Lowery Special to the Observer

The walls in the hallway that lead to the Butler basketball coaches’ office are covered with names from Butler basketball history, from the 30-plus players that have gone on to play college basketball to list of conference champions, conference players of the year and more. Lowery, Wessler and King did most of the work on the hallway themselves this fall.

“The (Butler history wall) is a great thing, an incredible thing, because you want to recognize the history and the prestige of a program like this (Butler),” Wessler said. “We’ve gotten great feedback from many players across the board. I think we’re all very proud of what Butler basketball has been able to accomplish in 21 years.”

While Lowery and Wessler look to write their own chapter of Butler history, it’s only fitting that Wessler was one of the main reasons Lowery got the Bulldogs’ head coaching position in 2014.

“I remember it like it was yesterday when I was an Olympic assistant (2014), Wessler called me and said ‘I know who the best guy for the Butler job is,’” Lowery said. “‘I said what are you applying for job, Kurt?’

He said, ‘You are the best person for the job, Myron.’”

The rest of the story is history.

Tristan Maxwell, North Mecklenburg Basketball: The North Mecklenburg junior guard poured in 30 points in the Vikings’ 91-57 win over Mooresville in the I-Meck 4A conference season opener for both teams, Dec. 14.

Maxwell, a major Division I recruit according to North Mecklenburg coach Duane Lewis, is averaging 24.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game this season.

Maxwell is the son of former NBA great Vernon Maxwell.

Jacobi Wright, Fort Mill Basketball: The Fort Mill sophomore point guard had a career-high 40 points, adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals in an 81-45 win at Chester Dec. 12.

Wright came back two nights later with 29 points in an 84-57 win over Indian Land.

Wright has helped Fort Mill (8-1) to eight straight victories after a season-opening 64-61 loss at Marvin Ridge, Nov. 20.

Wright is averaging 25.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.5 steals per game this season.

Jaylen Steele, Christ the King Basketball: The Christ the King junior guard continues to play big for the Crusaders (7-2), who have already won more games than they did a year ago (5-21).

Steele averaged 25 points and six rebounds in three wins last week.

Steele’s best game of the week came in a 75-71 win over the Greater Cabarrus Stallions, where he posted 26 points, six rebounds and four steals in the win, Dec. 11.

Steele is averaging 22 points, five rebounds and four steals per game this season.

Jackson Gabriel, Lincoln Charter Basketball: The Lincoln Charter senior guard had another big week, averaging 21 points and six rebounds to help the Eagles (8-1) to two more victories.

Gabriel had 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a 104-73 win over Elevation Prep, Dec. 12.

Three days later, Gabriel had 18 points and five rebounds in just one half of play to help Lincoln Charter beat Cherokee, 71-52.

Gabriel is averaging 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals per game for the Eagles this season.

Cyncier Harrison, Providence Day Basketball: The Providence Day sophomore point guard averaged 21 points, five rebounds and six assists in wins over Metrolina Christian and York Prep.

Harrison had his best game of the week with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 60-53 win at York Prep, Dec. 14.

Harrison is averaging 17.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and four assists for the Chargers (7-5) this season.

Hayden Wyke, Hibriten Wrestling: The Hibriten senior just finished playing football (fullback/linebacker) as the Panthers (14-1) season ended with a 2AA West Regional final loss to Shelby, Dec. 7.

After just one day of wrestling because of the snow, Wyke went 8-0 with seven pins to win the Red Devil Super Duals’ 160-pound title, Dec. 14-15.

Wyke only had two matchups go past the first period in the tournament.

Tripp Collins, Piedmont Wrestling: The Piedmont sophomore won 113-pound title at the Tigerland Classic at Fred T. Foard last weekend (Dec. 14-15) to improve his record to 20-1.

Collins was named the Tigerland Classic’s most outstanding wrestler for his efforts, beating a defending 2A state champion and 4A state runner-up on the way in the tournament.

Josh Nichols, Newton Conover Wrestling: The Newton Conover junior was 10-0 last weekend to win 170-pound title at the Red Devil Super Duals (at Newton Conover), Dec. 14-15.

Nichols is 33-2 so far this season.

Royal Burris, Harding Track: The Harding senior finished 2nd in the 55-meter dash at the N.C. Runners’ Holiday Invitational, Dec. 15, running a 6.45, the second-fastest time in the state and No. 7 fastest time in the nation this indoor season, according to milesplit.com.

Burris also received a special invite to compete in a 60-meter event at the Mondo High School Elite Invitational, Jan. 25-26, at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

Jack Walker, Myers Park Swimming: The Myers Park senior won all four events he swam in to help the Mustangs’ boys’ team beat Hough (171 to 112) at West Charlotte, Dec. 12.

Walker, a University of Virginia commit, won the 200 and 500 freestyle individually, while leading the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays to victories with teammates Spencer Freeman, Benjamin Hager and Hugh Svendsen.

Baylor Nelson, Community School of Davidson Swimming: The Community School of Davidson freshman broke three school records in the pool last week.

Nelson set a new school records in 200 individual medley (1:58.67), 100 butterfly (53.95) and on his 50-freestyle cut (22.16) of the 200 freestyle relay.

Charlotte Observer Girls’ Featured Athletes

Taylor Henderson, Myers Park Basketball: The Myers Park girls’ basketball team was 0-5 going into last week. But the Mustangs’ sophomore guard had three double-doubles last week, averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals per game in three straight victories.

Henderson had her best game of the week with 24 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in a 58-51 win over South Mecklenburg, Dec. 11.

Henderson is averaging 14.7 points, eight rebounds, 3 assists and 4.3 steals per game for Myers Park (3-5) this season.

Kaitlin Walker, Charlotte Christian Basketball: The Charlotte Christian senior forward had a game to remember with 31 points, 20 rebounds and six steals to lead the Knights to a 63-59 win over Carmel Christian, Dec. 11.

Walker is averaging 17.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and three steals per game this season for Charlotte Christian (5-5).

Jessica Timmons, North Mecklenburg Basketball: The North Mecklenburg sophomore guard had another big game with 21 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals to lead the Vikings to a 60-40 over Mooresville in the I-Meck 4A conference opener for both teams.

Timmons, who is being recruited by schools from the ACC, Big 10, Conference USA, and SEC according to North Mecklenburg coach, Jennifer Baker, is averaging 25.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 assists per game for the Vikings (5-1, 1-0) this season.

Reigan Richardson, Cannon School Basketball: The 6-foot, Cannon School guard had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Cougars past Rabun Gap Nacoochee 45-39, Dec. 14.

Richardson, a major Division I recruit according to Cannon School coach Kelvin Drakeford, is averaging 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals per game for the Cougars (6-2) this season.

Ti’Kyevah Mackey, Lancaster Basketball: The Lancaster senior guard scored a career-high 40 points to lead the Bruins to a 76-23 win over Chester, Dec. 14.

Mackey was 17-for-23 from the field in the Chester win, including 4-for-8 from the three-point line.

Mackey averaged 29 points per game in three games last week, and is averaging 21.1 points per contest for Lancaster this season (3-5).

Morgan Kelson, Providence Day Basketball: The Providence Day junior forward averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds per game in two wins last week.

Kelson scored a career-high 29 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in a 54-51 win at York Prep, Dec. 14.

She also had a double-double three days earlier in a 55-18 victory over Metrolina Christian.

Kelson is averaging 13.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season for the Chargers (5-6).

Katie Rauch, South Mecklenburg Swimming: The Sabres’ sophomore won all four events she swam against Providence, Dec. 15.

Rauch won the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle individually, while leading the 200 medley relay (with Reagan Johnson, Ellie Marquardt and Brynn Martinson) and 400 freestyle relay (with Martinson, Marquardt and Haley Robinson) to victories as well.

Olwyn Bartis, Myers Park Swimming: The Myers Park senior won all four events she swam in as the Mustangs beat Hough (146 to 140) at West Charlotte, Dec. 12.

Bartis, a Duke University commit, won the 200 and 500 freestyle events individually, while leading the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams to victories with teammates, Claire Russell, Janie Smith and Liza Whitmire.

Netanya Linares, Cuthbertson Track: The Cavaliers’ senior set school records in the 55-meter hurdles, running an 8.64 to win the Cuthbertson Polar Bear, Dec. 13.

Linares also set a school-record to win the pole vault at the same meet with a 10-6, and won the high jump with a personal-best 5-2, and finish as runner-up in the shot put, throwing a personal-record 29-1.

** Information published today includes statistics through December 16th.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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