Dynamic duo: Former West teammates Curran and Scheier having good season at High Point
Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 24, 2020
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
The ties that bond are those that strengthen us.
We’ve all had to learn and adapt to that during this crazy year of 2020, especially for two athletes that played girls basketball at West Forsyth. Skyler Curran and Callie Scheier, who are now starring as women’s basketball players at High Point University, developed that bond years ago.
Although they’re a year apart — Curran is a junior at High Point and Scheier a sophomore — they met each other before playing on the same team at West Forsyth. They even played AAU basketball for the Winston-Salem Stealers when Curran was a freshman at West Forsyth and Scheier was an eighth-grader at Clemmons Middle School.
When they first met, they didn’t know what to make of each other. Curran is 6 feet and Scheier is 5-2. Scheier moved to the area with her parents. Her father, Adam, was named an assistant football coach with Coach Dave Clawson at Wake Forest after the Scheiers were with Clawson at Bowling Green before Clawson replaced Jim Grobe at Wake Forest in 2014.
“She was shy,” Curran said of when she met Scheier. “I met her at the Y(MCA) and I introduced myself, and she would barely talk to me — which was understandable moving to a new city that you were unfamiliar with.”
Curran said their relationship began to evolve after that, with Curran slowly chiseling away some of the facade Scheier had built after moving here from Ohio.
“I think once we were on the same AAU team I think that’s when we became friends,” Curran said.
Curran played her freshman year at West Forsyth with Coach LaQuanda Barksdale Quick, who was a legendary player at West Forsyth before she played in college at North Carolina and then in the WNBA. Quick resigned after that season, just as Scheier was about to start playing there the next season. In steps Coach Brittany Cox, now Cox Hudson, to take over for Quick as the head coach at West Forsyth. Although she had no previous coaching experience, Cox Hudson played at Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville with Coach Brian Robinson, who also runs the Stealers. Cox Hudson graduated from McGuinness in 2009 after winning four of the nine straight NCHSAA Class 1-A titles the Villains won from 2006-14.
Cox Hudson played in college at Pfeiffer, and after graduating in 2013, she became an graduate assistant at Campbell before taking the job at West Forsyth before the 2015-16 season.
“Skyler and had this workout with (Cox Hudson) with her in the summer (2015) once she was going to be the head coach,” Scheier said. “It was interesting getting to know her, and we didn’t talk to her much. We were kind of shy. It’s funny to look back on that see how we went from that to now. Coach Cox is still a big part of our lives.”
Although Cox Hudson didn’t know much about what Titans did while playing for Quick, Cox Hudson did some research on the returning players, including Curran and this incoming freshman named Scheier.
“We started having an organized, kind of like a shooting workout,” Cox Hudson said. “And so two of the kids wanted to meet the new coach, and they happened to be Callie and Skyler.
“So they came into West and I’ll never forget it, to shoot on the gun, and Callie was incoming freshman, Skyler being a rising sophomore. They just shot on the gun. We talked a little bit about both of their parents. It’s funny that it still seems so fresh as the day it happened.”
Despite time passing by it can still remain the same.
“It’s funny to see how (five) years later I believe that relationship between both kids has developed, how much they’ve developed as basketball players, as people, and to still have the relationship with both of them that I did when I first saw them.”
Despite both Curran and Scheier being top-notch players they couldn’t look more different in stature — Curran is tall and Scheier is nearly a foot shorter.
“I got to hear about Skyler, and then I got to hear about a little lefty point guard, who was small but feisty, and who everybody told me they thought would be a really solid point guard,” Cox Hudson said. “She had just moved from Ohio the year before, but she was playing one year of middle-school ball. So I heard a lot about the both of them, and that first night watching them shoot on the gun I realized just how good they are already were.”
Despite Scheier living in Clemmons for a year before playing at West Forsyth it still wasn’t the easiest of circumstances to come into a totally different situation as a freshman with a new coach.
“Having basketball, it’s easy to make instant friends,” she said. “The girls on the basketball team were my friends and got comfortable really easily, and once I got close with Coach Cox I got comfortable. I did go to eighth grade in Clemmons, so I knew people at West. But it was like knowing people prior to the West Forsyth team because that helped me get more comfortable.”
Cox Hudson’s first team was a work in progress. The Titans lost its season-opener to Atkins in the first round of the Mary Garber Holiday Tip-Off Classic, but the Titans rebounded to finish 20-7 overall and 9-3 in the Central Piedmont 4-A.
The following season, with Curran as a junior and Scheier a sophomore, the Titans had expectations of being a really good team. They won their first two games in the Garber, but they lost to conference-rival Reagan in the championship. West Forsyth finished 24-6 and 10-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. West Forsyth reached the NCHSAA Class 4-A tournament and defeated Charlotte Harding and Watauga, but the season after conference-rival Reynolds defeated West Forsyth in the third round.
All the while Curran was starting to get scholarship offers to play in college. She decided to take the intrigue out of the recruiting process and commit to High Point.
“My mind was set my freshman year,” Curran said. “I committed August-September junior year, so I had two years left of high school that I essentially wasn’t being recruited anymore…I didn’t love the recruiting process, so I think that’s one of the reasons I did play a lot better those last two years. So it was a little bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Curran had already established herself as one of the best players in the Triad, if not the state before her senior year at West Forsyth. And with that, the Titans still had that do-everything guard named Scheier. During the 2017-18 season much was expected of the talent-ladened Titans. They defeated Reagan in the Garber championship in November, and they finished 24-4 overall and had just one conference loss to Reagan. They defeated Reagan in the conference-tournament championship at Reynolds, received a first-round bye in the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs, then defeated conference-rival Glenn, followed by Charlotte Vance. In the quarterfinals, West Forsyth traveled to Charlotte to play Mallard Creek.
But not even a sparkling 27 points from Curran in what proved to be final game at West Forsyth was enough as Mallard Creek won 66-58.
“We just went in, it’s just like winner’s mentality,” Curran said. “If you go into some of those games and you know you’ve got to play a really good team, so you know you want to come out and play the best basketball you can. So I think that’s how it was. I’ve had people tell me that was one of the best games I played at West, but it sucks for you to play your best game and not come out with a win. That was frustrating.”
Scheier added 13 points in that game.
“Obviously I wish we would’ve won the fourth-round game at Mallard Creek, but we definitely see how far we’ve come, especially within relationships and with Coach Cox, our skill level and how our team played together throughout those years,” Scheier said.
Although small in stature, Scheier still got some Division I offers — High Point and Presbyterian. Scheier committed to High Point and then-Coach DeUnna Hendrix.
“Coach Cox and I always talked about that, ‘Heart over height,’” Scheier said. “And that’s kind of always been my thing. I always play with a chip on my shoulder, and I’ve always wanted to prove people wrong and just show that I can do it no matter what size I am, and that I’m always going to give as well, and play with heart.”
Needless to say, Curran helped recruit Scheier to High Point.
“This isn’t a jab at Callie at all, but her size is a little bit worrisome to people sometimes, I think,” Curran said. “I think that might’ve been more Coach Cox recruiting her here. Of course every time they asked me questions I was like, that is one of my best friends. Of course I want her here with me.”
While Curran was at High Point as a freshman, averaging 7.2 points and 2.1 rebounds, Scheier was playing her senior year at West Forsyth. Midway during in the season, Scheier contracted mononucleosis and missed three games.
“Coach Cox even changed our whole offense after I came back from mono,” Scheier said. “There was a lot more screens for me. I ran more of the wing and Cat(herine) Byun ran point guard, and we would run a lot of stuff though the wings. But we definitely took it one game at at time.”
Despite having the obstacle of dealing with their starting player being down with mono, Cox Hudson feels like it made the team better.
“We just played together,” she said. “We played hard. We did everything that I hoped that we would do eventually when I got the job at West.”
West Forsyth finished 27-3 and 9-1 in the conference in 2018-19, but although it defeated Southeast Raleigh in the NCHSAA Class 4-A championship, its most important game might have been defeating Glenn in the conference-tournament final at Davie County. Glenn led by nine points to start the fourth quarter, but West Forsyth fought back to win 45-44 in overtime, led by Scheier’s 34 points.
“I just remember how much fire and energy I felt and our team felt during that game,” Scheier said. “We were down by a lot and things weren’t going our way, and I just remember the seniors — me and Destiny (Griffin) out there — we decided like, ‘We are not losing this game.’”
West Forsyth defeated Mathews Butler in the NCHSAA Class 4-A Western Regional final in Hickory, and then played Southeast Raleigh in the state championship the following weekend at famed Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.
Curran was right there cheering them on just like if she were still on the team. And she saw quite a game from her former high school teammate. Scheier finished with a team-high 29 points and was named the MVP after West Forsyth won 47-36.
“I remember in warm-ups I remember looking up at my parents and just being happy that we were even there,” Scheier said.
After the game and after the press conference, Curran was waiting in the hallway to celebrate with Cox Hudson and her former teammates.
“I was the first one in the hallway when Callie and Coach Cox came out of the interview, so I was their biggest fan,” Curran said.
For Cox Hudson, although she was losing Scheier she said it felt different than previous years losing seniors because they had a chance to celebrate.
“It was my favorite game because I never had to say bye,” Cox Hudson said.
Scheier went to High Point in the summer of 2019, but High Point made a coaching change before the season and named former Florida Gulf Coast assistant Chelsea Banbury the head coach.
“I knew a little bit about them, and that they shot 3s, but you learned a lot once we got here,” Banbury said. “There wasn’t too much on incoming people. I didn’t even get their names until after I got the job.”
There was an equal commitment between Banbury and the players, including Scheier, whom she didn’t recruit. It certainly paid off for both Curran and Scheier. Curran was named runner-up for player of the year in the Big South after teammate Camryn Brown won. Curran did finish first-team all-conference after finishing with 16.9 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.
“(Curran) really clicked with the staff and once we figured how we wanted to play and see how successful she could be in that system she got pretty excited, and I think she saw how good of a player she could be,” Banbury said. “Sky was great from the beginning. We never had any issues, and maybe it’s because she loves my son Jackson.”
Scheier, meanwhile, averaged 5.5 points per game as a freshman.
“I give a lot of credit to Callie because she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve been around,” Banbury said. “No matter what I asked of her I think she was going to get in the gym and become whatever player that we needed her to be.”
Curran and Scheier were frequently at West Forsyth games last season, with Scheier watching then-freshman sister, Maddie, start for the Titans. They even helped organize a baby shower earlier this fall for Cox Hudson, who is expecting the birth of a baby girl in early February.
“Even at West people still talk about Callie and Skyler, and all of the girls that have graduated,” Cox Hudson said. “And it is a big sense of pride, like those kids accomplished a lot playing for me, but to just drive 20 to 30 minutes and catch so many of their games typically, it’s so much fun.”
Then COVID-19 hit and halted the high school and college seasons for almost all involved. Colleges elected to come back and play, navigating through the pandemic. Curran was named preseason player of the year in the Big South, and Scheier has a defined role off the bench. Curran started with 28 points and 8 assists against North Carolina in Chapel Hill and now averages 18.7 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game through the first seven games after splitting with UNC Asheville in a conference series last weekend. Scheier is averaging 4.3 points per game for the Panthers, who are 3-4 and 1-1.
“I’m not one for all the awards,” Curran said. “I really just want to win basketball games. I could honestly care less of awards or recognition I get as long as we’re winning basketball games.”
They live in the same facility at High Point, but they’re not roommates.
“We’d probably rip each other’s heads off,” Scheier said. “Coach Cox always said like we had that sister relationship where we’d fight and argue all the time, and we’d still love each other.
In addition, Adam Scheier took a job as an assistant football coach at Rutgers after shuttling back-and-forth between Clemmons and his stops at Ohio State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State. The Scheiers made the decision to move to New Jersey to be close to Rutgers. However, Callie and her middle sister Riley stayed back here this past June, and Riley is now a freshman the University of Miami.
Scheier said she has rarely seen her family in person since the summer, but she did travel to New Jersey earlier this week to spend this week of Christmas up there before coming back here on Saturday to prepare for the season.
“It’s been different being away from my family,” Scheier said. “I have not seen my dad in 5 1/2 months, so I’m excited to see him.”
Curran’s family is still in Clemmons, including her father, Joe, who played hockey years ago for the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds. She’ll be spending time with her family, including her parents, sisters, brothers-in-law and her nieces and nephews.
High Point will get yet another West Forsyth player next year because senior Shakira Baskerville has signed to play there.
“They definitely are the foundation of it, and they’re definitely the type of kids that can build a program around because they do work hard,” Banbury said. “Fortunately they’re pretty good too. It’s nice when your good players are your hard workers.”
After the Christmas break, High Point point will play on Dec. 30-31 at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. No matter what happens in the future for both Curran and Scheier they have a sense as to where it all started. Both even said they’re going to spoil Cox Hudson’s daughter and babysit.
“It’s always bigger than basketball,” Curran said. “Basketball is not the world, and it’s not everything.”