ASHEVILLE – As the refrain goes, Rocky Top will soon be home sweet home to Dalton Gossett.
Gossett is about to begin life as a regular student at the University at Tennessee. She’s come to peace with that for now. After all, the recent Erwin graduate’s comeback story is still very much in the progress of being written.
Gossett has worked her way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament to play in Monday’s East-West All-Star girls basketball game in Greensboro.
She may be the happiest and most anxious player on the Greensboro Coliseum floor once the 6:30 p.m. tip-off occurs.
“I’m pretty nervous about it, honestly. It brings me back to the old feelings I used to get before games,” Gossett said.
“I still wouldn’t say I’m totally 100 percent (physically). There are still some minor complications, but I’m just going to play through those. They’re not big things.”
No difficulty in Gossett’s life feels as big as it once did.
The two-time Citizen-Times All-WNC guard and 2015 Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year seized up in pain during a Jan. 19 game at Asheville High.
At the time of a surgery on her right knee, Gossett was averaging 18.5 points, 6.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 steals. The Warriors were tied for first in the N.C. Basketball Coaches Association NCHSAA 3-A poll.
The Erwin girls (27-2) went on to complete their second consecutive undefeated season in the Mountain Athletic Conference, but probably never achieved their full potential without their point guard. And Gossett could only watch from the bench as the team lost in the third round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’m just so thankful for my team, my family and all my friends that were always there for me. I was in a place (mentally) where I felt like I had let everybody down. I obviously wanted to be out there with my team and everyone was really supportive of what I was going through.”
Gossett scored 1,151 career points and named to the Citizen-Times All-WNC team as a junior and senior. She hasn’t ruled out pursuing a walk-on spot at Tennessee once she fully recuperates.
“I’ve been working as hard as I can,” Gossett said.
“I’m doing physical therapy with (local trainer) Joel Moffat and I’m so thankful to him for helping me so much. I’m just happy to get back to doing normal things. Being able to run and jump again is exciting.”
An added bonus to being part of Monday’s East-West All-Star game is that Gossett gets to play one last time for her father. Erwin girls coach Terry Gossett is an assistant for the West team.
“It’s been real rewarding to watch her come back from a knee injury like she has,” Terry Gossett said.
“She has worked every day doing something. I’m glad she is getting this opportunity to play with so many talented kids. It’s a great feeling.”
Pisgah graduate Brooklyn Allen will join Dalton Gossett in the West girls’ backcourt.
Asheville High’s Damon Scott and Smoky Mountain’s Jayce Wolfe are local players in the East-West boys game which begins Monday at 8:30 p.m. Former Smoky Mountain coach Jimmy Cleaveland heads up the West boys coaching staff.