Thirty-two of the finest athletes in Georgetown County and along the South Strand were honored April 26 at the inaugural Best of Prep Sports banquet at Pawleys Plantation, presented by the Georgetown Times and South Strand News.

Award winners represented Andrews, Carvers Bay, Georgetown, St. James and Waccamaw high schools, Lowcountry Prep School, and The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences. Awards were handed out in every sport played at the schools, plus for top scholars (all of whom had a grade point average of 5.2), leaders and equestrian.

Emcee for the evening was Warren Peper, a columnist for the Post and Courier and former anchorman for WCBD-TV in Charleston. Guest speaker was Carvers Bay High School graduate Clayton Geathers, who plays for the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL. Before the banquet, Geathers spent time chatting and taking pictures with the athletes, their family members and coaches.

Peper announced the name of each award winner and then provided a little bit of information on the athlete, who received a plaque from Geathers. Later in the evening, state Rep. Carl Anderson presented certificates from the state Legislature to the winners.

Desideria Anderson of Georgetown High School, the Player of the Year for girls basketball, said she was excited to win and receive a personalized certificate from Anderson. She “loved” the banquet, she added.

A special moment during the banquet occurred when Heather Lambert, a special education student at Georgetown High, received the Courage Award. This season Lambert joined the soccer team at Andrews High soccer team -- the school is closer to her home -- and practiced with the team every day. In March she scored her first career goal. Lambert also participates in the Special Olympics each year.

After dinner and the awards presentation, Geathers spoke about his journey from Georgetown County to the NFL. He told the young athletes that he was once where they are now.

“That greatness, that hunger you have inside of you, everyone around you sees it and believes in you,” Geathers said. “I'm a walking testimony. … You can do anything you put your mind to. … Stay the course. Stay focused.”

After reaching his goal of graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in sports and exercise science in 2015, Geathers was drafted by the Colts. Since then, two serious injuries have caused him to miss a lot of games. The second injury occurred shortly after he returned to the field following his first recovery process. He called the experience a “test.”

“It tested my faith and my thoughts,” Geathers said. “It was the most difficult thing I experienced in my life.”

Geathers left the crowd with a thought that many in attendance said stuck with them: “Be where your feet are.” He also asked the athletes “Why do you do the things you do? When you figure it out you will excel and flourish.”

Tyvon Richardson of The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences, Player of the Year for boys basketball, said he was excited to meet Geathers and hear his story.

“He inspired me,” Richardson said. “I know if I work hard I can make good just like he did.”

Georgetown High School’s Gabe Holmes said he was excited to win the Player of the Year for boys tennis award and he was also inspired by Geathers’ words. “It gives hope for the area,” Holmes said.

John Cioni, publisher of Georgetown Times and South Strand News, congratulated all the winners and said their hard work was an “inspiration” to others.

“It was truly an exciting evening and we thank everyone for the positive feedback we’ve received,” Cioni said. “I would also like to thank all of our sponsors for helping us make this a memorable evening for so many. We look forward to next year’s event.”

Here is a list of the best of Prep Sports Award winners:

Scholar of the Year

Chris Attias, The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences

Blake Errico, Lowcountry Prep School

Isabella Neubauer, The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences

Peyton Little, Lowcountry Prep School

Team Leader of the Year

Carlynn Harper, Andrews High School

Margaret Buxton, The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences

Courage Award

Heather Lambert, Georgetown High School

Angler of the Year

Noah Payne, Andrews High School

Kadyn Kellahan, Andrews High School

Player of the Year - Baseball

Jaret Montenery, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - Boys basketball

Dijon Goss, Carvers Bay High School

Darius McGirt, Georgetown High School

Tyvon Richardson, The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences

Player of the Year - Girls basketball

Desideria Anderson, Georgetown High School

Athlete of the Year - Boys cross country

Perrin Jones, Waccamaw High School

Athlete of the Year - Girls cross country

Briley Arnold, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - Football

Toronto King, Carvers Bay High School

Player of the Year - Boys golf

Jackson Cole, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - Girls golf

Smith Knaffle, St. James High School

Player of the Year - Boys lacrosse

Carson Homnick, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - Girls lacrosse

Sophie Lesando, St. James High School

Player of the Year - Boys soccer

Luke Williams, St. James High School

Player of the Year - Girls soccer

Paloma Martinez, Andrews High School

Player of the Year - Softball

Carli McCants, Andrews High School

Athlete of the Year - Boys swimming

Casey Mitchell, St. James High School

Athlete of the Year - Girls swimming

Emma Sullivan, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - Boys tennis

Gabe Holmes, Georgetown High School

Player of the Year - Girls tennis

Kate Drosieko, Waccamaw High School

Athlete of the Year - Boys track and field

Jackson Junkins, Waccamaw High School

Athlete of the Year - Girls track and field

Briley Arnold, Waccamaw High School

Player of the Year - volleyball

Savanna Morris, Waccamaw High School

Athlete of the Year - Wrestling

Ming Hampton, Georgetown High School

Equestrian of the Year

Venus DeMello, Lowcountry Prep School

Thank you to our Prep Sports sponsors:

Gold: Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.

Bronze: Carolina Cool, Georgetown Tree Services.

Awards: Badcock Home Furniture & More - Georgetown, Bob Holman - State Farm, Brookgreen Gardens, J&S Flooring, Sears of Georgetown, Shades & Shutter Expo.

Friends of Prep Sports: Bed Man, Cruise Planners.

Tickets: Carolina Car Care, Flooring Plus, Georgetown Kraft Credit Union, Groucho's Deli, Island Floors, Lachicotte Realty, Palmetto Ace Hardware, The Georgetown Real Estate Agency, Tidelands Community Hospice, Tidelands Ford, The Village Group.