Magnificent 7: State Playoffs are here

Updated: October 21, 2019

It’s finally feeling like fall.

This year, it also feels like playoff anticipation is alive and well again across Hillsborough after a relatively quiet 2018 at Cedar Ridge. Last academic year, only the Cedar Ridge softball team made the state playoffs among sports that determine their champions through a routine knockout tournament (the Cedar Ridge men’s and women’s cross country teams did qualify for the state championship meet)

This week, the Cedar Ridge volleyball team will officially make the state playoffs for the first time since 2015 when the brackets are unveiled online by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

Orange will also be included in the field of 64. Not only that, but the Lady Panthers have a chance to be the winningest volleyball team at Orange this decade with a win over Northern Durham on Tuesday.

This Friday, Olivia Ward will represent Cedar Ridge women’s tennis in the 3A State Championships at the Burlington Tennis Center. Details about Ward qualifying for the state championships are detailed below.

On Monday, the 3A Central Golf Regionals will be held at Greensboro National Golf Club. Orange’s McKenzie Hawks and Sarah Durham will be competing and attempt to qualify for the 3A State Championships. Hawks and Durham will be the only golfers in Hillsborough competing in the regionals. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 3A State Championships with the three best scores. The top 17 individuals not on a qualifying team (which Orange falls into since they’re only taking two players) can also qualify for the state championships.

Here’s this week’s Magnificent 7. As always, we’ll have the announcement of the Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week and the Orange Panther of the Week later this week.

Olivia Ward: For the second year in a row, Olivia Ward has qualified for the 3A Women’s Tennis State Championships. In a thrilling match on Friday afternoon at the Burlington Tennis Center, Ward defeated Orange sophomore Jera Hargrove in the 2nd round of the 3A Mideast Regionals. Ward won 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to establish herself as the most established women’s tennis player in school history. Ward started the day with a victory over a player from Terry Sanford 6-0, 6-1. In Ward’s freshman year, Cedar Ridge won the 2016 Big 8 Championship. As a junior, she teamed with Alana Lutz to qualify for the 3A State Championships in doubles, where they lost to the eventual state championship tandem of Natalie Lutz and Madelynn Frye of Kings Mountain. Ward will start play in the State Championships on Friday as the #4 seed from the Mideast. She will face the champion of the Midwest Region in the opening round.

Nicholas Frank: Scored the final goal in regulation as the Cedar Ridge men’s soccer team defeated Orange 3-2 in penalty kicks on Monday night. Frank, who notched a brace in the first game between the two teams last month, also scored the game-winning penalty kick as the Red Wolves took another step toward qualifying for the state playoffs for the first time since 2017. Cedar Ridge is 6-10-1 overall, 4-7 in the Big 8 Conference.

Julie Altieri: Yet another week where a freshman Cedar Ridge freshman makes the Magnificent 7. On Thursday, Altieri had 26 assists, five digs, five aces and one block as the Red Wolves swept Vance County in Henderson. Altieri leads the team with 78 aces and 552 assists for the Red Wolves, who are scheduled to conclude its regular season at Southern Durham on Tuesday (though Southern forfeited against Orange on Thursday due to a lack of available players).

Jera Hargrove: Last week’s Orange Panther of the Week won her first match in the Mideast Regionals over the top singles player from Eastern Alamance on Friday at the Burlington Tennis Center in straight sets. It’s the second time in the opening two years of Hargove’s athletic career that she has qualified for regionals. She missed qualifying for states by two games. Hargrove was the #1 singles player for the most successful Orange women’s tennis team this decade. The Lady Panthers finished 11-8.

Kaitlyn Werden: Finished with six kills, three aces, one block, 15 digs and 22 assists in Orange’s five-set thriller at Roxboro Community School on Friday. Werden also had 10 assists and five digs in the loss to Chapel Hill. Combined with Orange’s forfeit win over Southern Durham, the Lady Panthers have won 15 games this season. If they defeat Northern Durham on Tuesday, this Orange team will have more wins than any other Panther volleyball squad this decade.

Machai Holt: Scored two touchdowns in the Orange football team’s 40-30 loss to Vance County on Friday night in Henderson. Holt leads Orange with seven touchdowns. He paced the Panthers with 48 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards against the Vipers. The previous week against Northern Durham, Holt had 111 of Orange’s 144 yards of total offense.

Elliott Sikes: Blasted the game-tying goal for the Orange men’s soccer team in the waning minutes to send the Cedar Ridge game into extra time. Sikes is 2nd on the team with five goals on the season. Orange travels to Chapel Hill on Monday.

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