Month: January 2020

Cedar Ridge senior Jai’kel Gibbs talks sweeping Orange

On Senior night, Cedar Ridge guard Jai’kel Gibbs came off the bench to lift the Red Wolves. Within seconds of entering the game, Gibbs hit three 3-pointers in a span of three minutes against crosstown rival Orange. Gibbs finished with 15 points as the Red Wolves completed a regular season sweep of the Panthers, 66-60 in a packed Red Wolves Gymnasium. It was the first time Cedar Ridge has swept the Panthers since 2015. Gibbs finished with 15 points, including two more three-pointers in the second half. Cedar Ridge hit eight 3-pointers in the first half for a lead they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the game. The Red Wolves will travel to Northern Durham on Tuesday night. Tipoff will be at 7:30 at Poe Gymtorium.  

Cedar Ridge senior Caitlyn Lloyd talks her final home game

It was a night of emotion for the Cedar Ridge women’s basketball team on Friday night. They played its senior night game against crosstown rival Orange. For the second time this season, Cedar Ridge led at the half before the Panthers closed out strong for the win. Senior Caitlyn Lloyd played her final game with classmates Tori Dalehite, Jacori Walton and Isabella Flynt.  Lloyd had played on the women’s basketball team for four years. She had played alongside Dalehite and Walton since their days at Gravelly Hill in Efland. Lloyd plans to go to UNC Charlotte after she graduates from Cedar Ridge in June,  then plans to go to Campbell for law school. She still plans to find time on the hardwood for intramurals. Cedar Ridge will continue its season against Northern Durham on Tuesday at Poe Gymtorium. You can hear the game on starting at 6. 

Chapel Hill wrestling stuns Orange 32-30 for Panthers first conference loss since 2003

If the Chapel Hill wrestling team didn’t understand the magnitude of what they accomplished at the end of Thursday night, you really can’t blame them.

Very few of them were alive the last time Orange lost a conference match.

That was 17 years ago, which was also the last time the Panthers didn’t win a conference championship.

Now, after years of frustration, the Tigers can say they finally slayed the dragon. And they did it on Orange’s senior night.

The Tigers defeated Orange 32-30 to win the Big 8 Conference championship on Thursday night at Panther Gymnasium. The Tigers didn’t lead until the final match. Orange was one victory away from winning its 17th consecutive conference championship. Instead, they will go on the road to begin the 3A State Dual Team Tournament on Tuesday, most likely against Union Pines.

With Orange (23-4, 6-1 in the Big 8) leading 30-26 going into the final match, Chapel Hill’s Porter Brice pinned Orange’s Campbell Bourlon in 4:44. After the referee’s arm slammed against the mat, Chapel Hill Coach Tripp Price was embraced by his players and assistants for the Tigers first conference championship in wrestling since joining the 3A ranks in 2010.

It was Chapel Hill’s first win over Orange in wrestling in decades. The Panthers had defeated the Tigers in all ten of their regular season matches since the two became conference rivals again in 2010, in addition to the opening round of the 2016 state dual matches.

Orange, which led 30-16 with three matches remaining, suffered its first conference loss since 2003 against Riverside, when they were a 4A team competing in the PAC-6 Conference. From 2004-19, Orange won every conference championship competing in two different classifications.

Orange went undefeated against conference opponents for the entire decade of the 2010s, going 62-0. On December 11, the Panthers defeated crosstown rival Cedar Ridge to finish a perfect decade against league opposition.

“Chapel Hill is a very good team,” said Orange wrestling coach Spenser Poteat. “We gave up bonus points in a lot of matches. They didn’t give up a lot of bonus points. You can tell that from the final score. They won by two. We had three or four matches where we could have scored more points and we didn’t.”

Coming off a 81-0 victory at Northern Durham the night before, Orange won the first three matches. At 126 pounds, Kessel Summers pinned Diego Reveles in 1:56. Matthew Smith-Breeden scored a 9-1 major decision over Bro Dinh. Orange’s Henry Joubert-Stanzel increased the Panther lead to 13-0 with a 13-7 decision over Ta’Vonne Page.

Of Chapel Hill’s seven individual victories, five came with bonus points. It started at 145 pounds when Alexander Gunning earned a major decision over Tayton Alvis 15-5.

After Noah Davis got a major decision of his own against Bryan Lopez 18-4, the Tigers won consecutive matches. Can Kilic earned an 8-4 win over Korbin Nevius. At 170, Devine Pipkins pinned Nathan Hecht in 4:52 to cut Orange’s lead to 17-13.

Brendon Worsham, who finished second at the Silver Fox Invitational at Riverside on Saturday, defeated Bryan Ramirez 14-10 at 182 pounds. At 195, Orange’s Xavier Tinnen pinned Milad Aghaiepour in 2:58 to push the Panther lead to 26-13.

With hopes for an upset slipping away, Chapel Hill’s Ian Hamilton defeated Tyler Larkin 5-1 at 220. In a thriller at heavyweight, Orange senior Juan Navarro won a sudden death match against Ben Yates 3-2 to increase Orange’s advantage to 30-16.

Chapel Hill’s Lucas Daley pinned Dillon Heffernan in 4:34 at 106 pounds. Moo Soe outscored Josh Bunn 19-11, leading to Brice’s heroics in the final match.

“Congratulations to Chapel Hill,” Poteat said. “Hopefully, this will show our guys that you have to work hard at all times and not give up points when you don’t have to. Obviously, we wanted to win, but we didn’t. Now it’s time to start it back again.”

Orange wrestling beats Northern, faces Chapel Hill Thursday for Big 8 title

For two decades, it has been an annual tradition for the Orange wrestling team to compete for a Big 8 Championship in the final days of January.

It will be no different this year.

On Tuesday night, the Panthers defeated Northern Durham 81-0 at Poe Gymtorium in Durham to officially clinch a birth in the 3A State Dual Team Tournament. Now, the Panthers will have 24 hours to face Chapel Hill in Hillsborough.

The Panthers, now 23-3 overall, 6-0 in the Big 8, will go for its 17th consecutive championship on Thursday night.

Northern had several athletes out due to illness. Of the 14 matches, Orange won nine by forfeit.

The only match of the evening that went the distance came at 152 pounds, where Noah Davis defeated Shamari Zachan 8-4. Davis is 25-15 on the season.

Tyler Larkin, Juan Navarro, Josh Dunn, John-Michael Bourlon, Kessel Summers, Matthew Smith-Breeden, Henry Joubert-Stenzel, Korbin Nevius and Nathan Hecht all had forfeit wins for Orange.

Navarro, a senior heavyweight, claimed the 70th victory of his career. Summers now has 34 wins, which leads the team. Smith-Breeden, who won the opening two matches of the Tiger Holiday Classic at Chapel Hill High on December 20, improved to 33-13.

The Panthers claimed four wins via pinfall. At 106 pounds, freshman Dillon Heffernan defeated Khamain Dixon in 2:53. Heffernan, who won the Silver Fox Invitational at nearby Riverside High School on Saturday, is 29-14 with 13 pins this season.

Tayton Alvis, who won the 145-pound championship at the Silver Fox, pinned Northern’s Chelsey Posadas in only 18 seconds. It was Alvis’ 14 pin of the year and his 21st victory.

At 182 pounds, Brendon Worsham pinned Hayden Douglas in 1:38. Worsham improved to 26-12 with 16 pins in his first season as a starter.

Xavier Tinnen completed the sweep for the Panthers by pinning Tyler Kendall at 195 pounds in 2:39. Tinnen improved to 18-6 with ten pins.

The winner of the Orange-Chapel Hill match will take the #1 seed from the Big 8 Conference for the state dual tournament. The 32-team tournament begins Tuesday.

The top-seed from the Big 8 will face the #2 seed out of the Tri-County Conference. Currently, Western Harnett is in second place in the Tri-County, behind only Union Pines.

The 2nd round of the 3A State Dual tournament will take place moments after the first round ends at a location to be determined. The bracket opposite the #1 Big 8 seed has the champion of the Patriot Athletic Conference going against the #2 seed from the Coastal Conference.

Cape Fear, who defeated Orange in the 2nd round of the 3A State Playoffs last year, is currently undefeated in the Patriot Athletic Conference.

The regional semifinals and finals of the state dual tournament will be held February 6 at a location to be determined. The 3A State Championship will be held at the Greensboro Coliseum Fieldhouse on February 8.

Orange and Chapel Hill have battled for the Big 8 Championship each of the last four years. Typically the regular season finale for both teams, the Panthers defeated the Tigers 37-21 last year at Tiger Gymnasium. In 2018, Orange defeated Chapel Hill 60-15, and went on to win the 3A Eastern Regional Championship before falling to Piedmont in the state championship match.

Cedar Ridge’s Fowlkes, Horne, Orange’s Mims qualify for state indoor track championships

With the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Indoor Track & Field Championships only two weeks away, several Hillsborough athletes will be included in the festivities.

After qualifying for the NCHSAA 3A Outdoor Track & Field Championships last year, Cedar Ridge sophomore Caroline Fowlkes has qualified for the Indoor State Championships in the pole vault. In the Eastern Alamance Polar Bear #1 on December 3, Fowlkes clear nine feet. The NCHSAA standard is 8’6″ to qualify for the state championships.

Since then, Fowlkes has reestablished for career-high with an attempt of 9’6″ in the Eastern Alamance Polar Bear #2 on December 18. On Tuesday, Fowlkes peaked at nine feet, once again, at the Eastern Alamance Polar Bear #3, which concluded the Red Wolves regular season.

Joining Fowlkes in the indoor state championships will be Cedar Ridge sprinter Elijah Horne. In the Eastern Alamance Polar Bear #1, Horne qualified for the 500 meters after he finished first with a time of 1:07.81. The NCHSAA state qualifying standard is 1:08.5.

In the Eastern Alamance Polar Bear #2, Horne won the 300 meters and barely missed qualifying for the state championships. He crossed the finish line at 37.85 seconds, just behind the state mandate of 36.4 seconds.

Meanwhile, Orange’s Keanu Mims attained a goal he had been shooting for throughout the winter: qualifying for the 300 meter state championships. Last Saturday at East Chapel Hill High School inside Dave Thaden Stadium, Mims finally qualified by winning the East Polar Bear #5. Mims competed the race in 35.94 seconds, finishing first.

The previous weekend at the East Polar Bear #4, Mims finished at 37.24 on the same track.

Mims narrowly missed qualifying in the 55 meter dash last Saturday. He finished fifth at 6.84 seconds, below the state mandate of 6.4 seconds.

Fowlkes’ has been a pole vaulter since the sixth grade. She started her career in Mobile, AL, where she was allowed to pole vault in middle school. Her mother and father were also pole vaulters at Tolland High School in Alabama. Her father went on to compete at the University of South Alabama, while her mother competed at the University of Florida.

Mims qualified for Orange’s 4×400 relay team in the state Outdoor Championships last May. In the final event of the day at North Carolina A&T’s Belk Track in Greensboro, Mims, Thomas Kaltenbach, Jose Torres and Cameron Michalski completed the race with a time of 3:28.63. They finished tenth in the state.

Running individually last outdoor season, Mims won two meets in the 100 meter dash. On March 7, 2019 he set a new personal best of 11.39 seconds in a meet against East Chapel Hill. He also finished first in a tri-meet against Chapel Hill and Southern Durham on March 14, 2019.

Last weekend at Eastern Alamance, Cedar Ridge’s Sarah Tucker won the women’s 1000 meter race, finishing at 3.24.60. Tucker, who ran cross country and outdoor track for the Red Wolves, just missed qualifying for the state championships.

The Red Wolves’ Kennedy Kelsey won the 55 meters hurdles at 10.47 seconds. The state mandate is 9.1 seconds.

Orange’s Erin Mink won the high jump at East Chapel Hill with a jump of 4’8″. Mink has captured the high jump in back-to-back weekends at East.

The 3A State Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held at JDL Fast Track indoor facility in Winston-Salem on February 14 and 15.

Orange’s Korbin Nevius talks winning the Silver Fox Invitational

Orange’s Korbin Nevius won his first individual championship at the varsity level on Saturday. Nevius claimed the 160-pound championship in the Silver Fox Invitational at Riverside High School in Durham. He pinned Cary’s Jake Wolfram in the championship match in 1:53. In the semifinals, Nevius defeated Matthew Leathers of Voyager Academy 6-4. Nevius started the day by defeating Northern Durhams Cameron Curry via pinfall in 1:52. Nevius started wrestling at Stanford Middle School. Nevius is in his second year on the varsity team. He is 23-9 with ten pins. Last year, Caleb Brimmer and the now-graduated Avery Jenkins wrestled at 160 pounds. Nevius aims to become part of a conference champion this week. Orange will travel to Northern Durham on Wednesday, then host Chapel Hill on Thursday with the Big 8 Championship on the line. Orange is going for its 17th consecutive conference title.

Alumni Update: Barnett sets career-high for Chowan

Icez Barnett: The 2019 Orange graduate was the first player off the bench for the Division II Chowan women’s basketball team in its 81-55 win over Southern Wesleyan at the Helms Center in Murfreesboro on Saturday. Barnett scored a career-high ten points as the Hawks defeated the Warriors 81-55. Barnett also played 14 minutes, her longest sting since November 30 against UNC Pembroke. The Hawks are 4-14 overall, 4-10 in Conference Carolinas. They host #25 Belmont Abbey in the Helms Center tonight (Tuesday).

Kaylen Campbell: The Division III Trinity women’s basketball team is on a five-game winning streak. On Sunday, the Bantams defeated MCLA 43-31 in Hartford, CT. It was the second-fewest amount of points the Bantams have allowed this season. Campbell played eight minutes and grabbed three rebounds and made a steal. Trinity is now 14-4 overall, 3-1 in the New England Small Conference Athletic Conference. On Saturday, Trinity rallied to defeat Connecticut College 60-57 in Posting Gymnasium in Hartford. Campbell came off the bench to play six minutes. She finished with two points and one rebound. Trinity travels to Middlebury on Friday.

Lauren Cates: The Wake Tech Community College women’s basketball team has won nine of its last ten games. On Saturday, the Eagles defeated Southwest Virginia 73-50 in Raleigh. Cates scored four points off 2-of-6 shooting from the field. She also had three rebounds and a steal. The Eagles are 14-4 overall, 7-3 in Region X of the National Junior College Athletic Association. On Thursday, the Eagles defeated Spartanburg Methodist 63-62. Cates finished with eight points off 3-of-5 shooting from the field. Cates finished 2-of-4 from 3-point range. The Wake Tech school record for wins in a season is 18.

Jamar Davis: A week after he clinched a spot in the ACC Track & Field Indoor Championships, Davis won his first indoor meet of the 2020 season on Saturday. Davis won the long jump with a leap of 7.43 meters to take the championship of the Hokie Invitational at Rector Field House in Blacksburg, VA. Davis also won the triple jump championship with a jump of 15.67, which was three inches better than North Carolina’s Jaren Holmes. On Friday and Saturday, the Wolfpack men’s and women’s teams will journey to Lubbock, TX to compete in the Texas Tech Invitational. Davis qualified for the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships during the Gamecock Opener at the University of South Carolina on January 17 & 18.

Marvin Jones: The North Carolina Central junior finished 2nd in the high jump in the Liberty Kickoff indoor track & field event in Lynchburg, VA on Saturday. Jones had a jump of 2.05 meters. Tequann Claitt of Indiana Tech finished first with a jump of 2.21 meters. Jones’ performance was one of five top-5 finishes for the Eagles last weekend. Central will continue its indoor season on Friday and Saturday in the Camel City Invitational. The meet will take place at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

Braden Homsey: Washington & Lee defeated the Division III Ferrum wrestling team 21-18 on Saturday in the W&L Student Activities Pavilion in Lexington, VA. Homsey scored a major decision for Ferrum. Wrestling at 197 pounds, Homsey defeated Brad Basham 12-1. It’s been a solid sophomore season for Homsey, who is now 19-7 with one pin.

Two Cents from the Franklin Mint: A New Turn of Events

On January 24, Nick Stevens of released a report stating that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has distributed ballots to all 418 member schools for two proposed changes to its by-laws.

Principals are designated voters on behalf of each member school and each school receives a singular vote. Any school who fails to submit a ballot will be counted as a “no” vote. In order to pass these amendments, each issue will require a three-fourths vote in the affirmative of the full membership to pass — 314 of the 418 member schools. 

Principals have until January 27 to submit their ballots and the results will be announced at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting at the Dean E. Smith Center on April 30. The new realignment cycle is slated to begin at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

Proposal #1 would allow the NCHSAA Board of Directors to change the number of classifications from four to any number of classifications, which could have many ramifications. The ballot mentions five or six classifications, with the possibility of dropping back to three or four classifications in subsequent years if the board feels it is necessary.

For voting considerations on this amendment proposal, the Association is urging schools to consider a number of factors. Among them, the Association cites a new playoff system could possibly allow all teams participating in a sport to qualify for the playoffs and be seeded based on a ranking system. If this amendment were adopted, this action would effectively eliminate the regular season from consideration when it comes to the playoffs.

The NCHSAA also infers that changing to five or six classifications could result in significant increases in travel, which could also impact the amount of missed classroom time for student-athletes.

My take on this first proposal: What is the point of a regular season and a state championship if everyone is allowed to participate? The emphasis on regular season play is to determine who the best teams are and to weed out the inferior ones. 

As I’ve stated in previous editions, no team with a sub-.500 record should be playing in a state tournament, unless they win their conference championship outright in the regular season, by regular season tiebreaker, or by tournament championship. Allowing all teams to compete for the state championship will virtually cause the state playoff system to lose meaning and purpose. The entire emphasis of regular season play is to determine who the better teams are and to separate them from those that didn’t have good seasons. 

In previous editions, I’ve made the claim that engorging the state playoff system is a ploy to allow the Association to increase revenue. If this proposal passes, this will be confirmed. More teams means more games, and more games means more money. 

The NCHSAA has needed to expand to 5A for approximately 10 to 15 years as the statewide boom of school construction continues. The expansion would allow the playoff system to return to more reasonable levels while featuring the best teams. To liberally expand or contract the classification system like an accordion, will do more damage than it will do for good.

The Association claims that an expansion to 5A (or even larger to 6A) will cause an increase in travel time, and cause student-athletes will miss additional class time. For state playoff purposes, this could be true as the number of class-specific schools will be more concentrated to certain locations. However, in normal, regular-season scenarios, not much class time will be missed or travel times will be affected, as many teams play within reasonable distances from their schools.

Another option the Association may wish to consider is staggering games in opposite locations. For example, junior varsity football is played on Thursday evenings in one location varsity football is played the next night in the opposite location. For basketball purposes, schools might wish to play girls basketball in one location while on the same night, boys will be in the opposite. The same rationale could be to play junior varsity in one location and varsity in the opposition. For spring sports, most games are in one location (Example, Cedar Ridge at Northern Durham / Orange at Vance County) for baseball, softball, and lacrosse (or women’s soccer). Under the same rationale, baseball and lacrosse could be in one location, while softball and women’s soccer could be at the opposite.

This suggestion would significantly decrease the amount of student-athletes participating in away games on school nights. Many schools in our area already do this – most notably, East Chapel Hill. I definitely see the point of the Wildcats to have only one or two games per night, and exiting the school at a reasonable hour, as opposed to playing three or four games in an evening and leaving at near midnight.

Proposal #2 would require the NCHSAA to realign on an annual basis for the state playoffs. This could result in schools having teams in different classifications in each sport, each year. It also means conferences and the regular season could be less dependent on school classification.

For this proposal, I have a mixed opinion. 

First, schools should be designated as 1A, 2A, 3A, or 4A (5A or 6A, if implemented) on the basis of average daily membership (ADM) in ALL sports. This means if a school is 3A in football, they are 3A in every other sport. To reclassify a school per sport and per playoff is completely ridiculous and has no basis for implementation as it would create an undue amount of confusion on the part of the NCHSAA and the member schools.

Second, if a school has a significant increase or decrease in its ADM and needs to be reclassified, then yes, I would support this. This season, Hillside was promoted from 3A to 4A on the basis of an increased ADM, as was Vance County, who was promoted from 2A to 3A. As I previously reported about Waynesville Tuscola, a 3A team in western North Carolina, the Mountaineers were denied an appeal to be reclassified as a 2A team citing a drastic, ten percent reduction in ADM. 17 other schools had a higher ADM including their cross-town rival, Pisgah.

Prior to my arrival in Hillsborough, I announced for Christian schools participating in the North Carolina Christian School Association. As the enrolments of these schools can fluctuate year after year, the NCCSA evaluates each school’s enrolment yearly to determine which classification they will participate in. In addition, the evaluation also determines the district (the NCCSA version of a conference) the school will play in.

In essence, if schools are going to be realigned yearly, they need to be judged on the basis of ADM and participate (season and playoffs) in the assigned class. 

While I am not Cedar Ridge principal Mitchell Stensland or Orange High principal Anne Purcell, but if I were, I would vote NO to both proposals as they are written. The first will not alleviate the bloated mess of four classifications while the second will cause an immense amount of confusion for all member schools.