Month: January 2023

Orange’s Luke Roman & Evan Phillips discuss win at CCC Swimming Championships

After they each won four gold medals in the 2022 Central Carolina Conference swimming championships, senior Evan Phillips and Sophomore Luke Roman had another successful night on Wednesday. During the 2023 CCC Swimming Championships, Roman won three gold medals and one silver medal. Roman captured first place in the 100 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle. It was the second straight year that Roman won the 500 yard freestyle conference championship. Phillips repeated as champion of the 100 yard breaststroke. He also won the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 24.15 seconds. Phillips, Roman, Andrew Weeks and Alex Andre teamed to win the 200 yard medley relay. The performance by Roman and Phillips helped Orange repeat as the Central Carolina Conference champions. Roman and Phillips each have qualified for five events in the 3A Central Regionals, which will take place on Friday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Both Phillips and Roman qualified for the 3A State Championships in 2022 and will look to reach Cary once again next week. They will have to finish in the top six in their respective events in order to qualify for the state championships.

Sikes wins four gold medals, Roman, Phillips three as Orange men’s and women’s swim teams take CCC Championships

Timing. Familiarity. Technique. Awareness.

All of those ingredients are prerequisites for a good swimming relay team. Many of the competitors for the Orange swimming team have grown up together on various club teams, like the Hillsborough Aquatic Club and Eastern Carolina Aquatics.

Those relay teams are what paved the way for the Orange men’s and women’s swim teams to do something unprecedented in school history.

Orange swept the men’s and women’s titles at the Central Carolina Conference Championships at the Orange County Sportsplex on Wednesday night.

The Orange men successfully defended its championship from last year with 446 points. Eastern Alamance finished second at 248 points.

The Orange women won the CCC Championship with 339 points, barely beating out Cedar Ridge for second. The Red Wolves registered 332 points.

Combining the men’s and women’s competitions, Orange took the gold medal in four of the five relay races. The Orange women’s team of Katie Bells Sikes, Riley White, Piper White and Ainsley Rasinske won both the 200 yard medley relay and the 400 yard freestyle relay.

It was another night where Sikes walked out with more hardware than Ace Hardware. Sikes, a junior who committed to swim at the University of Georgia last October, came away with four gold medals. Individually, she earned two gold medals, setting school records in both events. She took the 100 freestyle at 52.04 seconds. In the 100 yard backstroke, Sikes won at 59.03 seconds, six seconds ahead of Eastern Alamance’s Braylee Carter.

Last year, Sikes won two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the CCC Championships.

This year, the relay success led to the Orange women going from a 4th place finish in 2022 to a conference championship this year.

“It definitely takes a lot of practice,” Sikes said about relay teams. “The relay starts are super important. You definitely don’t want to get disqualified for jumping too early, but the faster you jump in the better. Since we all know each other, we all swam on a club team together, we’ve grown pretty accustomed to how we swim.”

In addition to Sikes’ success, junior Riley White won three gold medals. Along with the relay victories, White won the 50 yard freestyle at 25.54 seconds. Abi Robinson of Walter Williams finished second. It was White’s first individual gold medal. White also had a silver medal in the 100 yard butterfly. Abigail Emrich of Northwood claimed the gold with a time of 59.30 seconds.

Freshman Piper White earned a silver medal in the 200 yard freestyle. She finished at 2:07.29, behind only Cedar Ridge’s Sophia Stinnett.

Orange’s men’s relay team of Luke Roman, Evan Phillips, Alex Andre and Andrew Weeks claimed the gold medal in the 200 yard medley relay. In the 200 yard freestyle relay, Orange’s Greyson Brummer, Rylan Brummer, Ayden Twiddy and Nick Baczara finished first at 1:53.31.

Orange nearly had a clean sweep of the relay races. In the final event of the night, the 400 yard freestyle relay, the Panther team led the whole race until Northwood’s Wiley Sikes swam a great anchor leg to beat out the Panthers and win the gold. Sikes, Christian Smith Pumalpa, Morgan Turner and Jesse Sikes finished at 3:38.55. Orange came in at 3:39.61.

Roman and Phillips both had three gold medals and one silver medal.

Roman, a sophomore, repeated as champion of the 500 yard freestyle in a race where his nearest competitor was his teammate, Alex Andre. Roman came in at 4:54.40. This year, Roman also won the gold medal in the 100 yard freestyle, a race he didn’t even compete in during last year’s conference championship. Roman touched the wall at 53.97 seconds, beating out Tigue Hipps of Western Alamance.

As a freshman in 2022, Roman won three gold medals and a silver in the CCC Championships.

Phillips, in his final competitive meet inside the Orange County Sportsplex, captured gold in the 50 yard freestyle, finishing at 22.78 seconds. He held off Cedar Ridge junior Nikhil Agans for first place.

In the 100 yard breaststroke, Phillips earned the top spot at 1:05.07. Jesse Sikes of Northwood finished second.

Andre came away with three silver medals, along with the gold medal in the 200 relay. He came in second in the 500 yard freestyle (behind Roman) and the 200 yard freestyle.

Baczara earned one silver medal and one bronze medal. He finished second in the 200 yard individual medley at 2:22.30. He also finished third in the 100 yard butterfly at 1:02.09. Northwood’s Sikes captured the gold medal.

Agans breaks school record, Stinnett, McCrimmon win gold for Cedar Ridge swimming at CCC Championships

It wasn’t enough for Cedar Ridge junior Nikhil Agans to break one school swimming record last week.

On Wednesday night, he broke another one.

Competing in the 200 yard freestyle, Agans set another Cedar Ridge school record during the Central Carolina Conference Swimming Championships at the Orange County Sportsplex. Agans won the conference championship in the 200 freestyle with a new mark of 1:51.70. Last year, Agans timed out at 1:56.41 in the CCC Championships.

Agans was one of three Cedar Ridge swimmers to win gold medals. In addition, sophomore Sophia Stinnett captured the conference championship in the 200 yard freestyle. Plus, sophomore Quinn McCrimmon won the 200 yard individual medley and qualified for the 3A Central Regional Championships, which will take place at the Greensboro Aquatic Center next Friday.

On the night, Agans finished with a gold medal in the 200 yard freestyle, as well as a silver medal in the 50 yard freestyle. Facing a field of 18 swimmers, Agans’ time of 23.49 seconds was good enough for 2nd place and a spot in Greensboro.

Last week, Agans broke the school record in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 59.25 seconds, shattering the previous mark by over three seconds.

Agans, who has swam on-and-off since he was six years old, has shown noticeable improvement throughout the season. Like all of his teammates, he wakes up at 5:30 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for practice at the Sportsplex, where the Cedar Ridge and Orange swim teams workout together.

“It takes some commitment to wake up early in the morning,” Agans said after last week’s meet against Orange and Walter Williams. “If you really do like swimming, it’s not too hard to wake up. I love my teammates, and I love meets. Not just for the racing, but to talk to people behind the blocks.”

Agans joined sophomore Willem Crittenden, Philip Cauwels and Jason Pattison to finish third in the 400 yard freestyle relay, the final event of the night. The relay team earned a bronze medal.

On the women’s side, Stinnett successfully defended her championship in the 200 yard freestyle. She finished first at 2:05.05. Last year, Stinnett won the 200 freestyle as a freshman at a time of 2:05.28. Stinnett will also be in regionals next Friday.

Stinnett also came away with two silver medals. She finished second in the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 5:34.22. Eastern Alamance senior Braylee Carter won the gold.

Stinnett joined McCrimmon, Abbygale Pearce and Hala Zafar to finish second in the 400 yard freestyle relay. The quartet came in second at 4:17.65, automatically earning a spot in regionals.

The Cedar Ridge women finished second in the team standings. They had 322 points, barely finishing behind first-place Orange, who had 339.

In addition, McCrimmon a bronze medal in the 100 yard butterfly at 1:06.70. Abigail Emrich of Northwood won the gold medal.

The Cedar Ridge men’s team finished 5th in the team standings.

Pattison, a senior who did play-by-play for Cedar Ridge football on, earned three bronze medals. He finished third in the 100 yard freestyle at 56.56 seconds. In the 100 backstroke, Pattison touched the wall at 1:07.61.

Cedar Ridge’s Phillip Cauwels had two bronze medals. In addition to the 400 freestyle relay, he finished third in the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 6:02.35.

Orange wrestling hosts Southern Nash to open State Dual Playoffs Saturday; Carrboro, C.B. Aycock also in quadrant

Last year, the Orange wrestling team came one win shy of reaching the NCHSAA State Dual Team Championship match for the eleventh time.

This year, the Panthers are more experienced, if banged up. They will start their mission to return to Greensboro’s Novant Field House this weekend.

The Panthers will face Southern Nash in the opening round of the 32-team 3A State Dual Team Playoffs on Saturday. Orange will host the first and second rounds of the tournament according to the bracket released by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association on Thursday morning.

Competing on the opposite mat from Orange will be C.B. Aycock, the #7 seed from the Quad County Conference, against #10 seed Carrboro from the Northern Lakes Conference. The winner of the first round matches will meet immediately afterwards to determine who reaches the 3rd round next week.

Orange was undefeated as a team going into its final regular season dual match against Currituck County in the Havelock Duals on January 14. Currituck came away with a controversial victory after a Knight wrestler claimed that an Orange wrestler bit him, an allegation that Orange coach Spenser Poteat vehemently denied and immediately protested to no avail. The Orange wrestler was leading when the match was stopped. At the time, Orange led the dual match 33-25. Currituck ended up getting six team points after they won the match via disqualification, plus Orange had three points subtracted due to “flagrant misconduct.” Currituck won the dual match 34-32. If it wasn’t for that ruling, Orange  likely would have had the #1 seed in the East Region.

Instead, the Panthers, 19-1 overall and 6-0 in the Central Carolina Conference, got a #2 seed in the East. Union Pines received the top seed. Currituck County didn’t make the postseason as First Fight got the only 3A bid from the Northeastern Coastal Conference (one of many 3A/2A conferences).

Last weekend in the Central Carolina Tournament, Orange competed without six starters, leading to a fourth place finish. The Panthers are expected to have 195-pounder Acoya Isley back in the lineup against Westover. This season, Isley is 30-2 with 19 pins. He has individual championships at the Quentin Crosby Invitational at Dudley High School in Greensboro and the Eastern Alamance Invitational in December. Isley finished 2nd at the Tiger Holiday Classic in Chapel Hill, the highest of any Orange wrestler.

Dillon Heffernan, at 145 pounds, will also return to the lineup this weekend. Heffernan, a senior, also won individual championships at Eastern Alamance and the Quentin Crosby Invitational. He is 29-4 with 15 pins.

Even without six staters, Orange had four grapplers win their individual weight classes last week in the CCC Championships: Elijah Acosta (220), Sam Crawford (152), Jared Hutchins (132) and Braden Crawford (126).

Southern Nash,, from the Big East Conference, will face Orange at 11AM on Saturday.

C.B. Aycock won the Quad County Championship with a 15-3 record. They went undefeated in conference action.

Carrboro was the top 3A team out of the Northern Lakes Conference, another split 3A/2A conference. South Granville, a 2A team, won the Northern Lakes Conference championship.

The Panthers have won five dual team state championships and ten regional titles. Their last trip to the State Championship match came in 2018, when they lost to Piedmont 33-31. It was the second straight year that Piedmont and the Panthers faced off for the State Championship. In the previous year, Orange led 29-17 with four matches remaining, but Piedmont won the last three matches to prevail 29-27. That was the final dual match for legendary Orange coach Bobby Shriner.

The regional semifinals and finals will be held on Wednesday at a location to be determined. The 3A State Championship match will take place at Novant Health Fieldhouse in Greensboro next Saturday.


Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Fernando Martinez, who joins 4-Timers Club

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior wrestler Fernando Martinez. In turn, Martinez becomes a member of a select club: he wins the Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week for the fourth time. Thus, he becomes a member of the Four-Timers Club, only the third-ever member of the club. He joins Cedar Ridge softball third baseman Takia Nichols and volleyball outside hitter Cameron Lloyd. Last week, Martinez won the 113-pound title at the Central Carolina Conference championships at Orange High School. Martinez’s victory helped Cedar Ridge to win the Central Carolina Conference tournament championship. Martinez also won the Silver Fox Invitational at Riverside High School in Durham at 113-pounds on January 14. Martinez is third all-time in school history with 139 career victories. This season, he has a record of 41-9. Martinez is the defending 113-pound champion of the Mideast Regional. Next week, Martinez will attempt to qualify for the 3A State Championships for the second time in his career. In the CCC Tournament championship match last Saturday, Martinez defeated Person’s Christian Lemaire. Earlier this year, Lemaire defeated Martinez twice during the regular season. Martinez will graduate in June as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Cedar Ridge history.

Cedar Ridge senior Jason Pattison discusses qualifying for Central Regionals

Cedar Ridge senior swimmer Jason Pattison left the Central Carolina Conference championships with a lot of hardware. On Wednesday night at the Orange County Sportsplex, Pattison came away with three bronze medals. He finished third in the 200 yard medley relay. Pattison was joined by junior Nikhil Agans, sophomore Phillip Cauwels and sophomore Willem Crittenden. Later, Pattison finished third in the 100 yard freestyle, where he has already qualified for the 3A Central Regionals, which will take place next Friday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. To wrap up the night, Pattison joined Crittenden, Cauwels and Agans to finish third in the 400 yard freestyle relay. On top of everything else, Pattison is also a member of the Cedar Ridge lacrosse team. Last season, Cedar Ridge reached the state quarterfinals under first-year head coach Cole Churchill, a member of Cedar Ridge’s 2016 team that reached the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional Championship game. While Pattison finishes up swimming season, he is already preparing for the upcoming lacrosse season where an upstart Red Wolf team will take the field inside Red Wolves Stadium next month. In the interest of full disclosure, Jason also did play-by-play for the Cedar Ridge football team on last fall.

Orange’s Ryan Honeycutt & Malachi Poole discuss basketball win over Williams

The Orange men’s basketball team brought the block party to Panther Gymnasium on Tuesday night. Facing Walter Williams, the Panthers had 13 blocks and 21 offensive rebounds against the Bulldogs. Orange came away with a 66-59 victory which guaranteed the Panthers’ first winning season since 2016-2017. Junior center Ryan Honeycutt had eight points, ten rebounds and three blocks against the Bulldogs. The Panthers never trailed in the game. Junior guard Malachi Poole came in and scored four points as the Panthers kept its lead above eight points for almost the entirety of the second half. Orange has now guaranteed itself a home game in the opening round of the Central Carolina Conference tournament next month, the first time that’s happened since 2017. Orange also took another step towards the 3A State Playoffs. The Panthers will host crosstown rival Cedar Ridge on Friday night at Panther Gymnasium. Tipoff will be at 7 o’clock. In the first game between the two teams on January 3, Orange trailed by five points early in the fourth quarter before they stormed back to win 57-47 at Red Wolves Arena.

Orange Panther of the Week: Evelyn George

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is sophomore basketball forward Evelyn George. On January 6, George recorded her second double-double of the season as the Lady Panthers defeated Person 60-23 in Roxboro. George finished with 20 points and ten rebounds. On January 3, George had 13 points and eight rebounds as Orange defeated Cedar Ridge 56-32 at Panther Gymnasium. Last season, George played regularly as a freshman alongside her older sister Samantha George, who is now at Duke University. This season, George has eight games where she scored in double-figures. She had her first double-double of the season in the semifinals of the Eastern Guilford Holiday Invitational when she registered 14 points and 12 rebounds as Orange defeated Walter Williams 53-47. The next day, Orange would win the tournament championship when they defeated Northeast Guilford 46-25. George scored eleven points against the Rams. George was named to the All-Tournament team. Orange appears poised to make the 3A State Playoffs for the third time in four years. The Lady Panthers will travel to Cedar Ridge on Friday nights George looks to continue a strong season.

SWAT team–Orange block’s party shuts down Williams 66-59; Wade scores 16, Cloer 19

Another new aspect for Orange basketball in 2023 is they can beat a team with defense.

They have almost of rim protectors in freshmen Mason Robinson and Coleman Cloer, along with junior Ryan Honeycutt and sophomore guard Freddy Sneed. Against Williams on Tuesday night, the Panthers swat team went to work and all but ensured the team’s first winning season since 2015-16.

Cloer scored 18 points while guard Kai Wade added 14 as the Panthers defeated Walter Williams 66-59 at Panthers Gymnasium. As fate would have it, 66-59 was the exact same score from the first meeting between the two teams on December 16 in Burlington, also won by Orange.

The Panthers are now 13-6 overall, 6-2 in the Central Carolina Conference, tied with Person for second place. More importantly, Orange now leads Williams by two games in the conference standings, plus they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping the season series from the Bulldogs. It all but ensures that the Panthers will host a game in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament next month.

Robinson scored the first field goal off a pass from Honeycutt. Williams’ Milton Turner, who finished with 16 points, responded with a hook shot off the glass, which was the game’s only tie at 2-2.

The Panthers scored eight in a row, punctuated by a 4-point play from Orange’s Xandrell Pennix, who drained a 3-pointer while being fouled by Greyson McCadden to extend the Panthers lead to 10-2. The Bulldogs had chanced to draw closer early, but missed its first six free throws.

Late in the first quarter, Orange’s Caleb Barretto hit two 3-pointers to increase the Panthers’ lead to 18-9. Turner scored on a drive to the basket and was fouled by Darius Corbett to trim Orange’s lead to 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Williams got seven points from Turner in the first quarter to reduce Orange’s lead to Cloer took an airball and went coast-to-coast for a right-handed lay-in with 5:32 remaining in the first half. On the next possession, freshman Mason Robinson blocked a shot by Cam’ron Jones, which led to Cloer scoring from 22-feet to put the Panthers ahead 26-15, which forced Williams coach Tommy Cole to call a timeout.

Robinson blocked two more shots on Williams’ next possession, which led to Williams’ Larry Blount being called for traveling when he went up-and-down after Cloer got in his face on a shot attempt. Malachi Poole’s 10-footer off an offensive rebound by Wade, plus two free throws by Honeycutt stretched the Panther advantage to 32-17.

The Panthers will host crosstown rival Cedar Ridge on Friday night at Panthers Gymnasium.

Women’s Basketball: Walter Williams 50, Orange 34

Walter Williams’ Kamryn Russell had the big shots from downtown as the Bulldogs pulled away from Orange in the third matchup of the season between the two teams.

Russell and Briahna Scott each scored 15 points to lead all scorers as Williams gained revenge on the Panthers. Last month, Orange defeated Williams in the semifinals of the Eastern Guilford Holiday Invitational, a tournament the Panthers would eventually win.

On Tuesday night, the Bulldogs dictated the pace of play and held Orange center Erin Jordan-Cornell to six points, tying her season-low. Senior Katelyn Van Mater led the Lady Panthers with eight points.

Jordan-Cornell picked up two fouls in the opening four minutes, which sent the Panthers streaming upstream for most of the night. With Orange trailing 18-14 in the final seconds of the first half, Russell drained a 3-pointer to send the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 21-14 lead.

The Bulldogs hit seven 3-pointers, with Russell scoring two in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Williams (15-4, 6-2 in the Central Carolina Conference) remains in second place in the CCC.

Orange (10-10, 3-5) travels to Cedar Ridge on Friday night.

Men’s Basketball: ORANGE 66, WALTER WILLIAMS 59

WALTER WILLIAMS–Jaelean Brown 6, Ty Lagana 5, Milton Turner 16, Cam’ron Jones 18, Greysen Mccadden 12, Jordan Harless 2.

ORANGE–Xandrell Pennix 9, Kai Wade 16, Coleman Cloer 19, Mason Robinson 2, Ryan Honeycutt 8, Isaiah Seymour 4, Caleb Barretto 6, Malachi Poole 4.

3-pointers: Williams 3 (Brown, Lagana, McCadden); Orange 6 (Pennix 2, Wade, Cloer, Barretto 2).

Fouled out-none

Women’s Basketball: WALTER WILLIAMS 50, ORANGE 34 

WALTER WILLIAMS–Kamryn Russell 15, Jainasia Bailey 9, Briahna Scott 15, Jordyn Taylor 8, Reagan Averett 3.

ORANGE–Jada Reed 6, Addie Atkins 3, Evelyn George 4, Nikayla Whitted 7, Erin Jordan-Cornell 6, Katelyn Van Mater 8.

3-Pointers: WALTER WILLIAMS 6 (Russell 3, Bailey, Scott, Averett) ORANGE 3 (Reed, Atkins, Whitted)

Fouled out-none.