Month: November 2023

Orange men’s basketball’s Ryan Honeycutt and Xandrell Pennix discuss win at Northern Durham

Life is never easy on the road in high school basketball. Just before Thanksgiving, the Orange men’s basketball team had to battle a humid new gymnasium at Northern Durham, 12 straight fouls called against them in the second half and the loss of their leading scorer in a victory over Northern Durham on November 22. Junior guard Xandrell Pennix drained two clutch 3-pointers, including one with :54 seconds remaining that put the Panthers ahead 57-53. Pennix drained his final two shots from downtown and finished with 14 points. Orange center Ryan Honeycutt led the Panthers with 17 points. He also had seven rebounds. Orange won the first varsity game inside the new Northern Durham Gymnasium. Kai Wade added ten points as Orange improved to 2-0 despite the loss of sophomore Coleman Cloer, who suffered a left ankle injury two weeks ago during practice. Orange suffered a tough loss to Riverside on Tuesday night in Hillsborough, dropping its record to 2-2. The Panthers will play Jordan coming up tonight (Thursday) at Falcon Gymnasium. It will be the fourth DAC-VII opponent that the Panthers have faced this season. Orange defeated Hillside in the opener. will broadcast tonight’s game starting at 7 PM.

Cedar Ridge’s Tatro, Prescod, Rakouskas wins championships at Red Wolf Invitational

A year after losing one of the most successful grapplers in school history, Cedar Ridge showed its depth during its season-opening event.

At the Red Wolves Invitational at Cedar Ridge High School, senior Kaden Tatro captured his second tournament championship at 175 pounds. Tatro, who finished sixth in the state at 182 pounds at the 3A State Championships last year, had a decisive run to the championship that included two technical fall victories and a pin in the final.

Tatro, who finished 54-8 last year, defeated Rodrigo Perea of Green Level 17-1 via technical fall in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Tatro knocked off Micah Frye of Middle Creek 17-0 in the semifinals. In the championship match, Tatro pinned Alexander Laughlin of Athens Drive in 1:55.

For junior Pierce Prescod, the season started with what one may view as a revenge tour. Last year, Prescod went into the 3A Mideast Regionals at 120-pounds with an 42-9 record. After losing to eventual regional champion Omari Figuroa of Eastern Guilford, Prescod faced off against Carson Cori of South Johnston needing only one win to qualify for the state championships. Just seconds into the match, Prescod was penalized for an illegal slam. Cori claimed his back was injured, which led to Prescod being disqualified against an opponent he would have been a favorite against.

In the Red Wolf Invitational, Prescod rolled through the field like a man with a purpose. He scored pins in all three of his matches. In the championship match, Prescod pinned Bearik Bigelow of Asheboro, the #2 seed, in 4:13. Prescod also defeated Fareed Busisou of Athens Drive in 50 seconds of the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, Prescod finished Alexander Gardner of Northern Durham in 1:40.

Ryan Rakouskas, who finished third in the region at 145 pounds last year, captured the championship at 157 pounds. In the championship match, Rakouskas defeated Thomas Gingerich of Green Level 9-3. Rakouskas got the opening takedown 37 seconds into the match, then took down Gingerich twice in the second period to take control of the match. Rakouskas needed only ten seconds to pin Ethan Cohen of Panther Creek in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Rakouskas defeated Bilial Benzemour of Southeast Raleigh in 1:07.

The team championship came down to the very end. Athens Drive managed to hold off Cedar Ridge to take the team title. The Jaguars finished with 178.5 points. The Red Wolves, with six wrestlers who placed, finished with 168 points.

At 190 pounds, Cedar Ridge senior James Este-Wittinger, who qualified for the state championships in 2022, finished runner-up. Este-Wittinger pinned Gabriel Delrosario of Millbrook in 4:38. Este-Wittinger was leading 8-2 at the time of the pinfall. In the semifinals, Este-Wittinger deefeated Person’s Malakai Newman 7-3 n what could be a preview of a Central Conference Championship match. Top-seeded Zair Marjan of Athens Drive pinned Este-Wittiner to win the championship.

At 126 points, Nathan Vendura finished runner-up in his first Red Wolf Invitational. Vendura upset top-seeded Carter Goodwin of Middle Creek 8-5 in the quarterfinals. In the opener, Vendura pinned Mason Winstead of Northern Durham in 5:06. Vendrua pinned Riley Neil of Southern Alamance in 2:39 to reach the final. In a wild final, Christian Neal of Corinth-Holders outscored Vendura 16-13 to win the championship. Venura got a late takedown and had Neal’s shoulders down for back points in the waning seconds, nearly getting the pin for an improbable championship until time ran out.

At 106 pounds, Cedar Ridge’s Favio Jaramillo Espar finished in third place. Espar lost his opening match to McBride Colton of McMichael. He rebounded to win four consecutive matches in the consolation round to earn third place. Espar held off Faysal Busisou of Athens Drive 8-5 in the third place match. In the consolation semifinals, Espar scored a major decision over Simon Hairstead of Apex Friendship 15-5.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Addie Reid

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior middle blocker Addie Reid. Recently, Addie concluded her volleyball career at Cedar Ridge in the third round of the state playoffs with a loss to J.H. Rose. It was a career full of championships for Reid. She was a regular rotation player for the 2021 3A State Championship squad. Against North Iredell in the state title match, Reid had eight kills and two blocks. In October, Reid won her seventh championship with the Cedar Ridge volleyball team when they defeated Orange 3-1 to win the Central Carolina Conference Tournament title. Against the Lady Panthers, Reid had 12 kills and four blocks. In her final three years with Cedar Ridge, Reid had an overall record of 73-13. Reid is a three-sport athlete. Last year, she was the starting center for the Cedar Ridge women’s basketball team. In her sophomore and junior seasons, she served as the goalkeeper for the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team, where she made All-Central Conference last spring. In addition, Reid was named the Homecoming Queen during Cedar Ridge’s football game against Person on September. This season in volleyball, Reid finished third on the team with 180 kills. She led the squad with 54 blocks. As Reid volleyball career ends, her trademark thunderous kills that always ignited the Red Wolves fans, along with her team, will forever be remembered by Cedar Ridge faithful around Orange County and beyond.

Alumni Update: Altieri concludes freshman year in NCAA Tournament

Julie Altieri: The Salisbury Seagulls volleyball team ended its season in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on November 17. Salisbury was one point away from getting swept in the opening round against Williams College Ephs, but mounted a remarkable comeback to win 3-2 at Rockwell Cage at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on November 16 in Cambridge, MA. The Seagulls prevailed on scores of 18-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-10. Altieri finished with 40 assists, 12 digs, seven kills and two aces. In the second round, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps defeated the Seagulls 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18). Altieri had 22 assists, six digs, two kills and one ace. Salisbury ends the season 21-8 and the champions of the Coast-to-Coast Conference Tournament. It was the first time that Salisbury won games in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years since 2011-2012. Altieri ends her freshman year with a team-high 694 assists. She was third on the squad with 225 digs and 31 aces. Altieri also had 87 kills.

Lottie Scully: The Binghamton Bearcats volleyball team reached the championship match of the America East Tournament, where they lost to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County inside Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena in Baltimore on November 18. In the semifinals, the Bearcats defeated New Hampshire 3-2, avenging a loss in the regular season finale. The Bearcats fought back from two sets down to win 23-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-9. Scully, the sophomore setter for Binghamton, finished with 49 assists, 12 digs, one kill and one ace. In the championship match against UMBC, Scully finished with 23 assists, six digs and one kill. Binghamton ends the year 15-13. Scully led the Bearcats with 679 assists. She was third on the team with 199 digs.

Cameron Lloyd: The Bucknell volleyball team’s season ended with a loss to Navy in the opening round of the Patriot League Tournament. The Midshipmen swept the Bison at Davis Gym in Lewisburg, PA on scores of 25-23, 25-19, 25-23. Lloyd had six kills and 14 digs in the final match of her freshman season. Bucknell ends the year 15-11 overall, 11-5 in the Patriot League. Lloyd played in all 26 matches for the Bison this year. She was third on the team with 168 kills and 250 digs. Lloyd has 26 aces and 21 blocks.

Anaya Carter: The Division II UNC Pembroke team had its season end in the championship match of the Conference Carolinas Tournament inside the North Charleston Athletic Center in Charleston, S.C. Emmanuel defeated the Braves 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21). UNC Pembroke went 21-14 overall, 12-5 in Conference Carolinas. Carter played in 15 matches and finished with 26 kills and 94 digs in her freshman year.

Payton Wilson: Wilson was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week for the fifth time this season on Monday. It came after the Wolfpack dominated archrival North Carolina 39-20 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh on Saturday night. Wilson, who received an enormous ovation as he was introduced last on his senior night, led the Wolfpack in tackles for the tenth time this season. Wilson had 15 tackles as the Wolfpack held the Tar Heels to its lowest point total of the season. He also tallied two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception. Wilson was also named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker. He is the first N.C. State player to be named a finalist for the Butkus Award. Wilson concluded the regular season leading the Wolfpack in five different categories. He had 138 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions (tied for the team lead), ten quarterback hits, and two fumble recoveries. He is second on the team with six sacks and also had six pass breakups. The Wolfpack will learn its destination this Sunday. Wilson concludes his career 3-2 against North Carolina with three straight victories. The Wolfpack end the regular season 9-3 overall, 6-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Wynston Brown: Brown spent this season with the Division III Methodist football team. The Monarchs ended the year 2-8, 2-5 in the USA South Athletic Conference. Brown was a quarterback and wide receiver for the Orange Panthers before he graduated in June.

Cedar Ridge’s Moreno wins 120-pound women’s championship at Red Wolf Invitational

Some matches it’s Bach. Some matches it’s Latin Hip Hop. Some matches it’s Kittie, a nu-metal band straight from its peak in 1999.

Regardless of what Cedar Ridge wrestler Zoey Moreno is listening to before a match, she’s among a growing crop of female wrestlers across Hillsborough.

Over the weekend, Moreno celebrated her second individual championship at the Red Wolf Invitational at Cedar Ridge High School. Moreno scored three pins in three matches to take the 120-pound championship. It was Moreno’s first Red Wolf title. Last year, Chapel Hill’s Siena Palmisciano defeated Moreno in the opening round in Hillsborough. Moreno finished third.

On Saturday, none of Moreno’s three matches exceeded one minute. She pinned Maddie Carter of Middle Creek in 13 seconds. In the semifinals, Moreno finished off Aastha Shah of Green Level in 55 seconds. Moreno pinned Adriana Gruner of Northern Durham in only 15 seconds to take the championship.

Last year, Moreno captured the Green Hope Girls Grapple in Cary, winning all three of her matches via pinfall. She pinned Ava Lytle of Wakefield in 33 seconds of the championship match.

Moreno’s wide array of musical influences in prematch preparation goes along with her typical school day. She’s a member of the wind ensemble with the Cedar Ridge band. She plays percussion and has a drum set at home.

Females wrestling at Cedar Ridge has been going on for nearly a decade. Deborah Urban became the first Cedar Ridge women’s grappler. In 2019, Katie Watkins became the first wrestler in Cedar Ridge history to compete for a state championship. In the first North Carolina High School Wrestling Women’s Invitational, Watkins defeated Haley Shipes of West Mecklenburg in a consolation round, but didn’t place.

Women’s wrestling has grown so rapidly in North Carolina that in order to qualify for the State Championships, a competitor must finish in the top four of a regional. Moreno felt she had the confidence to do that last winter. In the Mideast Regional, she pinned Triton’s Jenna Phelps in 1:09. Hoke County’s Jobe Carter defeated Moreno in the quarterfinals. Moreno defeated Ariana Anampa of Green Hope in a consolation round, but fell to Samantha Dedeaux of Jack Britt in the consolation semifinals. She fell one win short of qualifying for the state championships.

“I was very disappointed in myself,” Moreno said in an interview last February.” It wasn’t necessarily like a sad or bad feeling, it was just disappointment because I knew I could have beaten my opponents. The second girl I wrestled (Carter), I didn’t approach that match very well. Because I came in there super strong, but I wasn’t cautious about my moves. I made a big mistake because she was a lot bigger than me, stronger than me. I should have just used my speed.”

Last year’s disappointment led to changes how Moreno trains. She did more cardiovascular work during the spring and summer.

“I’m really hard on myself when it comes to looses,” Moreno said. “Because I know I’m been training this long. It’s pretty much been my life up to this point. So any loss tells me I did something really bad and you should not have done that.”

With a successful start to the 2023-2024 season, Moreno is taking aim on reaching the state championships in February. Moreno is the latest member of a growing breed of female wrestlers. Now, she wants to finish her career on a high note.

“I like wrestling because it’s not something anybody could really do just because they wanted to,” Moreno said. “You have to keep a strong mindset. The grit and power. And I like the fact it’s a confidence booster. I don’t mind being the only female in the wrestling room some days. It’s some ways it’s more special.”