Month: February 2024

Alumni Update: Hench receives national honor for N.C. Sate Club Baseball; lacrosse season starts

Cooper Hench: Last week, Hench was chosen the National Club Pitcher of the Week after he threw two scoreless innings for the N.C. State club team against Campbell. In that stint, Hench struck out all six batters he faced. The Wolfpack won both games over the Camels. While his younger brother has started his career at North Carolina, Hench has played for the N.C. State club team since graduated from Orange in 2020.

Joey Berini: On Friday, Berini opened his senior season with East Carolina. The Pirates had a weekend sweep of Rider at Clarke-LeClair Stadium in Greenville. Berini started all three games at shortstop. On Sunday, he went 1-for-4 in ECU’s 7-0 win. On Saturday, ECU won 7-0 and Berini went 1-for-4 once again. The Pirates won the season-opener 16-2 on Friday. Berini went 1-for-3. ECU has opened the year ranked #11 in the country by D1Baseball.com.

Dante DeFranco:After reaching the NCAA Tournament last year, the Charlotte 49ers started its season against Virginia Tech at Hayes Stadium this weekend. DeFrano served as a pinch-hitter for the 49ers in its 10-0 loss to the Hokies on Friday. DeFranco had a single in his only at-bat with a stolen base. DeFranco started in right field in Virginia Tech’s 10-5 win on Saturday. He went 0-for-2. On Sunday, the 49ers salvaged a game in the series with a 10-5 win. DeFranco drove in a run with a pinch-hit single in the 7th inning.

Jackson Berini: Gaston College swept a weekend series Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute over the weekend. Caldwell is the #5 ranked Division III team in the country in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Berini played in Sunday’s win as a pinch-runner.

Davis Horton: The Rockingham Community College Eagles are 1-9 to start the season. This weekend, USC Lancaster swept two doubleheaders against Rockingham. Horton started the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, a 11-3 win for the Lancers. Horton went 0-for-3, starting at catcher. Horton also started on Sunday, a 10-6 win by the Lancers. Horton went 0-for-3. Last week, Montgomery College swept a doubleheader from the Eagles. Horton went 1-for-4 in a 10-8 loss to the Mustangs. Horton also played as a pinch-hitter in the opening game, which Montgomery won 9-5.

Ryan Hench: The former Orange High pitcher started his career with the #15 North Carolina baseball team on Friday. The Tar Heels swept Wagner at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill. Hench helped the Panthers win three straight conference championships in his Orange career. His freshman year was interrupted due to the pandemic after four games.

Aidan McCallister: After a year at Hofstra University, the former Cedar Ridge 1st baseman transferred to Brunswick Community College. He is now a redshirt freshman and teammates with former Northern Durham pitcher Matthew Lombard.

Chase Finley: The Division II Shorter University lacrosse team has started the season in strong fashion. The Hawks defeated Oglethorpe 12-10 on February 1 in Atlanta. Finley, a former Cedar Ridge goalkeeper, earned the win making 13 saves. Shorter edged Tennessee Wesleyan 13-12 at Ben Brady Field in Rome, GA. Finley made 15 saves to take the win. On Wednesday, Shorter defeated Montreat 11-3 at Pulliam Stadium in Montreat. Finley made 12 saves for the win. Finley finished with 14 saves as the Hawks defeated Centenary College 9-6 on February 12. The only loss for Shorter so far was a 21-17 loss to Malone University on February 10. Finley started in net and made 17 saves.

Cy Horner: The Division III Methodist men’s lacrosse team started its season with a 12-8 loss to Goucher at Monarch Stadium in Fayetteville. Horner, a sophomore, scored the first goal of the season for the Monarchs. Horner had seven shots, four of them on goal, with one ground ball. Methodist with travel to Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach, VA on Tuesday.

Josiah Tisdale: Tisdale, who was a member of the Orange men’s lacrosse team the past four years, started his college career at Methodist.

Tigh Metheney: The former Orange lacrosse midfielder is already playing in his freshman season for Division II Catawba College. In the Indians 16-11 win over North Greenville, Methane saw playing time in the season-opener. Methane also played in Catawba’s 9-7 win over Belmont-Abbey at Alumni Field in Belmont on Saturday. Catawba will travel to Tusculum on Saturday.

Nick Cardone: Cardone, a key defensive presence for Orange lacrosse the past four years, is also a freshman for Catawba College.

Orange Panther of the Week: Andre Hill

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is senior wrestler Andre Hill. This season, Hill won the 175-pound Central Conference championship at Walter Williams High School. It was the third individual championship that Hill won this season. In December, Hill won the championship of the Jim King/Orange Invitational when he defeated Giancarlo Evans of Hough 4-3. He also claimed the championship of the Eagle Invitational in Mebane on December 16. He defeated Zeke May of Western Alamance 14-10 in the championship match. Hill started off 2024 by winning the championship of the Quentin Crosby Invitational at Dudley High School in Greensboro. Hill defeated Bruce Dudley of Southern Guilford 8-3 in the championship match. On Saturday, Hill reached the 3A State Championship match at 175 pounds, wrestling inside the Greensboro Coliseum. On Friday, Hill defeated Mason Kincaid of West Rowan in the state semifinal match. He ended the year with a mark of 47-4 with 30 pins. Hill was also an offensive lineman for the Orange football team the past three years. He surpassed the 100 win mark for his career last month. Andre will graduate in June after a successful career in wrestling and on the gridiron. He is the second straight Orange wrestler to finish runner-up in the 3A State Championships. 

Orange’s Xandrell Pennix & Freddy Sneed discuss win over Eastern Alamance

For the Orange men’s basketball team, the Central Conference regular season started with a wild comeback win in Graham. It ended on Friday night with another wire-to-wire win, this time in Mebane. Cole Cloer scored 31 points as the Panthers defeated Eastern Alamance 79-74 at Tay Jobe Gymnasium. Orange roared out to a 21-3 lead. Sophomore point guard Kai Wade scored seven of Orange’s first nine points. The Eagles, playing on its senior night, made a big charge and actually narrowed its deficit to six points by halftime. Orange junior Xandrell Pennix came up with an incredible three-point play midway through the fourth quarter as he banked in a shot off a behind-the-back drive to the basket while getting fouled by A.J. Weaver. With senior Ryan Honeycutt injured, junior forward Freddy Sneed came up with ten points as the Panthers won the Central Conference regular season championship by three games. Orange will play in the Central Conference Tournament on Tuesday. The top seed, the Panthers will receive a bye into the semifinals and will await the winner of Walter Williams vs. Person. Regardless of the result between Person and Williams, Orange will play at Person High School Tuesday night at 7;30. Orange hasn’t won a conference tournament since February 2016. 

Orange’s Hill pins Kincaid, will wrestle for 175-pound state championship Saturday; Orange’s Crawford wins 100th career match

Andre Hill has survived the Mideast Regional championships and being an offensive lineman for the Orange football team the past three years.

On Saturday, he will try to become Orange’s first state wrestling champion in six years.

At the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday night, Hill pinned Mason Kincaid of West Rowan, the Midwest Regional champion, in 3;40 to earn a trip to the state championship match in the 175-pound tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was Hill’s 25h pin of the season.

Hill will face Brock Sullivan of Union Pines, who finished as the runner-up in the 160-pound championship last year, in the 175-pound final. Sullivan, who won the Mideast Regional championship last week, defeated Kai Reece of First Flight 9-5 to improve to 53-2 on the season.

Hill, who finished 3rd in the 175-pound regionals last weekend at Union Pines High in Cameron, defeated two regional champions on Friday. To start the day, Hill earned a major decision over Landon Pope of Pisgah, the West Regional champion. Hill won the match 12-2 scoring six back points in the first period and conceding only one takedown, which happened when he was leading 11-0.

The last Orange wrestler to win a state championship was Josiah Ramirez, who won the 182-pound crown in 2018.

Last year, Orange’s Anoya Isley finished 2nd in the 195-pound championship match, where he lost to Dylan Smith of Fred T. Foard 10-4.

On Thursday, Hill defeated Kamar Brown of Northside-Jacksonville 9-4 in the opening round. Hill ended the match with six of the last seven points.

In the opening round on Thursday, Hill defeated Kamar Brown of Northside-Jacksonville. Hill avoided a single leg trip takedown attempt in the opening minute to force a restart, but Brown still got a double-leg takedown for the opening points with 43 seconds remaining in the first period. Hill earned an escape on the bottom, then notched a single-leg with four seconds left to take a 3-2 lead just before the opening period ended.

Hill worked from the top to start the second period, but Brown worked a reversal to retake the lead. Hill got fret even the match at 4-4, and nearly earned points with a double-leg but ran of room along the edge of the coliseum floor. Hill dodged Brown’s shot attempt and eventually gained his back for two points to go ahead 6-4 with 33 seconds remaining. Hill almost maneuvered Brown into a pinning predicament as the buzzer sounded. Brown appeared to have injured his neck and was checked on by a trainer between periods.

Hill worked free for an escape from the bottom to take a 7-4 lead to start the third period. He stuffed Brown’s takedown attempt and gained a takedown wrapping his hands together around Brown’s head. Brown had to be checked out again for an injury with 12 seconds remaining.

Orange senior Jared Hutchins, who won the 132-pound Mideast Regional championship, was the second Panther grappler to advance to the semifinals on Friday night. Bentley Sly of Stuart Cramer, the Western Regional champion, pinned Hutchins in 3:27 to reach the final.

Hutchins is now 32-8 on the season. In the opening round on Thursday, Hutchins pinned Gabe Smith of Ashe County in 5:33. Smith led 5-2 with 1:10 remaining in regulation before Hutchins earned an escape, then scored two takedown in the final minute. The last of which led to his 25th pin of the season.

On Friday, Hutchins earned a wild win over Andrew Fucci of Dixon. Fucci led 4-1 going into the third period. Hutchins scored three takedowns in the final frame, including two near fall points with seven seconds remaining that proved to be the margin of victory.

At 126 pounds, Orange junior Braden Crawford reached the 100 win mark in school history. Crawford defeated Takota Tala of Parkland 5-3 in the consolation round, scoring the final points with nine seconds remaining following a reversal. Gavin Nipper of Jacksonville defeated Crawford to eliminate him in the consolation round. Crawford ends the year 33-6 with 23 pins.

Cedar Ridge’s only representative to qualify for the state championships, Kaden Tatro, will not wrestle in the tournament after finishing 3rd in the 165-pound Mideast Regional Tournament. Tatro, a senior, ends his season with a 52-7 record, including 25 pins and 17 technical falls. Tatro concludes his Cedar Ridge career with 159 wins, second all-time in school history. The all-time record holder is still Chandler Collins, who had a career record of 166-31.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Sophia Stinnett

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is junior swimmer Sophia Stinnett. Last week at the 3A State Swimming Championships, Stinnett finished third in the state in the 100 yard backstroke. It was her first medal in the State Championships. At the Greensboro Aquatic Center on February 3rd, Stinnett won two Central Regional championships. She claimed the gold medal in the 500 yard freestyle and the 100 yard backstroke. It was the third time that Stinnett qualified for the state championships. Stinnett first reached the state championships as a freshman. In her sophomore season, she finished 6th in the 500 yard freestyle at the state championships. She finished 11th in the state in the 200 yard freestyle. This season, Stinnett won an individual Central Conference championship for the third time in her career. Stinnett captured the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 5:31.96. In 2022 and 2023, Stinnett won the conference title in the 200 yard freestyle. Stinnett was also part of the relay team for Cedar Ridge that won the 400 yard freestyle conference championship. Stinnett, Quinn McCrimmon, Hala Zafar and Sierra Godfrey captured the championship at 1:47.82. High school swimming season is over for Stinnett, but her club season continues this month and into the spring. This is the third time that Stinnett has earned Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week.

Cedar Ridge’s Hayden Kirk discusses commitment to Averett University

Hayden Kirk is a three-sport athlete at Cedar Ridge. In November, he officially signed to play football and lacrosse at Averett University, a Division III college in Danville, VA. In his sophomore season, Kirk’s defense helped the Red Wolves win a state playoff game over Western Alamance inside Red Wolves Stadium. He has also been a regular for the Cedar Ridge men’s basketball team for the past four years and was honored during Senior Night festivities against Walter Willimas on Tuesday night. He has also volunteered at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for the past four years. When Hayden signed his letter of intent at Cedar Ridge last fall, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood spoke about the contributions that Kirk has made. Kirk has been a wide receiver for the Cedar Ridge football team and plans to play on the gridiron at Averett. He has been a contributor in keeping Friday night lights on at Cedar Ridge after the school didn’t field a varsity football team in 2018 and in 2021. Kirk will conclude basketball season next week, then start preparing for lacrosse under head coach Cole Churchill. The Red Wolves lacrosse season starts on February 27 when they face Northwood, the defending 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional champions, at Red Wolves Stadium.

Orange women swimming’s Katie Belle Sikes, Riley White, Piper White, Zoe Jones & Ainsley Rasinske discuss winning state championships

Last year, the Orange women’s swimming relay team of Katie Belle Sikes, Riley White, Ainsley Rasinske and Piper White claimed the first relay state title in school history. This year, Orange relay teams won two titles at the 3A State Championships last Thursday at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. To start the night, Zoe Jones, White, Sikes and White won the 200 yard individual medley state championship, the first time ever that Orange won the state title in the event. It also finished some uncompleted business from 2023, when Central Cabarrus edged Orange on the anchor leg to take the state title. This time, Piper White edged Central Cabarrus’ Audrey Wolff by eight-hundredths-of-a-second to claim the state title. Later in the night, Sikes, White, Rasisnke and White repeated as state champions in the 200 yard freestyle. Going to the anchor leg, Orange trailed Carrboro, but Sikes swam the final lap of her Orange career and blazed past everyone in the pool to take the state title. It was also the final race for Riley White. This week, White was named the recipient of the prestigious Morehead Cain Scholarship. Earlier in the night, Riley White took the bronze medal in the 100 yard butterfly. She finished 4th in the 200 yard individual medley state championship race. Piper White, a sophomore, finished 7th in the 100 yard freestyle.