Cedar Ridge High School

Cedar Ridge baseball’s Cates, Finnegan, McGuffey, and Aitkin named to All-Central Conference team

Following a season where the Cedar Ridge baseball team made the state playoffs for the third straight year, four Red Wolves were named to the All-Central Conference team.

Senior pitcher/utility man Mason Cates, junior Quinn Finnegan, sophomores Nick Aitkin and Ian McGuffey were honored after a vote of Central Conference coaches.

Cates, who committed to Catawba Valley Community College last winter, opened the Central Conference season by earning a win over Walter Williams in Burlington on March 12. Cates threw five innings with five strikeouts as the Red Wolves defeated the Bulldogs 7-6. In addition, Cates had an RBI single in the fourth inning. In the first inning, he had an RBI triple that reached the right field gap as Cedar Ridge stormed out to a 2-0 lead.

Cates also earned the save in a win at Chapel hill on April 24.

Against Orange in the state playoffs on May 7, Cates slammed a two-run homer over the centerfield fence that gave the Red Wolves a lead that would carry through for almost the entire night. Cates final game as a Red Wolf was one of his very best. he went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. In addition, Cates had a two-run double in the opening inning of a 15-5 win over Jordan-Matthews on March 13.

Cedar Ridge was one of only two teams from the Central Conference to beat Williams in Burlington this season.

Finnegan, in his third year as a starter, earned the save against Williams. He threw four shutout innings in a win over Chapel Hill at Tiger Field in April. Finnegan, who often started in right field when he wasn’t pitching, laced an RBI double. Later, John Grove would drive Finnegan in for a 3-2 win. It was a victory that paved the way to a six-game winning streak to conclude the regular season.

Against Eastern Alamance on April 19, Finnegan had a season-high five RBIs  in a 12-6 win in Mebane.

Ian McGuffey hit a walkoff single to help Cedar Ridge defeat Person March 19 in Hillsborough. The Red Wolves trailed 4-1 going into the seventh inning, but Cedar Ridge rallied to hand Person what was its first loss of the season. McGuffey wound up earning the win on the mound, striking out four over two shutout innings.

On Senior night against Western Alamance on April 26, McGuffey earned another win on the mound, allowing only two hits across six-plus innings as the Red Wolves defeated the Warriors 3-1. McGuffey also drove in Cedar Ridge’s opening run with an RBI line drive single down the left field line. In a 13-5 win over Carrboro on May 1, McGuffey had two RBIs.

Aitkin, the younger brother of former Cedar Ridge three-sport athlete Olivia Aitkin, threw three-and-one-thirds innings of shutout baseball in a 2-1 win over Western Alamance in nine innings at Elon. Aitkin, who played regularly as a freshman, often started at shortstop. Aitkin also scored the first run in the state playoff win over Orange during the Cates home run. Aitkin filled many roles for a Cedar Ridge team that made the state playoffs in a deep league. All seven teams from the Central Conference made the state playoffs.

After a disappointing start to April, Cedar Ridge rebounded and played its best baseball of the season during May. The Red Wolves started to turn the tide with its victory over Eastern Alamance on April 19, its third straight win over the Eagles in Mebane. From there, Cedar Ridge swept a two-game series against Western Alamance, including a marathon win in Elon that went ten innings. In the final week of the regular season, they defeated Carrboro, who claimed the #12 seed in the state playoffs, and Knightdale.


Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Nikhil Agans

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior swimmer Nikhil Agans. In February, Agans finished seventh in the 200 yard freestyle during the 3A State Swimming Championships at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. Agans also finished eighth in the 100 yard freestyle. In January, Agans won two Central Conference Championships at the Orange County Sportsplex. He earned the gold medal in the 100 yard freestyle, setting the school record of 1:51.70. He also teamed with Phillip Cauwels, Jacob Olmstead and Christopher Seawell to win the 200 yard freestyle relay. In 2023, Agans finished fifth in the 100 yard freestyle in the 3A State Championships. In February, Agans finished third in the 200 yard freestyle at the Central Regional Championships in the Greensboro Aquatic Center. He also finished third in the 100 freestyle. Agans has been the most consistent male swimmer for Cedar Ridge swimming the past four years, qualifying for the state championships three times. He has made All-Central Conference each of the past three years. In 2023, Agans won the conference championship in the 200 freestyle He broke two school records during his stint with the Red Wolves. Nikhil will graduate next month during a ceremony at Red Wolves Stadium after making his mark in the swimming pool for four years.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Nikhil Agans

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Softball Alumni Update: Dalehite ends career at UNCG in Southern Conference Tournament

Tori Dalehite: UNC Greensboro ended its season one game short of reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans lost to Chattanooga 5-0 in the Southern Conference championship game at UNCG Softball Stadium in Greensboro. In her final game, Dalehite had an RBI off a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning that narrowed the Mocs lead to 4-2. She also scored in the seventh inning off a single by Brooklyn Maxwell. Dalehite started all four games in the Southern Conference Tournament, including the opener where she scored a run off a bases-loaded walk in the first inning in a 13-5 win over Samford. This season, Dalehite was third on the team with a .302 batting average. She played in 51 games, starting 42. She finished with four home runs and 22 RBIs. Dalehite ends her career with 123 games played, a .250 batting average. Dalehite reached the NCAA Tournament in her freshman year. She will start work at Emerge Orthopedic while applying to physical therapy school next fall.

Mia Davidson-Smith: The all-time leading home run hitter in Southeastern Conference history is in her first season with the Denso Bright Pegasus of Japan’s Diamond Softball League, the most storied professional softball league in the world. Through 12 games, Davidson is hitting .241 with two home runs and six RBIs. Denso is in fifth place in the East District with a 6-8 record. The Pegasus are five games behind the Bic Camera Takasaki Bee Queen for first place. Davidson will also participate in Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby X this summer. The competition will have teams competing in groups of three, with each team featuring a former Major League star, a women’s baseball player or softball player and a local baseball player. Home Run Derby X will start in Fort Wayne, IN on August 10, Alburquerque, NM on August 23, Nashville, TN on August 31, and Durham Athletic Park on September 7th. However, Davidson won’t play on the Durham date because she will return to Japan at that point.

Carson Bradsher: Bradsher was the only former Hillsborough product to reach the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament this year. South Carolina Upstate won the Big South Tournament and was sent to the Tuscaloosa Regional, where the Spartans lost to Alabama and Clemson. This season, Bradsher played in 12 games and went 3-for-4 with six runs scored. South Carolina Upstate went 30-23, 13-5 in the Big South. The Spartans defeated Winthrop to win the Big South championship.

Takia Nichols: North Carolina Central came up just short of winning its second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship. Morgan State eliminated the Eagles in an elimination game on May 10 in Norfolk, VA. Central finished the year 20-36, 14-7 in the MEAC. Nichols, a rising junior, played in 40 games. She started 34 and hit .282 with one home run and eight RBIs.

Lauren Jackson: The Lenior-Rhyne Bears reached the Division II Women’s College World Series for the first time ever this season. The Bears’ season came to an end on Wednesday when they fell to the University of Texas-Tyler 5-2 at Soldier’s Creek Park in Longwood, FL. The Bears won the Southeast Regional championship, beating Wingate in three games in a best-of-three series. This season, Jackson played in 32 games, starting 20. She hit .241 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

Ava Lowry: The Division III North Carolina Wesleyan softball team ended the season 22-19, 11-7 in the USA South Conference. After a third place finish in the USA South, the Battling Bishops were eliminated in two games in the conference tournament. In the final game of the season against Greensboro, Lowry went 3-for-3 with a double, but the Pride won 3-0. Lowry hit .302 this season. Starting all 29 games she played, Lowry had one home runs and 16 RBIs.

Kelsey Tackett: In her first season with N.C. Wesleyan, Tackett played in two games.

Grace Andrews: Carolina University’s season ended in the South Region of the National Christian College Athletic Association South Region Tournament in Augusta, GA on May 9. The University of Fort Lauderdale defeated the Bruins 5-0 to end the season. Andrews started at shortstop in all four games in the regional. In a 9-0 win over Trinity Baptist on May 8, Andrews went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a double. Andrews hit a home run, which turned out to be the game-winner, in the Bruins 5-4 win over Paine College on May 7. Andrews’ two-run blast in the fifth put Carolina ahead 5-2. Andrews, a junior, hit .356 this season, which was the fourth-highest average on the team. She had two home runs and 19 RBIs. Carolina finished 24-20 this season.

Breezy Foster: The Wake Tech softball team finished the year 15-22, 11-16 in Region X of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Foster played 33 games and had a .149 batting average with five RBIs. The win total was a eight-game improvement from last year, when Wake Tech went 7-27. The 15-22 record was the best mark for Wake Tech since records started being kept by the school in 2016.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Kimber Shambley

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is junior first baseman Kimber Shambley. This season, Shambley led the Red Wolves in home runs and RBIs. She hit eight home runs and 34 RBIs. In Cedar Ridge’s final home game of 2024, Shambley hit a walkoff home run to defeat Western Alamance 7-6. It was the first time Cedar Ridge has defeated Western Alamance since the two teams became conference rivals in 2022. Shambley also had a three-run homer in the Red Wolves 13-4 win over Northwood in Pittsboro on April 25. She also had a three-run homer against Eastern Alamance on April 23 in Mebane. In an 8-6 win over Person on April 12 in Roxboro, Shambley had a two-run single. Last fall, Shambley announced that she would play for Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. The daughter of Kevin and Missy Shambley, Kimber hit .449 as the Red Wolves reached the state playoffs for the third straight year. At one point this year, Shambley had a four-game home run streak, starting with a dinger in a win over Person in Hillsborough on March 19. She followed with homers against Walter Williams, Southern Alamance and Orange, which came in the first inning at Panther Field and gave Cedar Ridge an early lead. Next year, Shambley will be a senior leader for a more experienced squad ready to move upward in the Central Conference.

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Kate to Katie: Paulakonis’ two goals leads Cedar Ridge women’s soccer past Richlands 3-1 for 1st home playoff win since 2005

There have already been plenty of remarkable achievements for the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team this year.

They now have 14 wins, more than the 2018 squad that had freshman Ivy Garner, who now plays at Liberty University.

On Monday night, the Red Wolves won its first home playoff game since 2005.

Junior Katie Paulakonis scored two goals in the opening eight minutes as the Red Wolves defeated Richlands 3-1 at Red Wolves Stadium. Freshman Kate Finnegan assisted on the opening two goals.

The Red Wolves, seeded #16, will face conference rival Western Alamance in the second round in Elon. The Warriors defeated another Central Conference team, Walter Williams 6-2 on Monday.

Cedar Ridge’s last home win in the state playoffs came back in 2005 when they were a 2A team. They defeated Durham School of the Arts 2-0 to move into the state quarterfinals, where they fell to Western Guilford. That Red Wolf team finished 16-1-1.

This Cedar Ridge team is now the most successful team since that squad from 19 years ago.

Much of the credit goes to first-year head coach Sam Semerzier, who now had the Red Wolves on a four-game home winning streak.

“Given the passion of this team, I thought this was possible at the beginning of the year,” Semerzier said after Cedar Ridge’s win over Williams last week, which ended the regular season. “They had the thirst to thrive. They had the urge to win from the first time I met them. Everything that was burning in their hearts in coming to life now.”

Cedar Ridge’s last playoff win came in 2018, when they defeated West Carteret 3-0 in Morehead City.

The Red Wolves scored on its first possession just 80 seconds into the game. As the Wildcats tried to mount an attack, centerback Adelynn Nasseri cut off a pass and cleared the ball upfield to Kate Finnegan. As Paulakonis went on a mad dash past the midfield line, Finnegan kneed the ball past a Wildcat midfielder and directed a gorgeous longball ahead. Paulakonis’ won a race against Richland centerback Ester Zapata and had only goalkeeper Abbigail Kaestner in front of her. Paulakonis’ dribbled around Kaestner and, with a tight angle, directed the ball towards the net with her left field. The ball rolled tenuously along the line before it crossed over just as it tapped the far post.

Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Ellamarie Perel stopped an immediate response from 20 yards away by sophomore Kamrey Watkins, who finished the season with 34 goals.

The Red Wolves would strike again only three minutes later when Paulakonis took a deep throw-in from midfield and banked it off Finnegan’s corner went directly into the nine-yard box, where Paulakonis curved through unmarked and sent a half-volley directly to the back of the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 35:23 remaining in the first half.

Paulakonis nearly had a hat trick on a free kick knuckleball from 23 yards away with 21:30 remaining in the first half that nearly cleared Kaestner’s head below the crossbar, but it sailed over the net.

Watkins provided the Wildcats in the best chance in the opening 40 minutes when midfielder Torrie McAllister stripped the ball away in Richlands’ attacking end and fed Watkins, who cut across midfield and got past Natasha Buchler-Fosado, but Perel stopped a line drive from ten yards away. With 5:42 remaining, Watkins took a long counter pass, but Rachel Alverson raced her down and squared up. It led to a long shot by Cadence Brown that missed wide. Watkins fired a 21-yard heave in the waning minutes that led to Perel’s fourth save.

Watkins had the forest serious attempt in the second half when she took a long clearance pass following a Cedar Ridge free kick, but Alverson ran her down and conceded a corner. The subsequent cross was cleared by Nasseri.

Paulakonis was fouled just outside of the box with 29:45 remaining in regulation, but her shot from 19 yards skipped off the top of the crossbar, the Red Wolves ninth shot.

The Red Wolves earned its third goal with 19:34 remaining a throw-in by Finnegan. Paulakonis bounced the ball off her chest and it rebounded to Celine Galla, who shot off a bounce inside the box went off Kaetner’s hands, then the crossbar. On the rebound, Galla jumped and tapped the ball off her head into the net and was immediately mobbed after her first playoff goal.

Richlands earned a penalty kick after a foul on Cedar Ridge in the box. Facing off against Abigail Proffitt, Perel made a diving save to the left, leading to another celebration from her teammates. Immediately afterwards, Brown sent a corner kick that was headed in by Watkins for the only Wildcats goal.

Perel finished with nine saves.

Cedar Ridge women’s soccer seniors Rachel Alverson, Natascha Buchler-Fosado, Isabella Warren & Ella Streilein discuss Senior Night win

There was a rainbow that appeared midway through the Cedar Ridge women’s soccer team’s Senior Night game against Walter Williams. It turned out to be a perfect symbolization for the best Cedar Ridge women’s season in 18 years. The Red Wolves got four goals from junior Katie Paulakonis, including the game-winner that broke a 3-3 tie in the second half. Paulakonis would score again in the final minute to win 5-3 and complete the regular season 12-6-1 under first-year head coach Sam Semerzier. It’s the most wins for Cedar Ridge in a season since the 2005 team, which finished 15-0-1. Captain Rachel Alverson has been a versatile presence along the Red Wolf back line. Alverson’s volleyball teammate, Natasha Buchler-Fosado, played her first season of soccer at Cedar Ridge this year. Isabella Warren and Ella Streilein were also valuable performers for the Red Wolves this year. Now, Cedar Ridge is preparing for the state playoffs for the first time since 2019. It isn’t out of the question that the Red Wolves could host a game in the state playoffs. After its win over Williams, Cedar Ridge has an RPI of #15. The Red Wolves will enjoy the rest of the week off and prepare for the release of the field of 64 brackets later this week.

Cedar Ridge soccer seniors Rachel Alverson, Natasha Buchler-Fosado, Ella Streilein & Isabella Warren

Uploaded by Jeff Hamlin on 2024-05-07.