Orange Men’s Basketball

Britt named CCC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year

It’s taken five years, but Derryl Britt has made in imprint on the Orange men’s basketball program.

For starters, his younger players have developer an impression of him. Over the course of 27 games this past season which saw the Panthers journey from Franklinton to Morehead City, sophomore Freddy Sneed created a impersonation of Britt whenever the Panthers turn the ball over that ends with him yelling stomping down the sidelines and yelling “Come on, killer!”

This winter was the one that Britt had waited four years for his team to achieve. The best news, from an Orange perspective, is that the best may still be ahead.

While Britt waits for the academic year to end and summer workouts to start, he has received the highest honor from his peers.

Britt was named the Central Carolina Coach of the Year in a poll by the league’s coaches last month.

This year, Orange went from a 8-17 season in 2021-2022 to a 17-10 season, its first winning campaign since 2016-2017, when the Panthers reached the quarterfinals of the 3A State Playoffs.

That squad six years ago was led by seniors Connor Crabtree and Logan Vosburg. This year’s team was diametrically the opposite in terms of experience.

In the first game of the season against East Chapel Hill, Britt started three freshmen: Coleman Cloer, Kai Wade and Mason Robinson. Sophomore guard Xandrell Pennix and junior center Ryan Honeycutt rounded out the starting five. None of those players were on the varsity roster for the start of the 21-22 season.

Right away, Orange served notice that this season would be different with a win over East Chapel Hill. On November 29, Cloer knocked down two free throws with :7.2 remaining to push Orange past Franklinton 67-66. The Panthers were the only team in the first half of the season to beat the Rams, who went on to a 25-5 record.

Orange scored 103 points against the North Carolina School of Science and Math on December 1, the most points for a Panther team since Britt became head coach. Later that week, the Panthers defeated Riverside for the first time since 2013.

Orange defeated East Wake in the opening round of the South Granville Holiday Invitational on December 28. The Warriors would go on to win the Quad County Conference Championship. The tournament in South Granville was two shots away from being extra special for the Panthers. Orange led South Granville 64-58 with 1:33 remaining before the Vikings roared back with K.J. Green scoring on a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Vikings the win to advance to the championship game.

The next day against Sanderson was even more heartbreaking. The Panthers mounted a comeback before the Spartans hit another shot at the buzzer to beat the Panthers 55-54.

Orange swept the season series from Walter Williams, including its first win in Burlington since the 1980s. Orange reached the state playoffs, where they mounted another comeback that ended with senior Thomas Loch draining a 3-pointer, following by a steal by Wade to give Orange a one-point lead with 28 seconds remaining. The Patriots’ Worth Stack scored on a tip-in for the game-winning basket.

Britt is already making plans for another summertime tournament at Orange in June. While there weren’t many people around to see it, Britt learned last summer that the 2022-23 team would be different. Cloer, Wade and Malachi Poole, among others, played for an Orange team that won the Black Session championship.

As he prepares for his sixth season next November, Britt suddenly finds himself among the longest tenured coaches at Orange. After B.J. Condron’s resignation last month as Orange women’s basketball coach to become the new Athletic Director at Southeast Alamance High School, the only coaches who have been at Orange continuously since Britt’s arrival in 2018 are men’s soccer coach Palmer Bowman, baseball coach Jason Knapp, men’s tennis coach Justin Webb and wrestling coach Spenser Poteat, who replaced Bobby Shriner in 2017.

Editor’s Note: Britt is a color analyst for Orange football broadcasts on 

Orange’s Cloer named All-District first-team after freshman season

Compared from last year to this year, it was a night-and-day difference for Orange men’s basketball. The Panthers had its most successful campaign in six years and the freshman that spearheaded the revival was awarded by the North Carolina High School Basketball Coaches Association.

Freshman Coleman Cloer was named first-team All-District 6 by the NCHSBCA. District 6 is comprised of all public schools in Orange, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Person, Rockingham, Vance, Warren and Caswell Counties. It’s a quirky wrinkle for Orange and Person since the other two counties represented in the Central Carolina Conference, Alamance and Chatham, aren’t included in District 6.

From the time Orange coach Derryl Britt started his summer tournament last June, it was clear the Orange freshmen would be the focus of the 2022-2023 season. Cloer and Kai Wade started all three of the games in the Black Session of the summer tournament, which Orange won after beating Chapel Hill.

By the time the regular season started against East Chapel Hill on November 18, Orange’s starting lineup consisted of Cloer, Wade and another freshman in Mason Robinson, along with Ryan Honeycutt and sophomore Xandrell Pennix. Cloer led Orange with 17 points in his first varsity game, which started a pattern that spanned the whole season.

For much of his five-year stint at Orange, Britt has lacked a post player. He has had several guards with considerable shooting range, the most recent being Jerec Thompson, who graduated in 2022 with over 1,000 points. In Cloer, Britt got the best of both worlds: a 6-6 forward that could fire in 3-pointers from 30-feet regularly.

Cloer also got used to clutch situations early. On November 29, Cloer sank two free throws with :7.2 seconds remaining for the game-winning points as Orange won at Franklinton 67-66. Cloer finished with 22 points against the Rams, who would go on to reach the state quarterfinals against Northwood.

Cloer had 14 games where he scored 20 points or more this season. His only game where he was held below double-figures came against Northwood on December 14, when he was held to nine.

Cloer’s season-high was 35 points against Person on January 6. He had eight double-doubles on the year. His first came against Franklinton, when he amassed 22 points and eleven rebounds. He had 13 points and ten rebounds against Riverside on December 2, which was Orange’s first win over the Pirates in ten years.

Against Walter Williams on December 16 in Burlington, Cloer had 27 points and ten rebounds. He scored 28 points against Eastern Alamance on January 11 in Mebane.

Cloer assisted on Orange’s final 3-pointer of the season, knocked down by Thomas Loch, against West Carterret in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs on February 21 in Morehead City. It was Orange’s first playoff game since 2017, when they faced Northern Guilford in the 3A State Quarterfinals.

Cloer played in all 27 of Orange’s games and totaled 542 points, which is believed to be a school record for a freshman. It was the most wins by an Orange team since the 2016-17 season, when Orange was led by former Richmond Spider Connor Crabtree.

Cloer is the younger brother of Garrett Cloer, the quarterback for some of the most successful Orange football teams in history from 2012-2015. Garrett Cloer went on to help Orange reach the state playoffs several times with wide receivers Patrick Pettiford and Bryse Wilson, along with running back Tay Jones. Garrett Cloer was also a basketball and baseball player for Orange.

This season, Orange finished third in the Central Carolina Conference behind only Northwood, who won the 3A Eastern Regional Championship, and Person. If Orange’s unit can remain intact for next year, the Panthers could be the favorite to win the CCC. Cloer, Wade, Pennix, Honeycutt, Robinson, Malachi Holt, Freddy Sneed, Jackson Barreto and Ryan Moss are all slated to return.


Alumni Update: McMullin leads Sandhills to Region X Championship

Joey McMullin: The Sandhills Community College men’s basketball team captured the Region X Championship on Sunday. The Flyers defeated Oxford College of Emory University 98-84 at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford. McMullin scored 15 points in 20 minutes off 7-of-13 shooting from the field. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. It’s the second straight year that the Flyers have won the Region X title. Sandhills will face Butler Community College of Pennsylvania for the Mid-Atlantic District Championship on Saturday.

Braden Homsey: Homsey became the all-time wins leader in the history of Ferrum College wrestling last weekend during the Southeast Regionals in York, PA. Homsey finished 2nd in the 197-pound tournament, qualifying him for a spot in the NCAA Division III National Championships. In the championship match, Camden Farrow of York defeated Homsey 9-4. Homsey reached the final after beating Cameron Butka of Wilkes 7-5. In the opening round, Homsey scored a tech fall victory over Jaden Markus 16-0. Homsey followed with an 11-5 decision over Brendon Loder of Gettysburg. In the quarterfinals, Homsey scored a major decision over Gable Crebs of Lycoming 10-2.

Jamar Davis: Competing for N.C. State, Davis finished 3rd in the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center in Louisville, KY on February 25.  Davis’ best leap was 7.56 meters. Jeremiah Davis of Florida State won the championship at 8.02 meters. Davis also finished 7th in the triple jump. His best leap was at 15.14 meters. Jeremiah Davis of Florida State won the title at 16.36 meters.

Mary Moss Wirt: Wirt has opened the season playing regularly for the Elon softball team. On February 10, Wirt faced her former Cedar Ridge counterpart, Takia Nichols, when Elon faced North Carolina Central during the Elon Softball Classic at Hunt Softball Park. Elon edged the Eagles 8-7. Wirt played at catcher and went 0-for-2. On February 25, Wirt went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as the Phoenix defeated Northern Illinois 8-7 in eight innings at Liberty University Softball Stadium in Lynchburg, VA. Wirt drove in the game-tying run in the seventh inning when she singled in Payton Swart. Elon rallied from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Huskies. In the sixth inning, Wirt singled in Mauri Murray to trip the Huskies’ deficit to 7-3. Elon is 5-10 and will host East Carolina on Wednesday.

Takia Nichols: Nichols, the all-time home run leader in Cedar Ridge softball history, hit her first college home run for North Carolina Central on February 25. Nichols launched a solo blast in the seventh inning against Long Island University. Nichols has started five games for the Eagles. She started at first base for Central on Sunday in a 5-4 loss to Harvard at Winthrop Softball Field in Rock Hill, S.C. on Sunday.

Tori Dalehite: Starting her junior season at UNC Greensboro, Dalehite has appeared in six games this season for the Spartans, mainly as a pinch-runner. She scored a run against Morehead State on February 19. UNCG is 9-7 on the season.

Lauren Jackson: The Division II Lenoir-Rhyne softball team defeated Lock Haven in the final game of the Bear Bash event in Hickory on Sunday. Jackson, the designate player, went 2-for-3 with an RBI double for the Bears. Lenoir-Rhyne won all three games in the tournament. Lenior-Rhyne is 15-1. They swept a doubleheader from Belmont-Abbey on February 22. In the nightcap, Jackson went 2-for-2 with a run scored as the Bears won 10-0 in five innings. In the opener, Jackson went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in a 10-2 win for the Bears. Through 13 games, Jackson is fourth on the team with a .441 batting average. She has ten RBIs, which is also fourth on the team.

Jaden Hurdle: The Division II Catawba College softball team is 10-6 on the season. Hurdle appeared in a game against Barton College on February 11. It is Hurdle’s first season with the Indians after two years with Patrick & Henry Community College.

Grace Andrews: The Catawba Valley Community College softball team has won eleven in a row. The Red Hawks won four games during the Fast Pitch Dreams round-robin event at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex last weekend. Andrews, who is starting at catcher this year, went 0-for-2 with two runs scored in a 12-3 win over Howard Community College on February 25. She walked twice. Against USC Sumter, Andrews went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. This season, Andrews is hitting .174 with eight RBIs.

Orange men’s basketball returns to State Playoffs, Travels to West Carteret Tuesday night

The furthest east any 3A sports team can go for the 3A State Playoffs is to Morehead City to face West Carteret.

It’s longitude is 76.786, about 13 miles east of Havelock, which has a longitude of 76.893.

While it’s a long drive that the Orange men’s basketball team will make to return to the state basketball playoffs on Tuesday night, it’s one they’re still willing to take.

On Saturday night, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its field of 64 for the 3A State Men’s Basketball playoffs. The Panthers received a #19 seed and will face #14 West Carteret in the opening round on Tuesday night. The winner will face either Northern Nash or Croatan in the second round.

Orange (17-9) will make its first playoff appearance since 2017, when they reached the state quarterfinals. The Panthers’ last postseason win came against Trition on February 25, 2017, a night of mixed blessings. Orange roared out to a 28-2 lead behind a superhuman effort from senior point forward Connor Crabtree. With Orange leading 40-17, Crabtree tore a ligament in his right ankle late in the first quarter after he came down wrong on a rebound. It ended his high school career like a star that burned brightest before it disappeared. Orange lost to Northern Guilford three days later.

West Carteret (17-7) finished 2nd in the Costal Conference behind White Oak. In 2022, the Patriots reached the 3A Eastern Regional championship game, beating Northwood in the state quarterfinals in Morehead City. Fayetteville 71st edged the Patriots 74-70 to advance to the state championship game.

The Patriots lost two starters from last year’s team, but still returned Dylan McBride and Worth Stack to a team that has a wealth of experience. West Carteret has six players who have entered 20 games this Eason. Overall, they have ten seniors on the roster.

That serves as the polar opposite of an Orange team that has been revitalized by youth. Freshman Coleman Cloer has had twelve 20-point games and is already at 518 points, which may very well be a school record for a freshman. Kai Wade, a freshman point guard, has started in 25 of Orange’s 26 games. Junior center Ryan Honeycutt is in his first season as a varsity player, while freshman Mason Robinson is also a regular contributor for a Panther team that just ended a string of five consecutive losing seasons.

The Panthers were eliminated in the semifinals of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament last Wednesday by Person in Roxboro. West Carteret was eliminated in the Coastal Conference semifinals by Swansboro, who eventually defeated White Oak to win the conference tournament.

Swansboro and West Carteret tied for 2nd in the Coastal Conference with identical 7-3 marks.

Overall, four teams from the CCC made the state playoffs, most of whom got tough draws based on various conference tournament championship games across the region jumbling up the RPI rankings at the last minute. Only Northwood, who defeated Person to win the CCC Tournament, will get a home game in the opening round. The Chargers, seeded #1, will host West Johnston on Tuesday.

Person, who appeared set to host a home game in the opening round for weeks, fell victim to an upset in the Big Carolina Conference Tournament Championship. Basically, South Central stole the Rockets’ home game when they surprised Jacksonville on Friday night. Instead, the Rockets will travel to Fayetteville to face Westover.

Walter Williams was the fourth CCC team to make the playoffs. The Bulldogs will travel to Rocky Mount, who received the #12 seed out of the Big East Conference.

Eastern Alamance was the last team out of the field of 64.

On Friday night, Cloer was named to the Central Carolina Conference All-Tournament team in Pittsboro. He was joined by Northwood’s Drake Powell, Max Frazier and Jake Leighton, Person’s Julian Crawley and Lance Clarke.


Orange’s Thomas Loch & Caleb Barreto discuss preparing for the State Playoffs

From the beginning of this season, the goal of the Orange  men’s basketball team has been to make the State Playoffs. Now, the Panthers have achieved their goal after a 17-win regular season, its best total since 2017. Two of the seniors on this Orange squad have helped immeasurably. Thomas Loch has been a member of the varsity team since his freshman year. He played well off the bench as Orange mounted a comeback against Person in the Central Carolina Conference semifinals in Roxboro on Wednesday night. Caleb Barreto joined Orange last fall after transferring from Wake Forest. He scored eleven points in Orange’s win over Eastern Alamance on February 10. Barreto and his brother Jackson have helped coach Derryl Britt develop the deepest team in his five-year tenure at Orange. The Panthers nearly reached the Central Carolina Conference Tournament championship game after rallying from 19-points down against Person on Wednesday. Now, they will venture into the 3A State Tournament, which starts on Tuesday. The Panthers will be on the road for the opening round. 

Person denies Orange comeback, wins 59-54 in CCC semifinals; Barreto scores 12 for Panthers

ROXBORO–The most unlikely comeback started with the most unlikely players for Orange against their neighboring rival.

It was a move so unexpected, so unorthodox and so surprising, it nearly led to the Panthers reaching its first conference tournament final since 2017.

Yet once again, Person found a way to foil Orange, this time in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament semifinal.

Senior Julian Crawley and reserve guard Quante Bowman each scored 15 points as the Rockets (21-4) defeated Orange 59-54 at Rockets Gymnasium. It was the Rockets third win over the Panthers this season.

For the second year in a row, Person advanced to the Central Carolina Conference Tournament championship game, where they will face Northwood on Friday night in Pittsboro. The Chargers easily disposed of Walter Williams 62-45 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.

Person led by as many as 18 points in the first half with a relentless 3-point attack. The Rockets drained eight shots from downtown, including 13 points from Bowman in the second quarter.

Person coach Charles Dacus employed and box-and-one defense focused solely on limiting Orange’s Coleman Cloer, who had three different Rockets defending him on the night. Cloer was held to five points in the first half and Person opened up a 39-20 lead at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Orange coach Derryl Britt inserted Jackson Barreto, a guard who spent most of this season on the junior varsity team. Ask anyone who knows Orange basketball who would be the best player off the bench to jump start a comeback, Barreto probably wouldn’t exactly be the first player to come to mind. Heck, he wouldn’t be the first Barreto to come to mind. Jackson’s brother, Caleb, scored eight points against Eastern Alamance last Friday on Senior Night while Jackson finished out JV season.

Yet Jackson, and later senior Thomas Locke, were chosen by Britt to replace two starters in the third quarter and they clearly made a difference. Barreto scored a career-high 12 points, while Locke came up with several crucial steals and drew a charge against Person’s Isaiah Smith in the fourth quarter, who would eventually foul out with only five points.

“At that time, we needed offense,” Britt said. “We needed to make a comeback. I needed shooting. I knew that Thomas could help space the floor. Jackson is one of the best shooters and heady players we have in the program. Jackson went in and served multiple purposes, to guard Crawley. That might seem like a weird matchup to some people, but we know how smart Jackson is. What he lacks in physical stature, he makes up for in heady play.”

Person was so dominant in the first half, the normally raucous Rockets fans emotionally checked out to start the third quarter. Cloer got Orange out of the doldrums with a 3-pointer to open the second half, then a tip-in off a miss by Xandrell Pennix. Then he drained another 3-pointer to make it 41-28. Barreto came in with 5:12 remaining in the third quarter and didn’t leave, then knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Rockets’ lead to 43-31.

Pennix scored on a strip and steal lay-in at the end of the third quarter to move Orange within ten at 49-39. After Smith opened the fourth quarter with a free throw, Barreto knocked down another 3-pointer. Barreto scored on a transition lay-in off a feed from Kai Wade to make it 50-44, then Cloer drove into the lane and scored off a finger-roll, which forced a Person timeout and the Orange players got a standing ovation from the Panther fans in the visitor’s section.

Suddenly, the relaxation in the Person fan section ended and virtually all of the students watched the final minutes standing in nervous anticipation.

Person struck back with two free throws from Bowman and a stickleback basket from Romello Snow to build its lead to 54-46. Yet Barreto came back with another 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining. Crawley missed a 10-footer, which was rebounded by Cloer, who was fouled by Crawley. Cloer drained both free throws.

Cloer got a steal on the next possession and wound up back at the line after another foul by Crawley. Cloer split a pair to whittle the Rockets’ lead to 54-52 with 2:38 left.

The Panthers had no less than five chances to tie the game in the final minutes. Three finger roll attempts by various Orange players missed. Person’s C.J. Hunt, who didn’t play in the second game against the two teams in Hillsborough two weeks ago, cashed in three big free throws late to put the game away. The Rockets won despite not getting a field goal in the final four minutes. Sophomore Lance Clarke’s 13 points all came in the first half.

Orange will wait for its destination for the 3A State Playoffs. The field of 64 will be released on Saturday. It will be Orange’s first state playoff appearance since 2017.


ORANGE: 9   11   19    15-54

PERSON: 17   22  10   10-59

ORANGE: Xandrell Pennix 4, Kai Wade 11, Coleman Cloer 17, Ryan Honeycutt 6, Malachi Poole 3, Jackson Barreto 11, Thomas Locke 2.

PERSON: Isaiah Smith 5, Lance Clarke 13, Julian Crawley 15, Julian Lunsford 2, Romello Snow 4. Quante Bowman 15, DaeJon Hodge 2, C.J. Hunt 3.

3-Point goals: Orange 7 (Wade, Cloer 2, Poole, Barreto 3) Person 8 (Clarke 3, Crawley Bowman 4)

Fouled out: Person (Smith) Orange-none.

Orange’s Darius Corbett, Kaleb Barnhardt & Isaiah Seymour talk win over Eastern Alamance

The Orange men’s basketball team has advanced to the semifinals  of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament. On Monday night, the Panthers pulled away from Cedar Ridge 83-61 at Orange High Gymnasium for its first home postseason win since 2017. The last time the Panthers captured a postseason victory, it was in the third round of the 3A State Playoffs when they defeated Triton. Orange seniors Darius Corbett, Kaleb Barnhardt, Isaiah Seymour, Thomas Locke and Caleb Barreto started on Friday night for their victory over Eastern Alamance that ended the regular season. Against the Eagles, all five of the Orange seniors scored, including Barreto getting five points. Barnhardt was crowned the Homecoming King last November at halftime of the Panthers’ football game against Cedar Ridge. Corbett was named All-Conference for the Orange soccer team last fall. A Captain, Corbett helped the Panthers reach the state playoffs for the first time since 2017. Isiah Seymour has started at center for portions of the last two years and scored seven points against Cedar Ridge on Monday night. The five Orange seniors will be on the bench on Wednesday night when the Panthers face Person in the CCC Tournament semifinals in Roxboro.