Friday, August 15, 2014

NCHSAA Western Basketball Regionals moving back to Winston-Salem

NCHSAA News Release:

CHAPEL HILL—The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has announced its two regional basketball tournament sites for the 2014-15 season.

                  The Eastern Regional event will once again be played in Fayetteville, while the Western Regional tournament will return to Winston-Salem after a stint in Greensboro. The dates for the tournaments are March 3 through March 7.

                  In the Eastern Regional, games will be held at the Crown Coliseum complex, at both the Crown Arena and Crown Coliseum.  In Winston-Salem, tournament games are planned at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the coliseum annex.

                  “We are pleased to be returning to the Crown Coliseum complex for our Eastern Regional basketball tournament as well as to Winston-Salem for our Western Regional. We are extending the contracts at the two sites for an additional year,” said Davis Whitfield, NCHSAA commissioner.  “The Cumberland County schools have been an exceptional host in the East, and the city of Fayetteville and the Crown complex have worked hard to provide a wonderful atmosphere for our participating schools.

                 “And due to other needs for the Greensboro Special Events Center, the Greensboro Sports Commission,  Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem have once again opened their athletic facilities to the NCHSAA for our event.  In typical Wake Forest fashion, we anticipate our student-athletes will have a first-class experience.”

                  Whitfield also said that the University of North Carolina at Greensboro had been a great host for Western Regional games during the last few years and noted the university’s continuing willingness to work with the NCHSAA.

                  Fayetteville had been an Eastern Regional host city earlier, with the tournament calling Cumberland County home from 1987 through '90. The regionals were held in Greenville from 1990 until the 2010-11 season, when they moved back to Fayetteville, where they have been for the past four years.  Winston-Salem hosted the Western tournament for several years until it moved to Greensboro, where it has been since 2009.

                  Winners through the NCHSAA playoffs eventually advance to regional play, with four men's teams and four women's teams from each classification qualifying. The winners from the regionals advance to state championship games.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Muggsy camp, Country Day soccer to benefit underprivileged children in area

Two local events this weekend and next week will benefit underprivileged youth in the Charlotte area.

-- Charlotte Country Day will host a night of champions Saturday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by Soccer Shots and Dr. Don D'Alessandro of OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Center.

Six area schools are participating: Providence Day, Charlotte Catholic, Country Day, Garinger, Myers Park and Providence. Admission is $5 for fans over the age of 10. Proceeds support medical clinics in the Charlotte area that provide free services to underprivileged neighborhoods and families. 

-- Muggsy Bogues annual back to school camp starts Monday Aug. 11 at Crews Road Rec Center in Matthews. Bogues, a former Hornets point guard, will be in attendance and plans to have several current Hornets also make appearances.

Campers get free gear donated by Muggsy's shoe company sponsor and a catered lunch. Bogues, who will also be Grand Marshall for the Matthews Alive parade Aug. 30, started the camp in 1989. Bogues' non-profit Always Believe foundation is sponsoring 10 at-risk youth to attend the camp.

Information: 704-430-6149

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fayetteville's Kwe Parker the insane dunking machine

In 26 years of covering high school basketball, I've seen a lot of great dunkers. For me, the best I've seen in person is Vince Carter. Gerald Henderson, now of the Hornets, and LeBron James were also pretty amazing in high school.

I once saw former Providence High and UNC star Antawn Jamison jump one foot inside the free throw line -- in a game -- and throw one down left-handed (Jamison is a rightie).

But there's a kid playing right now who will give any of them a run for their money.

Fayetteville's Kwe Parker impressed me catching alley-oops from teammate Dennis Smith as a 9th grader when Parker and Smith were teammates at Fayetteville's Trinity Christian High. I've seen Parker make some absolutely silly dunks in warm-ups before Trinity Christian games and I've seen him make a few in games that made you look at your neighbor and shake your head ("Did you see that?").

Smith, a 6-2 junior point guard, has gone onto become one of the nation's top 10 in his class and one of North Carolina's best three players, period. Parker has become one of the most famous players in his class because of his unique jumping ability. A high major Division I recruit, Parker will play at High Point Wesleyan this season, leaving Smith but joining another top national recruit, 6-9 junior Harry Giles.

Here is a new video of Parker dunking (the right-hander nearly touches the rim with his head before tossing in a left-handed tip dunk that would win many a dunk competition).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Concord First Assembly's O'Donnell commits to Virginia Tech

O’Donnell commits to Virginia Tech

Concord First Assembly (CFA) junior wide receiver Conner O’Donnell verbally committed to play at Virginia Tech Friday night, according to his father Geoff O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was the first Virginia Tech commit for the class of 2016, giving his commitment to Virginia Tech assistant, Shane Beamer, also the son of Hokies’ head coach, Frank Beamer. He also had offers from UCLA, Mississippi State and Akron with interest from most of the schools in the ACC, Big 12, SEC and more.

O’Donnell recently transferred to CFA from SouthLake Christian where he played for the elder O’Donnell, helping the Eagles to a NCISAA Division III state championship last season.

O’Donnell had 48 catches for 1,308 yards (27 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns for SouthLake Christian last season earning all-state and all-Lake Norman News’ honors in the process.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Major coaching shakeup at Ardrey Kell High

There has been a major coaching shuffle at Ardrey Kell High School:

-- After helping open the school eight years ago, athletics director Cheryl Feeney is resigning. Under Feeney’s leadership, Ardrey Kell won five straight Wachovia Cups for athletic excellence and quickly developed one of the area’s top overall sports program. The school is currently accepting applications for her replacement, via principal David Switzer.

-- After a year at Charlotte Latin, volleyball coach Zoe Bell is returning to Ardrey Kell, which she led to a N.C. 4A state championship in 2012.

-- Brian Thompson, a member of the Winston-Salem Parkland powerhouse teams, is the school’s new wrestling coach. He was a four-year starter and captain at UNC-Pembroke.

-- Junior varsity girls basketball coach Jeff Buseick is the new varsity girls coach. Rachel Isenhour is the new cheerleading coach. She was junior varsity coach last year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

All-Meck football star, Clemson recruit Van Smith transfers from West Meck to Hough

All-Mecklenburg football player and Clemson recruit Van Smith has transferred from West Mecklenburg to Hough, his father told the Observer Friday.

Van Smith Sr., who was defensive coordinator at West Meck for three seasons, said his family has moved into the Hough district. He said the family wanted to live near the lake. Smith Sr. said his son was looking forward to the challenge of joining a team that was 10-2 last season and is expected to challenge Mallard Creek for a MECKA 4A conference championship this fall.

"Van is a competitor," Smith Sr. said. "I know he has to go there and compete. The plan is to graduate early (in December), so he has to go through one semester there and start his collegiate career at Clemson if all goes well."

ESPN ranks Smith as the No. 16 player in the class of 2015 in North Carolina. Smith is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound junior who plays multiple positions. He's being recruited as an athlete. He had scholarship offers from Duke, Kansas State, N.C. State, Penn State and Vanderbilt, among others.

Van Smith Sr. said he would continue to work at West Mecklenburg, but would not return as a coach.

"I've coached for 25 years," he said. "It's time for me to be a dad."

West Mecklenburg coach Jeff Caldwell said losing Smith would hurt.

"It's a big loss," said Caldwell. "It's a big change to lose a kid like Van. That's the kind of kid that doesn't come along but every so often. He's always positive, never a problem. He's a got a great personality. He's a role model. He gets along great with kids here, there's no tension (about the move). He still loves his teammates. It was a family decision."

Caldwell said his team would return five offensive starters and three on defense from last year's 9-3 team. He graduated two major college recruits in QB Jalan McLendon (N.C. State) and Shaun Wilson (Duke). Eight other West Mecklenburg seniors have signed with colleges.

Caldwell has hired former Providence Day assistant Ben McGarrity to be his new defensive coordinator. Another former Providence Day assistant, Andy Kiker, will join the staff to coach the defensive line. Former Olympic assistant Zach Griffin will coach offensive and defensive lines.

"We've got some positive momentum here and we want to keep it going," Caldwell said. "We've got a lot of good athletes and some of them played varsity last year but didn't have to start because of the guys we had, but they played good minutes and now they get to show what they can do. I feel really good about the winter and spring we had as far as lifting and putting things together. We're moving forward."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Alexander Central's Vada Sherrill named NC softball player of the year

CHICAGO (June 5, 2014) — In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Vada Sherrill of Alexander Central High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year.  Sherrill is the second Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year to be chosen from Alexander Central High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Sherrill as North Carolina’s best high school softball player.  Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award announced in June, Sherrill joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Alicia Hollowell (2000-01, Fairfield HS, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Angela Tincher (2002-03, James River HS, Va.) and Kenzie Fowler (2006-07, Canyon del Oro HS, Ariz.).

The 5-foot-8 junior second baseman has led the Cougars to a 33-0 record, a No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and a berth in the Class 4A state finals against Cape Fear, scheduled for June 6. Entering the state championship series, Sherrill was hitting .555 with three home runs, 40 RBI and a state-record 59 runs scored. The North Piedmont Conference Player of the Year and an All-State selection, she has also contributed 17 doubles, three triples and 48 stolen bases in 50 attempts.
Sherrill has maintained a 3.94 GPA in the classroom. A talented singer and a devoted member of her church youth group, she has volunteered locally on behalf of a nursing home and a food pantry.

“Sherrill is a phenomenal leadoff hitter,” said Carlee Carpenter, head coach at North Lincoln High. “She not only does a great job of getting on base, but nine times out of 10, when she gets on, she will score. She also drives in runs as well or better than most clean-up hitters. She’s the total package.”

Sherrill will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

Sherrill joins recent Gatorade North Carolina Softball Players of the Year Lexi Shubert (2012-13, Fred T. Foard High School), Lexi Davis (2011-12, Porter Ridge High School), Chelsea Wilkinson (2010-11 & 2009-10, Alexander Central High School), Tisha Mahon (2008-09, North Davidson), Chelsea Leonard (2007-08, Central Davidson), and Ashton Ward (2006–07, Butler) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jason Grube named new boys basketball at Hough High

Jason Grube, who led East Mecklenburg to the 2008 N.C. 4A state boys basketball championship, is the new head coach at Hough High.

Grube won his 200th game in January 2013 and has a career record of 218-164. His 2013-14 Eagles team finished 14-13.

At Hough, Grube takes over for Justin Batts, who resigned to pursue a graduate degree.

Batts was selected the Observer's coach of the year for its All-Lake Norman area boys team for the 2013-14 season. Hough finished the season 22-6 and won the conference championship in the MECKA 4A, perhaps the toughest conference in North Carolina.

In the 2012-13, Batts led the Huskies to the school's biggest win, a N.C. 4A sectional championship win over heavily favored West Charlotte and then All-American center Kennedy Meeks to reach their first N.C. 4A Western Regional.

Next season, Hough is expected to return 6-8 forward Luke Maye, a high major Division I recruit. Maye made the All-Observer team for the second time this season.

Hough athletics director Masanori Toguchi said the school has also named former boys assistant Robert Ruthenburg as its new girls coach.

Read more here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hough soccer stops Myers Park in three overtimes to make history

Hough's nationally ranked girls soccer team made history Tuesday night in the N.C. 4A state semifinals.

The Huskies (24-0-2) beat Myers Park in the first sudden death overtime, 2-1 on a header by Alex Denny with 74 seconds left. Hough made its third straight N.C. 4A state championship game, a first for Mecklenburg County girls 4A team.

The teams played two 40 minute halves, two 10 minute overtimes and nearly all of the first of two sudden death five-minute periods.

Myers Park lost for the third time to Hough this season. The Mustangs (23-3) were unbeaten against everyone else. Myers Park is 0-6-1 all time against Hough.

Hough will face unbeaten Panther Creek (23-0-1) in Saturday's state final in Raleigh. Hough is ranked No. 1 in the N.C. 4A soccer coaches poll. Panther Creek is No. 2.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

SoMeck 8 all-conference softball team

SoMeck 8 All-Conference softball

Hannah Davis, Haylee Ewert, Jessey Haasl, Erin Powers, Sterling Strickland, Ardrey Kell; Samantha Bates, Venus Gonzalez, Lori McCoy, Brooke Sanford, Lauryn Whitted, Olympic; Wyeth Folmar, Haley Reid, Kim Miramontes, Providence; Carrie Eberle, Callie Wiese, Charlotte Catholic; Jordan Harmon, Stephanie Mortensen, South Meck; Megan Hooper, Jill Sprague, West Meck; AJ Jenkins, Berry.

Player of the year: Grace Beatty, Olympic

Coach of the year: Rachel Dorr, Olympic