Saturday, December 29, 2007

Some Bojangle's Shootout-related advice for Charlotte's 49ers

Several national high school basketball recruiting analysts said the top post-Christmas tournament in the country was right here in the Charlotte area.

And the Bojangles' Shootout is beginning to run into a problem.

It's becoming too popular.

I love the site at Marvin Ridge High, just a few miles down the road from the Ballantyne area. The new Union County school is beautiful and boasts facilities as good as any public school I've visited in 20 years of working at this newspaper. It feels every bit like a small college campus.

The 1,700-seat gym, however, gets filled up quick with an event like this. Some fans couldn't get into the championship games Saturday.

It happened at 2,200-seat Charlotte Latin, too.

With the tournament getting bigger every year and attracting more interest, a natural move would be to go to Charlotte's Mine Shaft and Halton Arena.

A key for the 24-team Bojangles' is having two gyms, preferably at one site. I think Davidson's 5,000-seat main arena would be great, but I'm told there's not another gym at that site.

So if I'm Judy Rose, AD at Charlotte, I'm getting in touch with the folks at the Bojangles' and offering up my place for a three-year deal. And I wouldn't charge the folks at Athletes United For Youth a dime. Reason? First the tournament proceeds go to benefit AUY's mission to benefit underprivileged youth in the community, mainly through after-school computer learning centers. So Charlotte would be giving back to the community by reducing overhead for AUY.

Second, Charlotte would get to show off its beautiful arena and facilities to top recruits who are annually coming into the Bojangles' tournament. It's a great recruiting tool and the same reason why UNC and Wake and N.C. State loan facilities to the N.C. High School Athletic Association for state championship events.

And kids talk. If a top recruit like Derrick Favors comes here and likes it, maybe he tells a friend and he tells a friend and maybe -- just maybe -- you land a kid like that who is considering some bigger name schools, but he knows that Charlotte has a certain feel and he's familiar with the school.

If nothing else, it's worth a three-year gamble to see.
Langston Wertz Jr.

Concessions a highlight of Bojangles' Shootout

MARVIN -- I have to give some of the fans a lot of credit for hanging out so long at the Bojangles' Shootout out here at Marvin Ridge High. The town of Marvin, where the school is located, is really like Ballantyne South, but it is still a pretty good haul from some parts of Charlotte.

And I'm seeing fans in the morning sessions still around for evening sessions. They don't want to drive all the way home, as one told me, knowing they want to come back and see another game later.

So they hang around.

You hang around, you've got to eat, right? Luckily for us media types, Mert's Heart and Soul restaurant is whipping up some neat treats like some freakishly good BBQ sandwiches and spicy chicken and dumplings (but some drinks would be nice, guys). For the fans, there's a big Bojangles' truck selling spicy chicken; there's hot dogs; there's ice cream stands; there's hamburgers; and there's some tasty-looking Philly Cheesesteaks being sold just past the arena floor.

My favorite concession item, though, is something called What's Water Ice. The owner swears it is fat and cholesterol free and says it's also non-dairy.

To me, it tastes like frozen yogurt. And it's very good.

And I don't usually like ice cream.

If you're out here, you gotta try this stuff. I just wish I could buy it at Harris Teeter.

Langston Wertz Jr.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Late tipoffs a problem in need of answer

The boys’ game tip-off was at 8:42 p.m.


Last night’s basketball quadruple-header at West Mecklenburg - like most in Charlotte - runs too late into the night. A school night, when kids should be at home.

That 7:15 a.m. school bell isn’t going to ring any later the next day.

Basketball normally begins at 4 p.m. with two junior varsity games, followed by the girls’ varsity game at 6:30 p.m. (rarely happens). Boys’ varsity games are listed as 7:45, but that too would be an early Christmas present if it happened.

It’s too much basketball crammed into one night. If there is an overtime game, or one of those games filled with fouls and foul shots (i.e., clock stoppages), well, everything gets pushed back.

It’s like a rainy day at the airport. Sit and wait. Your flight (or hoops game) will happen eventually.

You just might be sleepy when it arrives.

Do the late start times bother you? What solutions would you suggest?

Post your ideas in the comments section.

-- Cliff Mehrtens

Monday, December 10, 2007

Top stories of prep football season

My top six stories of the high school football season:

1. Independence’s 109-game winning streak snapped.
It had national attention, a huge crowd and it went into overtime before the Patriots lost 41-34 to Cincinnati Elder on Sept. 1. The Patriots hadn’t lost since 2000.

2. Eligibility issues.
Independence had seven players benched because of improper addresses. West Charlotte had one player sidelined, and then its athletics director, coach and an assistant coach suspended. South Mecklenburg’s first playoff berth in 14 years was wiped out, and it had to forfeit all its games.

3. No championship for Independence
The Patriots’ string of seven state titles ended with a 28-17 loss to New Bern, in a game Independence led 14-0. The seven straight championships is a state record.

4. Ardrey Kell
The second-year Knights went 8-5, and two rounds into the N.C. 4A playoffs. Coach Marty Woolbright’s squad jumped to a 4-0 start, and won its playoff opener 31-4 at Roxboro Person.

5. Indy coach Tom Knotts suspended
Knotts was suspended two games - the regular-season finale against Butler and the first playoff - after an altercation with a player’s father following a junior varsity game.

6. Goose poop at Garinger
The Wildcats’ home game against North Mecklenburg on Sept. 14 had to be moved because a flock of geese had dirtied the field. Two weeks later, Garinger returned (the geese had been shooed away) and hosted Hopewell.

Tell me your top stories! Post the ones I've missed in the comments section.

-- Cliff Mehrtens

Thursday, December 6, 2007

NCHSAA director Adams on CMS eligibility

N.C. High School executive director Charlie Adams said he understands why some parents and fans cannot understand why South Mecklenburg and Independence were not punished the same way in recent instances where ineligible players were found.

South Meck had a quarterback living with his grandparents without an NCHSAA-mandated guardianship transfer.
Independence apparently had a student who deceived the school about where he lived.
The Independence student was pulled from the team before the second game of the playoffs. South Meck's season ended before the playoffs began.

"We used to have the same penalty for everything," Adams said. "If you had an ineligible player, you dropped the player and forfeited games he played in. Then the (NCHSAA) board started thinking about this thing and came back and said if player or their parents falsify info and school has done everything they could to check that out, then the penalty should be on kid and not the school or team."

Adams said that's why Independence is contiuning to play.

He said he understands how the South Meck situation came about -- no CMS official told the Sabres quarterback and his family that they needed a legal guardianship transfer to play sports. The family did not ask and South Meck athletic officials didn't catch the error.

"We say ignorance is no excuse," Adams said. "It's about where to draw the line. In the South Meck case, very clearly the person was playing out of unit and the penalty, of course, is that the player is dropped from the team and games you participated in are forfeited and your record then determines if you move forward or not."

The Sabres quarterback played in all 11 games, meaning South Meck's season was done.

"Our understanding was that the South Meck case case was clear cut ineligibility," Adams said, "and what we’ve heard is reports of Independence and West Charlotte are falsification of records by individuals or parents. That's the reason for the two different penalities. I know it’s hard for people to understand why South Meck was treated one way and Independence treated antoher but according to CMS, it was two different cases. Eligibility rests with the (school) unit and the only time we’re involved in it is when the school calls us and reports. Then we tell them what penalty is."
Langston Wertz Jr.