Monday, January 28, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Hopewell coach Eric Davis credits Dugger Baucom, Davis’ former junior varsity coach at North Mecklenburg High, for much of the team’s success this season.
Davis, though, could make a pretty strong case for area Coach of the Year honors at this point in the season for his own efforts.
Losing two 6-foot-8 players and a 6-5 forward from last season’s team, Davis retooled the Hopewell offense for this season after a four-hour breakfast with Baucom. Baucom currently coaches the most prolific offense in collegiate basketball at Virginia Military Institute, which led the nation in scoring last year.
The Titans went to a high-tempo offense and trapping defense, and it took a few games for the players to find a rhythm. Since starting 2-2, the Titans are 12-1, with consecutive victories at home against Vance and at North Meck.
Facing a big and physical North Meck team, Davis used long-armed guards Alex Godette and Brandyn Curry to make North Meck’s entry passes into the post as difficult as possible, which stalled the North Meck offense. In the 54-48 victory – Hopewell had been averaging 70-plus – the Titans couldn’t run the fast break as much, but still emerged victorious by getting the loose balls, forcing turnovers and with stifling defense.
It was the first victory at North Meck for the team in school history.
Last season, Hopewell made a playoff run that ended one-point shy of becoming one of the final four teams in the state.
This season, mainly through Davis’ coaching, the Titans could very well do the same damage in the 4A playoffs.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Working on a column for Wednesday's Observer, I ran across a rumor that Starmount High's Victor Davila, a national top 100 recruit, was ready to sign with Charlotte's 49ers until he found out that coach Bobby Lutz didn't have a contract extension at the time and might not get one.
Lutz told the Observer Monday that he's entered into talks with the school about extending his contract.
The rumor goes that Davila couldn't commit to Charlotte if he didn't know who his coach was going to be.
That kind of thinking makes sense. And it's all the more reason Charlotte should lock up Lutz for many years to come.
With a new chancellor and Lutz's 14-16 record last year, I can understand a little hesistancy, but the coach looks headed to a sixth NCAA Tournament in 10 years and North Carolina, the state, is loading up with a lot of players like Davila, a 6-foot-9 power forward who signed with Virginia Tech.
I was told by strong sources that Davila would've gone to Wake Forest before Deacons coach Skip Prosser suddenly passed away. That left his backup choice, Virginia Tech.
Davila's guardian, Donnie Livengood, told me Tuesday afternoon that Davila picked Virginia Tech over Charlotte, Wake Forest, Virginia Commonwealth and Memphis.
Livengood said Lutz's contract situation did not play a role in Davila's choice.
"He was pretty serious with Charlotte," Livengood said. "We'd been there to visit and (assistant) coach (Bobby) Kummer who had been recruiting us, we really respect. Victor liked Charlotte. It's a very good basketball program. They're playing really well.
"Victor, though, had always talked about the ACC. It wasn't the reason (he signed with Virginia Tech), but it was one of the things he wanted to do."
Langston Wertz Jr.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Released Tuesday, Jan. 15
Results of National Basketball Night in Hickory at Hickory HS on January 14
Patterson Prep (Lenoir,NC) 111 vs. North Carolina Tech (Charlotte, NC) 56
Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) 90 vs. Hickory HS (NC) 63
Veritas Christian (Fletcher, NC) 79 vs. Mt. Zion Academy (Durham, NC) 74
David W. Craft Gymnaisium
Hickory High School , NC
Patterson Prep 54 57 111
North Carolina Tech 25 29 56
Patterson Prep- Asprilla 6, Varez Ward 18, Joyce 2, Chris Cupetz 16, Courtney Fortson 10, Johnson-Odom 6, Monroe 3, Mikic 6, Koroma 7, Mathiang Muo 14, Ojeleye 4, Grant Mannion 3, Fenderbosch 2, Matt Simpkins 14
North Carolina Tech- Shawn Foster 13, Hyde 1, Blake Smith 11, Rashad Toney 10, Moore 7, Whiteside 6, Davis 6
Oak Hill Academy 23 22 32 13 90
Hickory High School 12 11 21 19 63
Oak Hill- Mockford 4, Brandon Jennings 25, Bryan Allen 14, Keith Gallon 14, Campbell 2, Howard 3, Prince 1, D. Jennings 6, Glenn Bryant 19, Oliver 2
Hickory- Burgins 6, Younghorse 5, Crutchfield 7, Trevin Parks 10, Ussery 5, Patrick Monroe 10, Middlebrooks 4, Hilton 8, Poole 6, Wright 2
Veritas Christian 23 13 12 31 79
Mt. Zion 18 14 18 24 74
Veritas Christian- Catalin “Bobo” Baciu 25, Jon Ellington 22, Ebert 4, Pickering 5, Narron 1, Sasa Borovnjak 20, Kyles 2
Mt. Zion- Justin Leemow 11, Zubair Muhammad 14, Jared Grady 29, Edwards 2, Dixon 12, Hemby 3, Groves 5
Friday, January 11, 2008
In today's editions of the Observer, I profiled what I believe to be the greater Charlotte area's biggest basketball rivalry, North Meck vs. Vance
I also listed five other rivalries that stick out in my mind. What do you say? Let me know and let me know why your rivalries are better than mine:
1. North Meck vs. Vance
2. Charlotte Christian vs. Victory Christian: Recent meetings in the Bojangles' Shootout championship and last season's game, when the fire marshal had to clear Victory's gym, have stoked this one. The schools' gyms can't handle the crowds anymore. They'll go to Grady Cole Center Jan. 25.
3. McDowell vs. Morganton Freedom: These foothills neighbors have produced some of the state's best girls' teams for years and the boys aren't bad either. Often these meetings determine conference champions.
4. North Mecklenburg vs. Hopewell: Every year the fans try to outdo themselves, in all sports. A Hopewell student renting a plane for a low flyover during football last November wasn't a good idea, though.
5. Gastonia Huss vs. Gastonia Ashbrook: All-time greats Sleepy Floyd (Huss) and James Worthy have helped to spice this Gaston County rivalry.
6. West Charlotte vs. Harding: Ever since all-white Harding played all-black West Charlotte in Mecklenburg's first integrated football game in October 1966, these two have been rivals in all sports.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday night, I covered the Myers Park at Ardrey Kell boys basketball game.
It was a good game and both teams showed why they should advance deep into the playoffs. Myers Park didn't play its best. The (Purple) Knights played well, shooting better than 50 percent and getting a brilliant 20-point, 8-rebound performance from senior point guard Kevin Davis.
Most nights, my job is to write about 350 words about the game and then another 175 or so about my observations from it. Most writers here love the observations part, as I do. It's a chance to stretch your writing legs a bit.
I look for weird things, odd things, fun things. Tuesday I noticed a Myers Park player tugging on the bottom of a Kell player's shorts as they went up the court. I thought it was an odd thing to do, but as the Kell player ran upcourt, he got mad and started pushing the Myers Park kid.
I figured the Mustangs player was trying to get the Kell kid to retaliate and pick up a cheap technical foul in a portion of the game Myers Park could've used one.
I wrote that the next day. I named both players.
I got a call this morning from the parent of the Myers Park player. She said some people mistook what I wrote about tugging the shorts. She said some people were giving her son a hard time about it. It's a tough thing being 17. It's tougher still when you have to deal with additional stuff like that. I get that. I've been there. I have kids going there.
I was pointing out an unusual play, end of story. Normally I'm pretty sensitive to not name kids when I talk about plays that went wrong or catches that cost games. I always try to remember these are kids, however talented, and they have tender feelings and loads of peer pressure. A lot of times when I do feature stories, I will leave out certain details to try to protect those tender feelings. I know how other kids can be.
In this case, I wrote what I wrote and that lesson came crashing back down on me. A Golf Channel anchor named Kelly Tilghman, who played at Duke, came under fire this week because she joked on air that younger PGA golfers should lynch Tiger Woods if they ever wanted to win in Tiger's era. She didn't mean it like it sounded. She was joking, but it sure hurt a lot of people's feelings.
That incident, and mine Tuesday, taught me an old lesson all over again: the written word (and the broadcasted one) have lots of power.
We should always be careful how we use them.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Before I get started, here's the Tyler Hansbrough dunk over a 7-foot-7 UNC-Asheville center Kenny George that everyone is talking about.....
The Tar Heels also got a commitment Tuesday night from Kinston High sophomore Reggie Bullock, who helped his team reach the N.C. 3A championship last season where it lost to Dee Bost and Concord.
Bullock, a 6-foot-6 wing player, joins a long list of players to recent commit to the Tar Heels.
Among high school seniors, North Carolina has commitments from Tyler Zeller, a 6-11 center from Washington, Ind.; Ed Davis, a 6-8 forward from Richmond, Va.; and Larry Drew, a 6-foot point guard from Woodland Hills, Calif.
Among juniors, North Carolina has commitments from brothers Travis and David Wear, two 6-10 forwards from Santa Ana (Calif.) and 6-10 forward John Henson of Round Rock, TX. Henson ranks No. 24 nationally by scout.com. David and Travis Wear rank 27 and 28.
In the sophomore class, the Tar Heels have commitments from 6-3 point guard Kendall Marshall of Arlington, Va., and Bullock. Marshall is ranked No. 6 nationally.
This season, Bullock is averaging 18 points and is a solid outside shooter.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Eligibility issues are popping up again in North Carolina, and this time they do not involve a Mecklenburg County school.
A player from N.C. 4A football champion Wilmington Hoggard was arrested for drug possession over the weekend and gave police an address outside of Wilmington, in the town of Hampstead.
That address is out of the Hoggard district.
Shawn Sidberry's mother lives in Hampstead. She says her son lives in Wilmington with her sister. Both Sidberry's mother and sister told the Wilmington Star News there was no dispute over where the player lives.
But the sister, who lives in Wilmington, does not have legal custody, a requirement that cost South Mecklenburg its season after its quarterback was found ineligible for living in South's district but without a legal guardianship transfer.
A spokesman for the Wilmington Police Department said Sidburry gave the out-of-district Hampstead address to the arresting officer when he was charged with felony possession of ecstasy and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Rick Strunk, associate executive director of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, told the Star News that these residency questions were not likely to result in the state champions forfeiting any games from their 15-0 season. Sidburry was MVP of the N.C. 4A championship.
Strunk cited an NCHSAA nonresident rule that states if an athlete attended an out-of-district school the previous year, he can remain at that school.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
You can click here for the video of the dunk contest from the Bojangles' Shootout, which was won by a West Charlotte player who jumped over two standing teammates.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Cheek has big holiday tournament
Ardrey Kell sophomore Justin Cheek had a great tournament at the First Charter Bank Classic. He shot 17-for-24 from the floor in three games (70 percent) and was 5-0f-8 from the 3-point line. He had 17 points, 19 points and 9 off the bench.
Cheek, whose sister Joy is a former South Meck star who starts for Duke, did all that playing through an injured ankle.
Kell is led by Alex Watkins who is averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds from the small forward spot. Senior point guard Kevin Davis averages 12 points and five rebounds.
Specialist Matt Helikson is 14-25 (48 percent) from the 3-point line in Kell's last four games.....Kell is playing without starter Jordan Darnell who hurt his ankle and has been out for 5 games. Kell (8-4) is 3-2 without him in the lineup.
Bessemer City's Sellers Hot Start
Bessemer City sophomore Janaura Sellers averages 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals per game.
Her team is 5-5.
Concord Girls Hot Start
The Concord boys are unbeaten and the girls are 10-1.
The Lady Spiders lost to Concord Robinson in the first game of the year when star T.T. Belcher, a Western Carolina signee, played only seven minutes before leaving with an injury.
Concord is 5-0 in South Piedmont conference play, and average 74 points per game.
In winning the Northeast Medical Holiday tournament, Concord averaged 86 points and sophomore Nyshia Hammond (15 points, 10 assists per game) averaged a double-double.
Belcher was tournament MVP after averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds in three games.
Salisbury's boys big sweep
Salisbury 's boys upset previously unbeaten East Rowan in the semifinals en route to winning the Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba College.
Salisbury was 3-6 going into the tournament and have now won four in a row. The turning point in the teams' season was the dismissal of its leading scorer and 6-foot-8 Division I prospect for violation of team policies.
In the past six games, 6-5 junior Brandon Abel has averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds, surpassing his season averages of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Hopewell's Curry Gets Offer
Hopewell is 10-3, 1-0 heading into Friday's game at Central Cabarrus. Junior guard Brandyn Curry leads the team averaging 17.2 points, 5.5 reounds, 4.5 assists and 3.1 steals.
During the Bojangles' Shootout last week at Marvin Ridge High, Curry got a scholarship offer from William & Mary.
Hopewell has five players averaging double figures, including Curry; sophomore guard Jordan Downing (13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds); and junior guard Alex Godette (13.1 points, 2.1 assists);
Vance has strong Christmas Showing
Vance's boys finished third at a holiday tournament in Florida. Freshman guard Jacoby Davis (14 points, 3 assists) leads the team in scoring along with senior All-Observer star Anthony McClenny (12 points, four rebounds).
While in Florida, Daryl Traynham a 5-7 sophomore guard and 6-7 sophomore forward DeAndre Tillman drew major recruiting interest from South Florida coaches, Vance coach Will Robinson said. Traynham's family moved to Charlotte from Maryland recently.
Vance plays rival Mallard Creek tonight on the road. Should be an instant rivalry since Mallard was formed last fall with many Vance students.
North Iredell's Morrison Nears Milestone
North Iredell's girls are 7-2 and 5-1 in conference play, losing only to powerhouse Statesville.
Junior Santana Morrison could score her 1,000th career point tonight against East Rowan. Averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds, Morrision has 983 career points.
East Rowan star breaks school scoring mark
East Rowan's boys (10-1) beat South Rowan 71-66 in the Sam Moir tournament third place game.
Star Justin Vanderford is averaging 25 points and broke the school career scoring mark with 30 against Salisbury in the semfinals. He now has 1,357 career points and broke his bother, Alstin's, career mark.
East Rowan starter Trey Holmes missed the Christmas tournament with a broken finger. He returns for Tuesday.
Cannon's Eddie sets hot pace
Concord Cannon sophomore forward Jarell Eddie passed the 1,000 career point mark during a Dec. 11 game against Hickory Grove. Eddie is currently 25 rebounds shy of 700 for his career.
He has led his team to a 10-3 record and was named to the All-Tournament team at the AROD Basketball Classic in Miami last month. He currently has scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Miami.
Fort Mill Boys Rolling
Fort Mill's boys, the defending S.C. 4A champ, beat the state's No. 1 ranked 3A team JL Mann 60-44 in the finals of the Hilton Oceanfront Resort Tournament at Hilton Head.
Fort Mill plays Nation Ford for the first time in school history tonight. Fort Mill has won 17 straight games dating to last season and lost only one game all of 2007's calendar year.
Chalmers Rogers, a 6-7 center, leads Fort Mill, averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds.
York Girls Strong Start
The York (SC) girls are 8-3. The team lost to S.C. 3A No. 1 JL Mann at the Beach Ball Holiday tournament and two S.C. 4A No. 2 Spartanburg. York, ranked No. 8 in the S.C. 4A poll, is ranked for the first time in 4A in three years.
Sophomore Erika Shannon is averaging 17.3 points in her past four games. Senior Nicole Anderson, a 6-3 center, tore her Achilles' four months ago and was expected to miss the season. She's on pace to play early next month.
Hickory Ridge's Respectable First Year
Hickory Ridge's girls coach Tony Walters is excited about his team, a first-year school that is 7-5 overall and 5-1 in its past six games.
Akysia Resper, a sophomore guard, averages 15 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals and 6 assists. Junior Ashleigh English averages 13 pionts, 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
Three of the team's five losses are by six points combined. Two more are to unbeaten Concord.
Sun Valley's Magical Start
Former East Meck assistant Keith Mason led his first Sun Valley boys team to the 10th anniversary Union Carolinas Medical Center tournament championship last week.
Before this year, Sun Valley has never made it to the championship game.
Sun Valley (6-4) has won five of its past seven games and has four players who average double figures.
Lake Norman Captures Holiday Title
Lake Norman Wildcats are now 8-2 after winning the Statesville Record & Landmark Holiday Tournament at West Iredell High School.
The Wildcats defeated the North Iredell Raiders 59-57 in the Semifinals and the Statesville Greyhounds 68-58 in the Championship. The Wildcats were led by three All-Tournament performers.
Senior Point Guard Alex Hayes averaged 7 points and 5 assists throughout the tournament. Senior center Nathan Bowers averaged 18.5 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks.
Sophomore Forward Paul Larsen, who was named MVP of the tournament, averaged 19 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game, and 2 blocks per game.
Larsen is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds for the season and is shooting 70 percent from the floor. He has 8 double-doubles in 10 games.
Concord's Boys Roll On Without Big 2
After graduating all-everything stars Dee Bost and Lance Lewis, the defending 3A champs were expected to fall off a bit.
New coach Scott Brewer has the Spiders off to an 11-0 start after winning the Northeast Medical Holiday tournament over 10-2 Kannapolis Brown.
Concord plays at Marvin Ridge Friday and averages 87 points and is winning by nearly 40 points per game. Four players average double figures, led by senior Danny Nieman (15.7 points, 8.2 assists).
The all tournakment team was from Northwest John Hathcock, from Kannapolis Jacob Neuman, and Jeremy Jones, from Concord Jimmy Drye, and Roger Smith. The Tourney MVP was Danny Nieman.
Langston Wertz Jr.