Monday, April 28, 2008

Charlotte Christian closes in on title

Charlotte Christian is this season’s biggest non-surprise in high school baseball.

The Knights (21-7) are rolling through the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association, and are 5-1 in conference. They can clinch the league title with a home victory against Charlotte Latin on Tuesday.

Latin (5-14, 3-3) is two games behind with three games left. The math is simple: Christian has to win one of the three to snag the conference title.

Winning titles is nothing new for the Knights. They’ve won the past six NCISAA championships, and eight in nine years.

Coach Greg Simmons directs a well-tuned program that is expected to win, and it does. That might be lofty expectations for new players, but they’re exposed to the tradition early on.

This year’s squad is a heavyweight contender. The pitching is strong with Mason Bradley (6-2), Luke Bard (6-2) and Andy Clifford (4-1).
Scott Glover is hitting a team-high .440, with 19 RBIs and 33 hits. Ty Linton, Adam Hill and Bard have been steady hitters, too.

Charlotte Christian will play at Latin at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and host Latin at 7 p.m. Friday to conclude the CISAA schedule.

The conference tournament will be Monday and Tuesday at Charlotte Christian. The state private-school playoffs begin May 10.
-- Cliff Mehrtens

Friday, April 25, 2008

Q&A: Football champs in '08?

Langston Wertz Jr.'s Q&A is moving to the Prep Insiders blog. You can email questions to lwertz@charlotteobsever.com or post replies to this blog entry by clicking on comments link below. Langston will pull those questions and answer them periodically.


Q. Langston, give us your predictions on SW4A and MECA football for the oh-eight please. -- Anonymous

A. Hmm, good question. I think the ME-CA 7 could be wide open. The West Charlotte Lions, the defenders, should have a lot of their talent coming back, but I'm just not sure how things will shake out once the new eligibility rules are in place in terms of who will end up where. I know coaches are talking about all the changes in personnel that could occur.
But on the face of it, I'd pick the Lions as the early favorites. After that, it's a jumble. West Charlotte needs to get a coach in as soon as possible, however. Every day they go without, the Dub is losing ground.

Q. Hi Langston, any word who will replace Rocky White at West Meck? Shame a man has to go to SC and take an assistant job to afford to coach...I understand Bruce Hardin has taken two of Rocky White's lieutenants, Bobby Collins and Tony Swainey to PDS. Bruce will build a great program on Sardis Road. Any word from Senior Drive who the football (and I guess basketball, too) coach will be? Getting late. -- Chuck
A. Chuck, I talked to Providence Day athletics director Barbara Fricke today, and she says the school has hired Collins. I agree with you that Hardin has a good chance to do good things at Providence Day. As far as Rocky, I know he had felt the tug of coaching his soon and in SC, where his son is in school, assistants can make sometimes triple what head coaches in Mecklenburg County earn. That can help make a decision easier sometimes.

I'll miss Rocky. He was colorful and very fun to deal with. In terms of replacements, West Meck officials are interviewing candidates. I know they hope to have someone by early next month.
As far as West Charlotte, the school had a candidate who apparently did not check out. Now they have to start over. This is a big hire. They really need some stability there. Maurice Flowers was a great choice, but we all know what happened there. Now they need to find another guy like him. West Charlotte has had too many football and basketball coaches lately. This will be the third straight year, in both sports, that the Lions start out with a new boys hoop coach and a new football coach. West Charlotte used to be a place where coaches stayed awhile. Bruce Hardin and Tom Knotts were there more than 20 years in football. Charles McCullough and Gosnell White more than 40 years in basketball.
Times change, I guess.

Q. LW, what's your feeling on SC moving championship games to Clemson? -- Tiger Ralph

A. Tiger Ralph, I didn't like that. Gas might cost $4 bucks per gallon come Christmas '08 and South Carolina had most of their championships right in Columbia, smack dab in the middle of the state. They had it right. I can't imagine folks in Myrtle Beach will be excited about driving all the way to Clemson if their team goes.

In our state, the state championships are rotated between Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. In fact, most state finals here are in Raleigh or Chapel Hill. That can create long drives for some teams and creates a homefield-like advantage for many schools that reach state finals from the Raleigh area. I guess some of that you just can't get around.

I used to like in the old days when all the state football was at Chapel Hill. Kids would grow up saying "I want to go to the state final in Chapel Hill." And there was something cool about being able to go to one place and see the best players and best teams. I just think, in terms of geographical fairness, Chapel Hill is about as far as east as you'd want to go.

I would say Greensboro is probably the most central site in our state, and it wouldn't bother me to have more state finals there. Greensboro doesn't have a great football facility so that would be out. I know the state association here needs help to put these events on and the folks at Wake Forest and Chapel Hill and NC State have been good corporate supporters. In South Carolina, the University in Columbia has been supportive of the S.C. Leagues events, too.

I also know there'd been pressure to move the S.C. games somewhere other than Steve Spurrier's backyard. Tommy Bowden of Clemson had lobbied for some games at his place. Coaches want recruits to see how good they might have it in college.

But I guess I'm thinking of Joe the barber and Mack the cook who just want to see their high school team play a state championship and not spent a week's check getting there.

Q. It's been a long offseason for us folks at South, as you can imagine. What do you see for us next season? Are we going back to the playoffs (to stay)? -- Karen Smith

A. Karen, I think in some ways it'll be a little healing for the Sabres to hit that field and play Catholic at home in the fall. I think with the addition of RB Larry Kennedy from Providence Day, the Sabres will have that game-breaker they lacked in the past. South will once again have great size and a good coaching scheme that other coaches don't like to deal with. So yes, I think you're going back to the playoffs this year. And this time you'll actually get to see South play its first playoff game in 14 years.

Q. Langston, i think spring sports coverage is lacking. you all cover all these football and basketball games with pictures and big stories. Our kids in the spring don't get that same appeal. I appreciate you all's efforts. You know you can do more. -- Anonymous.

A. I think we're moving along at a pretty good clip. I'm working on some features now that will hopefully be splashed on the front page with good photos and give you the "pop" I think you've missed. I have to admit after basketball season, my tank was empty. I was working some pretty heavy weeks, hours-wise, and needed a blow. I'm charged up now and ready for next week's Wachovia Championship and spring sports playoffs after that.

That said, there's a whole lot of coverage on our prep page right now. We've got a new video from Dan Tierney and Cliff Mehrtens, stories on Kell's big soccer win over The Dence, a name-filled notebook, a story about the West Charlotte coaching situation and much more. That's just one day. I'd say that ain't half bad.

Q. Langston, when are the conference tournaments in spring? -- Anonymous

A. Thanks to my good friend, assistant county athletics director Sue Doran, here's your answer:
SOUTHWESTERN 4A Conference:

Baseball
Round 1 May 1 @Seeds #1 and # 2 - 5:00pm & 7:30 pm -- Admission $5
Semi Finals May 2 @Independence HS -- Game 1 @ 5:00 pm - Game 2 @ 7:30 pm -- Admission $5
Finals May 5 @UNCC - 7:00 pm -- Admission $5

Softball
Round 1 May 1 @Seeds #1 and #2 - 5:00 pm & 7:00 pm -- Admission $5
Semi Finals May 2 @ Ardrey Kell - 5:00 pm & 7:00 pm -- Admission $5
Finals May 5 @ Ardrey Kell - 7:00 pm -- Admission $5

Tennis
April 29 and 30 @ Butler HS - 3:30 pm -- No Admission Charged

MECA Conference

Baseball - NO conference tournament

Softball - NO conference tournament

Tennis
April 29& 30 @Hopewell -- 4:00pm -- No Admission Charge
QUEEN CITY Conference:
Baseball - NO conference tournament

Softball - NO conference tournament

Tennis
April 29 -- 3A @TBD (either Olympic or Catholic) - 3:30pm -- No Admission Charge
4A @Harding - 3:30pm -- No Admission Charge

Q. Langston, we heard the NW Cabarrus QB is transferring to your P Diddy. What's up? -- Anonymous

A. First, folks here use "P Diddy" or "P-Diddy" when referring to Providence Day. Second, I have heard that rumor but I believe it's just that, and it's kind of old. I guess if the quarterback were to transfer, we'd find out when school opens in the fall.

The policy hasn't really changed on that. Until school opens and Kid X is at School Y (or Mom and Dad tell me so), I don't really believe it.

Q. Dude, why aren't you doing the video insiders thing anymore? Another question, didn't you say Kobe B. should win MVP. Want to change it now? Go Kell! -- Anonymous

A. I think they kicked me off the show. But Dan Tierney's doing a good job making up cool signs to flash every week, and Cliff M is a rock as the host. If they ask me back, I'll go back.
As for Kobe, his 49 point performance in Game 2 wasn't too bad (though West Coast games start and end way too late). But I get your point. Chris Paul is definitely the star of these playoffs. You can make a case for him and for Kevin Garnett, who authored one of the best W-L turnarounds in NBA history with the Celtics.

Q. OT questions: What do u think of GTA IV. I know you've got it by now. Please explain all the heat around W. Snipes and T. Owens right now. -- Anonymous

A. Actually I don't have GTA IV yet. I wrote a column about it that will run in Monday's editions. Let me know what you think about it. As far as actor Wesley Snipes goes, he got sentenced to three years in jail for failing to submit tax returns. There have been a few internet reports of Owens suing a gossip site for something that I won't explain because I have not seen any official confirmation of it.

Q. LW, thanks for bringing the Q&A back. Missed it. Actually like this format better because you can see some of the questions. That's kind of neat. -- Jody

A. Jody, welcome back. I remember you. Glad you like this format. I'm still waiting to see a few of the regulars return here. I know a lot of folks haven't found it yet. But you guys can add your questions on here as a comment or email them to me at lwertz@charlotteobserver.com
I promise to answer often. As always. Have a good weekend.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hot notes, players from HS baseball

Notes from high-school baseball:

  • Ryan Arrowood (R-S Central) is having a dominant season. He is hitting .469, with five homers, 28 RBIs and eight steals. On the mound, Arrowood is 7-0 with a 0.94 earned run average. In 52 innings, he has struck out 101 and allowed 23 hits.
  • Ardrey Kell shortstop Jonny Eaker answers to the nickname “Jimbo.”Explanation: “Well, my mom may get a little mad,” Eaker said, laughing. “Seventh grade, my coach didn’t know my name one time, and called me Jim. It turned into Jimbo.”
  • South Caldwell, in its first 15 games, outscored opponents 131-11. The Spartans are No. 1 in the Observer Sweet 16.
  • Be careful taking leads against North Stanly pitchers. Jared Beck has nine pickoffs, Adrian Shepherd eight and Ethan Austin seven.
  • Major-league scouts like plenty about York (S.C.) Comprehensive pitcher Zac Fuesser. He’s left-handed and can throw 90 mph consistently. His name should get called in the draft June 6.
  • North Lincoln has five home runs, all by Byron Sherrill.
  • Concord Cannon’s Matthew Keeler has struck out once in 88 plate appearances, and is hitting .519.
  • Sweet ratio: Cannon’s William Frazier has struck out 39 batters, and walked one in 31 innings.
  • Balance: North Mecklenburg has seven hitters with 10 or more RBIs, led by Patrick Ledford’s 18.
  • Metrolina Christian (14-5) is led by sophomore Tyler Myatt (.477, nine homers, 24 RBIs), 8th-grader Will Ray (.388 as leadoff hitter) and pitchers Brantley Hattrich (47 strikeouts in 36 innings) and Hunter Hattrich (3-0).
-- Cliff Mehrtens

Ardrey Kell: A winning 'tradition'

Ardrey Kell has never played baseball like a fledgling.

The second-year Knights have led ultra-competitive Southwestern 4A all season, and can clinch the conference title with a victory at South Mecklenburg at 7 p.m. Friday.

Ardrey Kell (18-3) beat three teams in the Observer Sweet 16 in the past six days - Myers Park, Providence and Olympic.

Coach Hal Bagwell downplayed the team’s No. 3 preseason ranking in a state 4A poll. Smart move, not wanting to put too much pressure on a young team (three of nine starters against Providence on Tuesday were seniors).

But, turns out the pollsters were correct.

Bagwell drills Ardrey Kell the same demanding way he did as coach at South Mecklenburg, which he turned into a state contender.

“We’re probably the hardest-working team in Charlotte,” shortstop Jonny Eaker said. “Coach Bagwell definitely works us hard. Last year I think we surprised a lot of people (with a playoff berth). This year, we knew it could be special coming back after last season.”

Ardrey Kell won its first five games last season. It shocked many fans, but wasn’t a fluke. The Knights finished 18-10, earned the conference’s fifth playoff spot and beat West Mecklenburg in the first round.

This season, they’re playing good defense, riding strong pitching from Jordan Darnell (7-1) and hitting from Eaker (.397 batting average), Ryan Stetson (.415, six home runs, 24 RBIs) and Andrew Miller (12 RBIs).

Darnell also has four home runs and 17 RBIs.

Pitchers Blake Parsley, Alex Wood and Ryan Butler have three victories apiece, which means Darnell isn’t overworked.

After clinching a share of the conference title in the home win against Providence on Tuesday, the Knights weren’t particularly giddy. They shook hands in ordinary fashion, and grabbed rakes and hoses for postgame field maintenance.

They’re accustomed to winning. In two seasons, that’s their legacy.

-- Cliff Mehrtens

Observer baseball player of the year history

While sitting at a game Tuesday, I had a discussion about Observer baseball players of the year. Sadly, my advancing age prevented me from recalling too far back.

Thank goodness for archives, as I was able to construct the list of winners we’ve named since 1990.

It also set me to thinking (preliminarily, of course) about players in contention for the award this season. There are key conference and playoff games to be played, but who are your contenders for Observer player of the year?

Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

The list:

2007: Madison Bumgarner, South Caldwell
2006: Jared Bard, Char. Christian
2005: Ryan Morris, South Meck
2004: Chad Flack, East Rutherford
2003: Daniel Bard, Char. Christian
2002: Kris Harvey, Catawba Bandys
2001: Charlie Lisk, Fort Mill
2000: Joey Babyak, Char. Christian
1999: Jason King, West Meck
1998: Demetric Smith, Rock Hill Northwestern
1997: Barrett Wright, Myers Park
1996: B.J. Hawkins, Independence
1995: Jeremy Schumacher, Providence
1994: Bo Robinson, South Meck
1993: Dan Carlson, Charlotte Latin
1992: David Darwin, West Meck
1991: Trevin Smith, West Meck
1990: Tim Hix, Harding

-- Cliff Mehrtens

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tom Knotts ties the knot

Langston Wertz Jr.'s Q&A is moving to the Prep Insiders blog. You can email questions to lwertz@charlotteobsever.com or post replies to this blog entry by clicking on comments link below. Langston will pull those questions and answer them periodically.

Here are the latest questions and answers:

Q. What's up with Tom Knotts? Did he really get married? -- Jody, mint hill

A. Jody, yes, Tom got married recently and is expecting his first child.

Q. langston, chikieze? c'mon dude. anyhow, my question is when are you gonna give my girl Orr at Butler a little bit of props. I know you love Ashton Ward, but this girl can go, too. -- Pops, Matthews

A. Pops, anyone who has an 0.00 ERA gets love from me. I wrote about her this week in the paper and we ran her picture. I promise we'll hit more as the games gain importance. Cool?

And as far as Chikeze, the man has an impeccable tenor. He's about as close to Luther as I've heard. The week he got booted off Idol, doing Luther's "If Only For One Night," I was sitting there thinking this will be a major hit at black adult radio if he released it. I rewound my TiVo to hear him sing it again.

Q. Langston, what do you know about the summer league in west Charlotte this year? Is that real? -- Anonymous

A. Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is having a six or seven week league that kicks off in June for what they hope will be 22 area teams. It's a neat alternative to AAU, I think, and admission is free. Coaches and fans will get a look at what their teams will look like next year. I think it's a sound idea, but we'll see how it works out.

Q. Langston, the AAU states are in town this week right? -- Anonymous

A. Yes, play begins Friday, mainly at Hopewell, Harding and North Meck. You can get a schedule here. The finals are Sunday at 3 p.m. at Hopewell. I'm planning to send Herb White to do the semis and championship rounds as we do most years.

Q. Langston, you guys going to do the lacrosse city championships? I know you want city championships in football and basketball. We have one now. -- Anonymous

A. I wrote a blog about the lax city championships, which start Thursday. It's the second year for the event and Country Day won the first one in 2007.

This year, several area teams are ranked in a top 50 regional ranking. I know there's a large spurt in participation for lacrosse and field hockey, and now rugby is coming on the scene. Until the NCHSAA officially sponsors them w/state championships and playoffs, they'll remain club sports for the publics. The privates will have a real state final next month.

We'll cover this year's city championship on Monday, though. We usually cover the all-star game as well.

Q. Langston, the rumor is the coaches at MP, the Dence and a few others are eyeing our job out here at NW Cabbarrus. Who would be a good fit out here? -- Anonymous

A. I have heard those same rumors, but I'd figure a lot of coaches would be interested in replacing Mike Helms up there. You'll remember, Helms followed Tom Knotts at West Charlotte and went 6-5, missing the playoffs at the Dub for the first time in 13 years.

Helms lives in Hickory and couldn't sell his home there, so he was forced to drive to school every day. That's a long haul, especially trying to roll back up 321 about midnight after an away game. I can't say I blame him for stepping down.

The new coach will inherit junior QB Jeremy Cannon who threw for 2,600 yards in Helms' system, which has always leaned towards conservative. I've not seen Cannon play, but I hear from many folks I trust that he's going to be along the lines of a Joe Cox or like the kid at West Charlotte last season, Darius Thomas. Folks think he'll be special. I'll be going to see how special really soon. Promise.

Who's a good fit? It's not fair for me to name names of guys who are at other programs, but a pass first coach, like a Mo Flowers (who isn't at a school now so I'll mention him) would fit.

Q. Langston, top 5 returning players in football in the area next year? -- IKnowWhatUDont

Q. Hmm, in our state? I'd say Indy's Devonte Holloman (Clem, Ga., Mich, UNC, NC State, Notre Dame, South Carolina) is the top guy. He's a 6-2, 210 pound safety with 4.4 speed. In person, his athletic gifts are easy to see.

After him, I like Fayetteville Britt 6-6, 285-pound offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (Clem, Fla., Miami, UNC, NC State, Notre Dame, Tenn); 6-4, 226-pound DE Donte Moss of Jones Senior (comm. to UNC); South Stanly cornerback Terry Shankle (Ala, Clem, Fla., UNC, NC State, South Caro., Tenn); and Gastonia Ashbrook athlete Jheranie Boyd, a 6-3, 185 pound mostly receiver with 4.3 speed (Alabama, Clem, MD, Miss St., UNC, NC State, Wake).

In our area? I'd go Holloman, Boyd, Taylor Caldwell (Indy RB moving back to natural position after a year at LB), NW Cabarrus QB Jeremy Cannon and Indy QB Anthony Carrothers. Yes, that's a lot of the Big I, but they'll be loaded again.

Q. I agree w/u on Fantasia. Kelly should be up there, 2, and Carrie. This year is not as good as the year Fantasia won either. -- Anonymous

A. I like Kelly. I'm not a country guy but I appreciate Carrie's talent, and she's been the most successful idol. But just on sheer vocal talent, Fantasia is the one. This year, I think, is the best.

Q. where is the spring sports coverage, dude? it's been disappointing.--Myers Park 87

A. 8-7, we're putting it out there, three or four notebooks every week, blogs, videos. We covered two games today. What are we not doing that you want to see?

Q. Langston, i second the comment about the lacrosse stuff. you all should cover that more. it's the fastest growing sport in the nation -- Anonymous

A. Our hands are a little tied until the association officially makes it a recognized sport. We can't cover one club sport and not do the others and we don't have manpower or space to do that. I know as far as participation, lacrosse, like soccer, is booming. But in terms of spectators, I don't see the numbers in either sport. So it's a little hard to gauge true overall reader interest. There's definitely passionate pockets. We've just go to figure out how to use our space and time the best.

Q. lang, please tell me you saw your boy emmit doing his mock draft. straight comedy -- Cowboypunks

A. I did. It's all over YouTube, but you know what? Emmitt's a lot better now than when he started. If they're patient with him at ESPN, he may learn to get the thoughts in his head -- which seem to be good -- out of it in a way that better represents himself (man, that was PC).

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring sports polls released

Everyone wants to know where they rank, so let’s go polling in high school softball, baseball and boys' tennis:
-----
N.C. Softball Coaches Association poll

CLASS 4A
1. West Johnston
2. North Davidson
3. Butler
4. Central Cabarrus
5. Alexander Central
6. Fuquay-Varina
7. Hopewell
8. Middle Creek
9. Providence
10. Freedom
Honorable mention: West Forsyth, Laney, Garner, East Gaston, North Mecklenburg.
---
CLASS 3A
1. Southwestern Randolph
2. Harnett Central
3. DH Conley
4. Southern Alamance
5. South Central
6. Enka
7. Newton Foard
8. Bartlett-Yancey
9. TC Roberson
10. Tuscola
Honorable mention: Hickory St. Stephens, East Rowan, Randleman, Eastern Randolph.
---
CLASS 2A
1. Central Davidson
2. Forbush
3. Bunn
4. South Brunswick
5. Graham
6. East Rutherford
7. Pisgah
8. North Lenoir
9. Owen
10. South Lenoir
Honorable Mention: Croatan, East Duplin, Madison, Northwood.
---
CLASS 1A
1. East Surry
2. East Carteret
3. Swain County
4. South Stanly
5. North Moore
6. Union
7. Cherryville
8. East Bladen
9. Pender
10. Jamesville
Honorable Mention: Manteo, South Davidson, Williamston, Hayesville, Polk County.
-----------
----------
Impact Baseball poll
(Voted by Impact, coaches and media statewide)

CLASS 4A
1. South Caldwell
2. Fuquay-Varina
3. North Davidson
4. Riverside
5. Hopewell
6. Ardrey Kell
7. Jordan
8. North Mecklenburg
9. JH Rose
10. Millbrook
---
CLASS 3A
1. SE Guilford
2. East Rowan
3. Rocky Mount
4. R-S Central
5. South Granville
6. CB Aycock
7. Lenoir Hibriten
8. Eastern Wayne
9. Marvin Ridge
10. North Buncombe
---
CLASS 2A
1. First Flight
2. North Lenoir
3. West Stanly
4. West Henderson
5. West Stokes
6. Orange
7. South Lenoir
8. Graham
9. Salisbury
10. Ledford
---
CLASS 1A
1. Swain
2. South Stokes
3. Williamston
4. Murphy
5. Perquimans
6. Cherryville
7. North Johnson
8. Topsail
9. Princeton
10. Midway
-------------------
-------------------
N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association Polls

CLASS 4A
1. Broughton; 2. E. Chapel Hill; 3. Ardrey Kell; 4. Chapel Hill; 5. Weddington; 6. Millbrook; 7. Sanford; 8. Page; 9 (tie). Green Hope, Myers Park.
Receiving votes: Apex, Concord Robinson, Providence, Wakfield, Hoggard, Grimsley.
---
CLASS 3A
1. So. Nash; 2. W. Alamance; 3. Lake Norman; 4. SE Guilford; 5. Charlotte Catholic; 6. Hickory; 7. C.B. Aycock; 8. Burlington Williams; 9. Statesville; 10 (tie). Rocky Mount, T.C. Roberson.
Receiving votes: Union Pines, Nash Central.
---
CLASS 2A
1. Cardinal Gibbons; 2. Newton-Conover; 3. First Flight; 4. Tarboro; 5. Greene Central; 6. Lexington; 7. Salisbury; 8. Cedar Ridge; 9 (tie). Lenoir Hibriten, Shelby.
Receiving votes: Brevard, Holmes, Graham, So. Vance.
---
CLASS 1A
1. Topsail; 2. Hendersonville; 3. NC Math & Science; 4. Mt. Airy; 5. Gastonia Highland; 6. E. Montgomery; 7. Bishop McGuinness; 8. Jordan-Matthews; 9. Ayden-Grifton; 10. Alleghany.
Receiving votes: Albemarle, Gates Co., Elkin, Manteo.

-- Cliff Mehrtens

City lacrosse championship begins Thursday

The second Charlotte City Lacrosse Championship begins Thursday.

Charlotte Country Day is the defending champion.

The event could be hotly contested. According to the website laxpower.com, which tracks teams nationally, five of the top 50 teams in the southeast are from the Charlotte area: No. 10 Charlotte Catholic, No. 12 Providence Day, No. 23 Charlotte Country Day, No. 26 Providence Day and No. 48 Providence.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association, which is the governing body for 355 mostly public high schools, does not recognize lacrosse as an official sport. Lacrosse is considered a club sport. The NCHSAA doesn't host a state championship for the sport and the Observer typically does not cover club sports. There are too many club sports played by area high school students and the newspaper doesn't have the manpower or space to attempt coverage.

The N.C. Independent Schools do recognize lacrosse as an official sport and will hold state championships May 13, 15 and 17 at Charlotte Latin School.

Here is the schedule for this week's event and final local rankings, courtesy of Charlotte Lacrosse News:

Top 8 Final Rankings
1. Catholic
2. Country Day
3. Providence Day
4. Providence
5. Latin
6. Weddington
7. Myers Park
8. North Meck

City Championship Schedule:
Thursday, April 24
1-8 North Meck @ Catholic Time & Location TBA
2-7 Myers Park @ CCDS Time TBA
3-6 Weddington vs. Providence Day School @ Queens U Marion Diehl Field 6:00 PM
4-5 Latin @ Providence HS Time TBA
Saturday, April 26 @ Ardrey Kell HS
1:00 PM 1-8 Loser vs. 2-7 Loser
3:00 PM 4-5 Loser vs. 3-6 Loser
5:30 PM 1-8 Winner vs. 4-5 Winner
8:00 PM 2-7 Winner vs. 3-6 Winner
Monday, April 28
Championship Game
1-8-4-5 WINNER vs. 2-7-3-6 WINNER 7:30 PM @ Queens U Marion Diehl Field

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Q&A: Wertz on Hopewell, Sweet 16s

Langston Wertz Jr.'s Q&A is moving to the Prep Insiders blog. You can email questions to lwertz@charlotteobsever.com or post replies to this blog entry by clicking on comments link below. Langston will pull those questions and answers them periodically.

Here are the latest questions and answers:

Q. Langston, did you hear about Hopewell's charity night Friday? Barry, Huntersville.

A. Yes, Barry, Hopewell is having a special charity night to benefit injured troops returning from Iraq. The baseball team has gotten two multi-night cruise trips to raffle off and will sell some special jerseys that they'll wear during the game. All proceeds will benefit the troops. There'll be more in Tuesday's paper, but I think it's neat that kids can identify something like this and try to make it happen. I hope the Hopewell and Mallard Creek communities (Mallard Creek plays at Hopewell Friday) will go out and support this neat effort.

Q. L-Dub, why are there no Sweet 16s for spring sports like you have
with football and basketball? You know there's only one girls Sweet 16,
right? Marvin E., Weddington

A. Marvin, in the past, we've done Sweet 16s in softball, girls soccer
and baseball. We stopped because compiling records for area teams in
those sports is an arduous task, particularly with rain outs and
reschedules. We have returned with the baseball Sweet 16, which you'll
notice is announced once per week on Thursdays.

Will anything else change moving forward? I don't know.

Q. Glad you're back, L-Dub. I noticed that the NCHSAA salaries were very
wide on you all's list the other day. Did that surprise you? --
Anonymous

A. Yeah a few people pointed out to me that the executive director made
more than $180,000 -- or more than double his chief assistants. I would think that
the associates and assistants would be a little closer in range. I know
people for years have speculated about the NCHSAA budget and salaries.
So some folks got a long-awaited answer, or at least part of one.

Q. Langston, thanks so much for bringing the Q&A back. We missed it. I
wanted to say your points on Kobe were right on. Kids will copy that
stuff. My question is how did Traynham not make the All-Observer team? I
thought it was pretty balanced but you only had one Vance kid on there
and they were second best in your area, right? -- Vance4Life, Charlotte

A. Vance Fan, thanks on the Kobe column. I heard from a LOT of people about that one.

As for Daryl Trayham, the Vance sophomore had an excellent season. He made all conference and I voted for him for the all-region team which he also made.

Naming the All-Observer team is a tough thing. We cover 120-plus schools and there were lots of great players all over. As a sophomore who came in after the season began, Trayham had a good run. I thought he was a good lead guard. He was certainly "on the bubble" of our all-star teams. Several guys were.

Whenever we do all star teams, you should hear my voice mail. Sounds like a Richard Pryor concert. I'm just glad people are so passionate about this stuff. Makes the job fun.

Q. Langston, do you think the Tar Heel trio should go pro? And thanks for bringing this back, dude. -- Tonya Norman, Charlotte

A. No I don't. I think Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have significant enough questions about their games that they would be low first round picks at best. If anything, they could declare and not hire agents -- and definitely not go to the draft in person.

I think they'll both make more money and be drafted higher and be better prepared after another year in school.

As for Tyler Hansbrough, I think -- deep down -- he really wants the ring. He apparently doesn't need the dough (at least as a primary reason for leaving early) and he's the glamour boy of college ball. Before he goes and sits on somebody's NBA bench, I think I'd want to enjoy the limelight for one more year. Besides, he's not a lottery pick this year. He's a solid NBA player but not a team-changer. Next year, in a thinner '09 draft class, he could go top 12. And when he does he could go as one of the 10 best college players ever.

Q. Langston, when is Dub-C going to get a football coach? Who's the front runner. And what's up with your boy Tom Tindall? I thought you had him the job at P-Diddy. Tell us? -- Anonymous

A. I've heard the Lions have made a recommendation to the school board and are awaiting approval. It's time to get a coach in there for weight training and spring drills.

As for Tommy, my understanding is that it was his to turn down at Providence Day and when they met, there was a clash of philosophies. Providence Day got a good man in Bruce Hardin. Tell you what, if Oddo ever leaves Catholic, I think Tommy might make a good fit there, too. I know he'd be interested.

Q. Who are your conference favorites in the big 3 city conferences. Who's your fave on Idol? -- Anonymous

A. Catholic or Olympic in Queen City. North Meck or Hopewell in ME-CA. Kell/Providnce/Myers Park in SW4A....On Idol, tell you what, I have liked David Cook from the beginning. I'm not much for rock music, but I'd buy his album if he's as creatively risky as he is on the show. Dude's a major talent, probably the second best ever on Idol after Fantasia, who's just freakishly talented.

I liked Chikeze and thought he was ready to make records now, too, but of the remaining contestants, it's gotta be David Cook. After him, I'd say David Arculeta. Among the women, Syesha is really, really good. It's been a good year for Idol, I'd say.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Locals entering NCHSAA Hall of Fame

Two area high school sports figures are among those being inducted into the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame Saturday in Chapel Hill:

Former Myers Park track coach Stuart Allen led his team to 11 state team championships in 16 years.

Charlotte's Elton Hawley is also being inducted. He is one of the pioneers in sports medicine in North Carolina high school circles who worked for years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.

Also being inducted are: former Richmond Senior football coach Daryl Barnes, now principal at Trinity High School; longtime Elizabeth City-area coach Bob Brooks; Fayetteville-area coach and official Bill Carver; baseball coach Fred Lanford, who won more than 500 games in Caldwell County; longtime girls basketball coach Bill Rucker; and Chatham Central baseball coach Ron Scott, who coached in five decades and won 520 games.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

S.C. title games move to Clemson

On Wednesday, the S.C. High School League voted to move three of the state's high school football state championship games to Clemson. The games had been held at South Carolina's Williams Brice Stadium since 1997.

That decision has led to a lot of "discussion" in the state. Some folks are happy. Many are upset because the "Weekend of Champions" format at South Carolina was drawing well. Last year's event was attended by more than 30,000 fans.

Columbia is in the heart of South Carolina. Driving to Clemson would make a long commute for some teams. The S.C. message boards are lighting up.
The S.C. 2A, 3A and 4A games will be played at Clemson in December. The 1A game will remain in Orangeburg at S.C. State.

The S.C. High School League had received some pressure from members of the S.C. General Assembly to play the state title games outside Columbia. Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden has also lobbied for the games to be held on his campus.

In North Carolina, state title games are rotated between Raleigh (N.C. State), Chapel Hill (North Carolina) and Winston-Salem (Wake Forest).

"I think that's great," Rep. Dan Cooper, R-Anderson, told the Columbia State newspaper. "I think it will be good for (South Carolina to move the games) and good for the kids to get exposure to all the facilities. I think it will be a good deal for everyone involved."

Another thing I noticed:
The S.C. League also voted to allow high school football teams to hold up to seven spring practices in full pads, starting this spring. Those practices must occur between the last 30 days of school and the first two weeks after school ends.

Previously, players could only wear helmets and shoulder pads during the practices. Now after the first three days, where they may still only wear helmets and shoulder pads, they can go in full gear for the final four practices.

You all think North Carolina needs something like that?

This week's N.C. tennis poll

The weekly boys' tennis state polls, compiled by the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association:

Class 4A
Team Points
1) Raleigh Broughton 70
2) East Chapel Hill 60
3) Ardrey Kell 54
4) Chapel Hill 52
5) Weddington 39
6) Raleigh Millbrook 30
7) Terry Sanford 18
8) Greensboro Page 15
9) (tie) Green Hope 13
9) (tie) Myers Park 13
Others receiving votes: Apex (11), Jay Robinson (7), Charlotte Providence (5), Wakfield (5), Wilmington Hoggard (3), Greensboro Grimsley (1).
----
Class 3A
Team Points
1) Southern Nash 50
2) Western Alamance 44
3) Lake Norman 39
4) Southeast Guilford 31
5) Charlotte Catholic 30
6) Hickory 27
7) Charles B. Aycock 21
8) Burlington Williams 15
9) Statesville 6
10) (tie) Rocky Mount 4
10) (tie) T.C. Roberson 4
Others Receiving Votes: Union Pines (3), Nash Central (1)
-----
Class 2A
Team Points
1) Cardinal Gibbons 80
2) Newton-Conover 71
3) First Flight 65
4) Tarboro 50
5) Greene Central 46
6) Lexington 43
7) Salisbury 32
8) Cedar Ridge 22
9) (tie) Hibriten 11
9) (tie) Shelby 11
Others Receiving Votes: Brevard (5), John A. Holmes (2), Graham (1), Southern Vance (1)
----
Class 1A
Team Points
1) Topsail 40
2) Hendersonville 36
3) NC School of Math and Science 31
4) Mount Airy 29
5) Highland School of Technology 21
6) East Montgomery 20
7) Bishop McGuinness 18
8) Jordan-Matthews 9
9) Ayden-Grifton 5
10) Alleghany 4
Others Receiving Votes: Albemarle (3), Gates Country (2), Elkin (1), Manteo (1)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where is Langston Wertz's Q&A?

Where has Langston's Q&A Gone? Right here.

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten a lot of email and a LOT of phone calls from many of you, wondering what happened the Q&A page.

It's moving here to the Prep Insiders blog.

We'll still have as much fun as we used to, and all you'll need to do is change your bookmarks (to http://prepinsiders.blogspot.com) and change the method a bit.

You can ask questions by emailing them to me at lwertz@charlotteobserver.com or by replying to this blog post. At least once a week I'll try to create a new post with new questions on it. Those questions will be culled from going through the blog posts or via emails you send in.

Send your questions. I'm ready.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Carolinas All-Star Classic rosters

Here are rosters for the 11th annual Carolinas All-Star Classic high school basketball All-Star game Saturday at Bobcats Arena. The girls game tips at 12:30 with the boys following 20 minutes after the girls game ends. Tickets are $40 (courtside), $25 (inner circle reserved) and $15 general admission lower level.

South Carolina Girls All-Star Team
LaShana Booker, Dorman HS in Roebuck, SC
Branshea Brown, Colleton County HS in Walterboro, SC
Ashley Clarke, Myrtle Beach HS in Myrtle Beach, SC
Schwanna Dunmore, C.E. Murray HS in Greeleyville, SC
Chelsey Peterson, Dutch Fork HS in Irmo, SC
Shevonne Seymore, Hartsville HS in Hartsville, SC
Miteka Truehart, Lancaster HS in Lancaster, SC
Seneca Turner, Broome HS in Spartanburg, SC
Ruby Lee Wright, Latta HS in Latta, SC
Tierra Young, Spartanburg HS in Spartanburg, SC
South Carolina Boys All-Star Team
Sterling Council, Camden HS in Camden SC
Will Dawkins, Dorman HS in Roebuck, SCPublish Post
Kiara Douglas, Darlington HS in Darlington, SC
Andrew Maurice Crawford, Mullins HS in Summerville, SC
Murphy Holloway, Dutch Fork HS in Irmo, SC
Bryan Narcisse, North Augusta HS in North Augusta, SC
Lashay Page, Dillon HS in Dillon, SC
Zycorrian Robinson, Spartanburg HS in Spartanburg, SC
John Rogers, Fort Mill HS in Fort Mill, SC
Steadman Short, Hillcrest HS in Simpsonville, SC

North Carolina Girls All-Star Team
Marlisha Best, Beddingfield HS in Wilson, NC
Brittani Billups, Eastern Wayne HS in Goldsboro, NC
Jessica Capers, Forestview HS in Gastonia, NC
Whitley Culler, North Surry HS in Mt. Airy, NC
Jasmine Gill, Page HS in Greensboro, NC
Nicole Hargraves, Grimsley HS in Greensboro, NC
Terrica Jones, Wake Forest-Rolesville HS in Wake Forest, NC
Trumae Lucas, Grimsley HS in Greensboro, NC
Secily Ray, Thomasville Senior HS in Thomasville, NC
Paquita Wingate, Hunter Huss HS in Gastonia, NC

North Carolina Boys All-Star Team
EJ Abrams-Ward, Thomasville HS in Thomasville, NC
Titus Robinson, East Mecklenburg HS in Charlotte, NC
Zack Hollifield, Pisgah HS in Pisgah, NC
Donovan “Bo” Ingram, Kinston HS in Kinston, NC
Reginald Johnson, Winston-Salem Prep in Winston-Salem,
NC
Hunter McClintock, Northern Durham HS in Durham, NC
Daniel Nieman, Concord HS in Concord, NC
Malik Stith, East Mecklenburg HS in Charlotte, NC
C.J. Williams, Jack Britt HS in Fayetteville, NC
Ty Walker, New Hanover HS in Wilmington, NC