Thursday, December 29, 2011

The (old) Bojangles' Shootout is back (or the Hardwood Classic just got good)

Wednesday night, during the boys semifinals in the first Hardwood Classic, the magic came back to Bojangles' Coliseum.

After two down years, when the event was still called the Bojangles' Shootout, the popular Christmas tournament, once called the best post-Christmas tournament in the nation by a major national news publication, started looking like its old self.

The crowd was large. The place was loud. The games, between Northside Christian and Kennedy Charter then Mooresville and Davidson Day, were high-level, nail-biting affairs that came down to the final possessions. I couldn't hear myself talk to my neighbor or hear my iPhone ring.

As we head to tonight's championship finals, there are three really good games to look forward to on the final night: the Davidson Day-Kennedy Charter third place boys game at 5:10 p.m. will be as good as most any championship game you'll find in any holiday tournament in the Carolinas.

Kennedy Charter has at least six future Division I players, including the best player at the event, 6-5 junior guard Donte' Clark. Davidson Day has about five, including the quickest player at the tournament, 5-11 senior guard Rashun Davis.

The Kennedy-Davidson game will be fast paced and fun.

The girls championship game at 6:50 will match defending tournament champion Berry and Ardrey Kell, and both teams could reach regional or state championship games -- Berry in 3A and Ardrey Kell in 4A.

Then the 8:30 boys championship between Northside Christian and Mooresville will match a great team (reigning champion Northside) against a solid Mooresville team led by one of the best players at the event: senior guard Shawn Lester. Northside is No. 2 in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll. Mooresville is No. 6.

Lester, a 6-3 guard signed to Charlotte, has put on two amazing performances at this event and 49ers fans probably should come check him out Thursday. I'm guessing they'll like what they see.

Lester had 26 points in the semifinals and blocked a point blank layup by a center with 25 seconds left to prevent Davidson Day from tying the game. Then with 13 seconds left, he sealed the game with a pair of free throws to  give his team a four-point lead.

It was nice to see the tournament get its teeth back Wednesday night. Let's hope it continues on the most important night Thursday: title night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Live from Wednesday's Hardwood Classic at Bojangles' Coliseum

Get live score updates by clicking this link for

See coverage from Tuesday, including a look at Kennedy Charter and Mooresville's win over Ardrey Kell by clicking here


Today's Boys Semifinals: Northside 83, Kennedy Charter 79 (OT); Mooresville 57, Davidson Day 55.
Today's Boys Consolations: Forestview 55, Queens Grant 40; Ardrey Kell 60, First Assembly 57
Thursday's Boys Championship: Kennedy Charter vs. Mooresville, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday's Boys Third Place Game: Kennedy Charter vs. Davidson Day, 5:10 p.m.
Thursday's Boys Fifth Place Game: Forestview vs. Ardrey Kell, 1:50 p.m.
Thursday's Boys Seventh Place Game:
Queens Grant vs. First Assembly, 10:40 a.m.

Girls Semifinals: Berry 47, Hickory Ridge 43; Forestview vs. Ardrey, 5:10 p.m.
Today's Girls Consolations: Anson County 48, Queens Grant 21; Hough 56, Covenant Day 18
Thursday's Girls Championship: Berry vs. Forestview/Ardrey Kell, 6:50 p.m.
Thursday's Girls Third Place: Hickory Ridge vs. Forestview/Ardrey Kell, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday's Girls Fifth Place: Anson County vs. Hough, 12:10 p.m.
Thursday's Girls Seventh Place: Queens Grant vs. Covenant Day, 9 a.m.


Forestview 55, Queens Grant 40: At halftime, Forestview trailed 24-21, but the Jaguars turned it around in the second half, forcing Queens Grant into 19 percent shooting and outscoring Queens Grant 34-16. Calvin Johnson had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for Forestview, which has won four of its last five games. Teammate Devante Machins had 10 oints, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Queens Grant got 12 points and 10 rebounds from Kriston Beasley.
Forestview 12 9 13 21 -- 55
Queens Grant 13 11 7 9 -- 40
Adams 9, Clyburn 2, Calvin Johnson 15, Devante Machins 10, Nichols 8, Wallace 7, Guffey 4
QUEENS GRANT 40 -- Lee 4, Trey Brown 14, Kriston Beasley 12, Singletary 2, Johnson 2, Lester 6

Ardrey Kell 60, First Assembly 57:
The Knights rallied to win with a 23-11 push in the fourth quarter after trailing 36-24 at halftime. Ardrey Kell limited First Assembly to 28.6 percent shooting in the second half after First Assembly shot 52 percent in the first half. Ardrey Kell was led by Tate Small (16 points, 7 rebounds) and Elvis Kisonas (14 points). Nate Cantadore had 19 for First Assembly.
First Assembly 17 19 10 11 -- 57
Ardrey Kell 15 9 13 23 -- 60
Allison 2, Andrew Wheet 14, Nate Cantadore 19, Williams 8, Will Nork 14
ARDREY KELL 60 -- Sellers 4, Barclift 2, Tate Small 16, Copper 5, Elvis Kisonas 14, Santa-Ana 9, Scott 8, Cooper 2

Anson County Girls 48, Queens Grant 21: Anson jumped out to a 22-2 lead in the consolation game Wednesday and lead 29-10 at halftime. Anson outrebounded Queens Grant 41-27, forced 34 Queens Grant turnovers and held Queens Grant to just 30 percent shooting. Keyara McKnight (13 points, 8 rebounds), Jillian Murray (10 points, 4 steals) and Jaida Robinson (8 points, 13 rebounds) led the Bearcats, who will play in Thursday's fifth place game.
Anson 22 7 13 6 -- 48
Queens Grant 2 8 6 5 -- 21
ANSON 48 --
Keyara McKnight 13, Anderson 2, Jillian Murray 10, Robinson 8, Little 8, McRae 3, Rivers 4
QUEENS GRANT 21 - Graves 6, Siamos 3, Staton 4, Clifton 8

Hough 56, Covenant Day 18: Hough held Covenant Day scoreless in the first quarter and to only two points in the third. Covenant Day shot 11 percent for the game. Hough, which will play Anson Senior in Thursday's fifth place game, was led by Kelsey Dean (11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), Anna Diggs (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Brandi Arey (10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals).  Covenant Day's Anna Melton had 3 blocks.
Covenant Day 0 11 2 5 -- 18
Hough 13 12 16 15 -- 56
Melton 6, Brace 2, Manns 3, Hite 2, Mosteller 5
HOUGH 56 -- DeMarcus 2, Anna Diggs 11, Brandi Arey 10, Kelsey Dean 11, Brown 4, Carroll 4, Montgomery 4, Cowie 4, Fisher 5, Williams 1

Berry 47, Hickory Ridge 43:  Berry reached its second straight championship game after winning the Bojangles' Shootout last year. The tournament has changed names, but the Cardinals are back in the finals after an overtime win over Hickory Ridge. Berry's Essence Baucom had 18 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals in the win. Hickory Ridge's Jordan Strode had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
Berry 8 9 11 12 7 -- 47
Hickory Ridge 12 10 5 13 3 -- 43
BERRY 47 --
Essence Baucom 18, Imani Parr 10, Brown 2, Quinn 6, Marcus 6, Johnson 2, Shorter 3
HICKORY RIDGE 43 -- Evans 3, Kiana Davis 13, Jenna Cachine 10, Jordan Strode 17

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Live from Tuesday's Hardwood Classic at Bojangle's Coliseum

Get live game scores by clicking here for

Tuesday's Boys Scores: 
Kennedy Charter 97, Queens Grant 63; Northside 64, Forestview 44; Mooresville vs. Ardrey Kell, 6:50 p.m.; First Assembly vs. Davidson Day, 8:30 p.m.
Boys Semifinal Pairings Wednesday: Kennedy Charter vs. Northside, 6:50 p.m.; Mooresville/Ardrey Kell vs. First Assembly/Davidson Day, 8:30 pm.
Boys Consolation Pairings Wednesday: Queens Grant vs. Forestview, 10:40 a.m.; Mooresville/Ardrey Kell vs. First Assembly/Davidson Day, 1:50 p.m.

Tuesday's Girls Scores: Hickory Ridge 55, Queens Grant 39; Berry 44, Anson 42; Forestview 43, Hough 41; Ardrey Kell 63, Covenant Day 30.
Girls Semifinal Pairings Wednesday: Hickory Ridge vs. Berry, 3:30 p.m.; Forestview vs. Ardrey, 5:10 p.m.
Girls Consolation Pairings Wednesday: Queens Grant vs. Anson County, 9 a.m.; Hough vs. Covenant Day, 12:10 p.m.

Kennedy Charter 97, Queens Grant 63: Unbeaten Kennedy Charter started slow against Queens Grant, slowed down by the Queens Grant zone defense, but the Eagles pulled away behind 17 points each from Donte' Clark, J.J. Douglas and Shaquille Cherry.

Queens Grant got 18 points each from Kriston Beasley and Trey Brown.

Northside Christian 64, Forestview 44: Northside gave up 22 points in the second quarter and led only by 3 in the first half as Forestview rallied from a 15-point early deficit, but in the second half, Northside's defense caused Forestview all kinds of problems. The Jaguars scored only 15 points and shot 32 percent.

Northside got 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists from Lawrence Cooks and 16 points, 4 steals and 3 assists from Davon Bell. Forestview's Sean Spencer had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

Hickory Ridge 55, Queens Grant 39:
Hickory Ridge's defense held Queens Grant to single digit scoring in three of four quarters in a relatively easy win. Hickory Ridge led 33-13 at halftime and was led by 24 points and 8 rebounds from Kiana Davis and 19 points and 11 rebounds from Jordan Strode.

Queens Grant got 13 points and four rebounds from Crystal Siamos.

Berry 44, Anson Senior 42: Berry rallied to gain a late edge, helped along with a technical foul on Anson for calling a timeout when the Bearcats had none. Still Anson had a chance to tie the game with 0.04 seconds left, but Bearcats guard Jillian Murray missed her first free throw. She missed the second intentionally but Berry got the rebound.

Berry got 17 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds from guard Essence Baucom, plus 12 points and 11 rebounds from Jessica Marcus. Anson's Murray had 15 points, 9 steals and 5 rebounds.

Gastonia Forestview 43, Hough 41: Forestview's Bre Armstrong hit a driving layup with less than five seconds left to lift her team to the win. Hough had a chance to tie but turned it over on its final possession. Armstrong finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Julia Brown led Hough with 18 points and 18 rebounds.

Ardrey Kell 63, Covenant Day 30: Ardrey Kell held Covenant Day to 23 percent shooting in an easy first round win. Wake Forest recruit Christelle Shembo had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 steals.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Could UNC Charlotte host NC High School championship games?

Recently, I started thinking about how good it would be for the annual Shrine Bowl football game, played between the best high school seniors in the Carolinas, to come back to Charlotte. The game should be played at UNC Charlotte. You can read more about that here.

But the possibility of using UNC Charlotte's upcoming 15,000 seat facility to host the prep all-star football game got me to thinking:

It would also be great to use it to host a N.C. state championship football game or two. Currently, the N.C. High School Athletic Association holds its championship games at Wake Forest, North Carolina and N.C. State.

Those three venues split eight championship games.

Adding Charlotte to the mix would allow each venue to host two games, and Charlotte is probably the most "right sized" venue of the quartet. The others swallow up the crowd, and coming to UNC Charlotte's campus would add a more western site to the mix, where most title games in all sports are held up east, near Raleigh-Durham.

And Charlotte would be great for basketball, too. The 9,000 seat Halton Arena is just perfect for the state championship basketball games. Currently, they're at the Dean Smith Center and Reynolds Coliseum. Smith Center is huge, but nice, and Reynolds is more the right size. Charlotte is the right size and the 49ers fans love basketball; and of course, the 49ers athletics staff probably wouldn't be too upset about the prospect of some of the state's top players coming to play on their campus and some of the state's best players coming to watch the games in their pretty facility.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hardwood Classic Christmas Tournament tips Tuesday, with promise

The first Hardwood Classic Christmas Tournament this week could be special.

The game takes over the date and site at Bojangles' Coliseum where the old Bojangles' Shootout had been held in recent years. The tournament runs Tuesday through Thursday.

The Charlotte Sports Commission, which is putting on the tournament, is also trying to breathe new life into the event by putting together the strongest field in three years, at least on the boys side.
The boys tournament should be fun to watch with Sweet 16 No. 2 Northside Christian and No. 6 Mooresville in the field along with private school power Davidson Day and new area power Kennedy Charter Public School.

In fact, all four of those teams could meet in the semifinals, including a Northside-Kennedy Charter meeting that could stand as the biggest Mecklenburg County game of the year so far.
Both teams are unbeaten, stocked with a plethora of college recruits and two of the area's top coaches in Northside Christian's Byron Dinkins and Kennedy Charter's Ed Addie.

One small change I hope organizers will consider for this or future events. In recent years, having back-to-back girls games in the 3:30 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. time slots has caused the event to lose momentum. I'd move the two girls games back one timeslot each day to avoid this.

Other than that, I think the Mecklenburg County Christmas tournament is back.

Looking forward to it.

Tickets to the Hardwood Classic are $12 for adults and $6 for children and students under 18 with valid ID. Children under 3 get in free. Parking is also included in the ticket price.

Day One Schedule, Tuesday, Dec. 27: Queens Grant girls vs. Hickory Ridge, 9 a.m.; Queens Grant vs. Kennedy Charter, 10:40 a.m.; Anson Senior girls vs. Berry, 12:10 p.m.; Northside Christian vs. Forestview, 1:50 p.m.; Hough girls vs. Forestview, 3:30 p.m.; Covenant Day girls vs. Ardrey Kell, 5:10 p.m.; Mooresville vs. Ardrey Kell, 6:50 p.m.; First Assembly vs. Davidson Day, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shrine Bowl airs on ESPNU Saturday

SPARTANBURG, SC – This past Saturday, December 17 was the 75th Anniversary of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. This year’s game was one of the best in recent memory. Fans who were unable to attend can still watch the all-star match-up. ESPNU will air three (3) tape delayed telecasts of the December 17th game. The first showing
will be on Saturday, December 24, 2011, at 8:00 PM EST.
The announcement marks the 4th year of the agreement between ESPNU and the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. The deal originated in 2008 under the guidance of Scholastic Sports Marketing, a sports marketing firm based in Charlotte, NC that serves as the game’s official marketing arm. The game will air two (2) additional times on
Monday, December 26 at 3:00 AM EST and Wednesday, January11, 2012, at 8:00 AM EST. ESPNU is now
available in 73 million homes nationwide.
For the first time, the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas was streamed live on ESPN3. Fans can watch the all-star game for a limited time as the game is archived on-line at
“There is no other network that offers amateur premier sports content like ESPNU and to have our game front and center is special. Thanks to ESPNU and ESPN3, the Shriners Hospitals, all 88 student-athletes selected for this
year’s game will experience the thrill of playing on the big stage,” Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Chairman of the Board, Billy Benfield said.
This year was the 75th playing of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, the oldest prep football all star game in America.

The annual classic, established in 1937, pitted the top 44 high school football players from North Carolina against the top 44 from the state of South Carolina. The game was played at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Saturday, December 17. Event proceeds benefit the Shriners Hospitals
for Children.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

N.C. Associated Press All-State team announced

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – State champion Havelock and finalist Shelby Crest each placed two players on The Associated Press all-state prep football team for 2011 in North Carolina.

Havelock receiver Pharoh Cooper and versatile threat Zach LaHaie led their school to the Class 3-A championship and an unbeaten season, while Crest defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and defensive back Rhaheim Ledbetter – a Florida recruit – made the team after helping their school reach the 3-AA final. They were the only schools to have multiple AP all-state picks on the 27-player squad in voting results released Tuesday.

Two others players – Greensboro Page quarterback James Summers and Tarboro running back Todd Gurley II – also made the team after leading their schools to state championships. Summers is a North Carolina State recruit.

Charlotte Mallard Creek offensive lineman and Florida recruit D.J. Humphries was a unanimous pick on all 16 ballots from sports writers across the state to make the team for the second straight season. Western Guilford offensive lineman Brock Stadnik, a South Carolina recruit, also made the team for the second straight year.

Joining Summers and Gurley in the offensive backfield was Raleigh Millbrook running back and Georgia recruit Keith Marshall, while East Chapel Hill's Alex Moore and Western Alamance's B.J. Bunn joined Cooper at receiver. Charlotte Catholic's Mark Harrell (Notre Dame recruit), South Mecklenburg's Casey Blaser (Duke recruit) and Davie County's Cole Blankenship joined Humphries and Stadnik on the offensive line, while South Granville's Matthew Fuhr made the team at tight end.

Durham Hillside lineman Jamal Marcus had 14 votes to lead the all-state defense, joining Bullard, Forest City Chase's Carlos Watkins and West Forsyth's Alex McCalister in the front four.

Charlotte Vance's Larenz Bryant, Charlotte Berry's Nick Dawson and Matthews Butler's Peter Kalambayi made the team at linebacker.

In the secondary, Morganton Freedom's Marcus Kincaid, Hope Mills South View's B.J. Fields and Indian Trail Porter Ridge's Chris Duffy joined Ledbetter on the team.

For special teams, Charlotte Latin's Paul Griggs was voted in at place-kicker, Northwest Cabarrus' Bradley Pinion (Clemson recruit) was selected at punter and Greenville Rose's Marquis Gorham made the team as a kick returner.

2011 AP all-state prep football team for NC By The Associated Press
The voting breakdown for the 2011 Associated Press all-state prep football team for North Carolina, as cast by a 16 statewide media members in voting results released Tuesday. Number of votes are in parentheses.


QB–James Summers, Greensboro Page (6)

RB–Todd Gurley II, Tarboro (15)

RB–Keith Marshall, Raleigh Millbrook (8)

WR–Alex Moore, East Chapel Hill (10)

WR–Pharoh Cooper, Havelock (8)

WR–B.J. Bunn, Western Alamance (7)

TE–Matthew Fuhr, South Granville (12)

OL–D.J. Humphries, Charlotte Mallard Creek (16)

OL–Mark Harrell, Charlotte Catholic (14)

OL–Brock Stadnik, Western Guilford (11)

OL–Casey Blaser, South Mecklenburg (8)

OL–Cole Blankenship, Davie County (6)



DL–Jamal Marcus, Durham Hillside (14)

DL–Jonathan Bullard, Shelby Crest (13)

DL–Carlos Watkins, Forest City Chase (9)

DL–Alex McCalister, West Forsyth (5)

LB–Larenz Bryant, Charlotte Vance (12)

LB–Nick Dawson, Charlotte Berry (9)

LB–Peter Kalambayi, Matthews Butler (8)

DB–Marcus Kincaid, Morganton Freedom (9)

DB–Rhaheim Ledbetter, Shelby Crest (9)

DB–B.J. Fields, Hope Mills South View (7)

DB–Chris Duffy, Indian Trail Porter Ridge (6)



PK–Paul Griggs, Charlotte Latin (9)

P–Bradley Pinion, Northwest Cabarrus (11)

KR–Marquis Gorham, Greenville Rose (8)

ATH–Zach LaHaie, Havelock (5)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's why the Shrine Bowl needs to come back to Charlotte, UNC Charlotte

So North Carolina beat South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl Saturday. I think the score was 26-19. Problem is, for folks in this state, the Shrine Bowl just doesn't mean what it used to, and that's a shame considering high school football in this state has taken off the way it has, and interest in high school football in this state has taken off the way it has.

The Shrine Bowl started in 1937 and was based on the East-West College Shrine game in California. A Charlotte fire chief named Hendrix Palmer helped put on the first game in December 1937. That game attracted 5,500. Admission was a buck. It was the nation's first high school all-star football game.

And it was was played here until 2000, when organizers moved it, basically because it just wasn't attracting the crowds it once had. I remember when the game would draw 20,000 and was shown on live TV that you didn't need cable or an internet connection to see. But by 2000, moving was the right thing to do. Crowds were way down. TV ratings were way down.

At the time, high school football in Charlotte had been going down, too.

The game moved around for a few years before landing in Spartanburg, S.C., about a 90 minute drive south of Charlotte and too deep into South Carolina for the game to matter for most N.C. fans.

Check the N.C. papers. Shrine Bowl coverage was sparse during the week and live game coverage wasn't strong either. Shame. The game matches the best players from North and South Carolina. It's a wonderful event, and over the years the Shriners have raised more than $70 million for children with disabilities in the Shriner's Hospitals.

It's funny, but in 2000, when the game left town, high school football really began to take off in North Carolina and especially in Charlotte. Independence won seven straight state championships. Skip one year and Butler won two more. Charlotte Catholic won a couple in smaller classifications. Mecklenburg County, and North Carolina, began to produce All-Americans with great regularity.

High school football began to matter like it never had before. But the high school football season, in this state at least, ended when the state championships did. For the kids who made the Shrine Bowl team, it was probably a great week, full of memories. But I can't tell you how many emails I got (and get) from people wondering what the Shrine Bowl is, or wondering why they stopped playing it.

If you're going to have a game with the best players from both states, you play it in a border town. Charlotte sits on the state line for both states. This is where the game started.

Memorial Stadium is old and in need of repair. So you can't hold it there. Bank of America Stadium, where Cam Newton's Panthers play, is too big, and probably too expensive.

The perfect solution, friends, is Charlotte, UNC Charlotte. The 49ers are about to launch a football team in August, 2013. Charlotte's new 15,000-seat stadium will open in August 2012.

Besides a really big high school football game to kick off the place -- can you hear me Butler and Mallard Creek -- wouldn't it be cool to have the Shrine Bowl come back to town and help open up the 49ers new digs?

I think it would help the Shrine Bowl, too. Imagine living in, say, Durham, and thinking of going to watch. Don't think I want to drive from Durham to Spartanburg unless my kin is playing. But I can see going from Durham to Charlotte. And Charlotte's a media hub. The Shrine Bowl's Q rating instantly goes up by coming back. And the interest in high school ball here, particularly about high school stars who are going to college, has never been greater.

Listen, end of the day, the Shrine Bowl is about some of the two states' top recruits.

It's time to bring them -- and the game itself -- back home. Back to where it all started.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sources: Vance nominates Keith Wilkes to be next football coach

Vance High's next football coach could be a Forsyth County Hall of Famer who led Winston-Salem Carver to two state championships.

According to sources close to the program, Vance has nominated Keith Wilkes to be its next football coach. Wilkes' hiring would have to approved by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. If approved, Wilkes would replace Phil Culicerto, who coached Vance in 2009 and 2010. Culicerto's 2010 team finished 11-4 and reached the N.C. 4AA semifinals.

Culicerto was forced to resign days before the start of the 2011 season because he hadn't completed requirements to get his teaching certificate renewed. Culicerto later rejoined the staff as a volunteer assistant and offensive coordinator Billy Leeson was named interim head coach.

The Cougars started the season 1-6 amid the coaching issues and a few player transfers. Vance recovered for a four-game win streak to close the regular-season which got the Cougars into the playoffs. Vance lost in the first round to Ardrey Kell.

Leeson indicated he was not interested in continuing as head coach. He is also Vance's dean of students.

Now it appears Vance has found its man.

Wilkes was 139-62-1 at Winston-Salem Carver from 1992-2007. His teams won 11 conference championships, and won state titles in 1998 and 2003.

Wilkes, 48, was part of the 2011 class of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Sports Hall Of Fame.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vance High looking for new football coach

Vance High athletics director Glenn Blafield said the school has posted its head football coaching vacancy and has begun accepting applications.

Vance head coach Phil Culicerto had to step down just before the 2011 season began last August due to problems with his teaching certification. Culicerto later rejoined the staff as a volunteer assistant and offensive coordinator Billy Leeson was named interim head coach.

The Cougars reached the N.C. 4AA semifiinals in 2010 and began the season with high hopes, but started the season 1-6 amid the coaching issues and a few player transfers.

Vance recovered for a four-game win streak to close the regular-season which got the Cougars into the playoffs. Vance lost in the first round to Ardrey Kell.

Leeson indicated he was not interested in continuing as head coach. He is also Vance's dean of students, and now the school has begun looking for a permanent replacement.

Blafield said applications will be taken for two weeks and the school hoped to start interviews after the holidays.

"Now that the season is over, we have to move forward," he said. "We knew Billy going in was only the interim, and we had to make some decisions. We have a good program and we have to get another coach in here to take it to the next level."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Concord Cannon star Alec Wintering leaves basketball team

Concord's Cannon School, a member of the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association, will play the remainder of the season without its best player.

Junior point guard Alec Wintering, who has four college scholarship offers, has left the team, his brother, Daniel, told the Observer. Daniel Wintering said his brother is still attending Cannon but that the family is looking to potentially move him.

Daniel Wintering said the midseason switch had to do with a series of disagreements with Cannon coach Glen Taylor.

According to Daniel Wintering, he and his family met with Cannon headmaster Matt Gossage and athletics director Rod Rachal Monday night and informed them on their decision.

Taylor, contacted by the Observer, referred the newspaper to Gossage.

"They made a decision that's best for Alec, I guess," he said. "This is an ongoing issue at school."

Taylor declined further comment. Gossage didn't return calls but Cannon athletics director Rod Rachal called the newspaper with a written statement:

"Yesterday (Monday), Alec Wintering's brother informed us Alec would no longer play basketball at Cannon due to a difference of opinion between our varsity head coach and Alec's brother. Alec is a great young man and contributes tremendously to our school community."

A 5-foot-9 guard, Wintering led Cannon in scoring (18.4 points), was third in rebounds (2.4), first in steals (2.6) and first in assists (3.3). He has scholarship offers from Duquesne, Florida International, Manhattan and Iona, according to his brother.

Note: comments on this blog post have been deleted due to abuse

Rocky River all conference football team

Rocky River Conference
Football All-Conference
All Conference
Treshun Wynn​​Monroe​​Emmitt Afam​Cuthbertson
Quay Chambers​​Monroe​​Julius Stradford​Cuthbertson
Caleb Walker​​Monroe​​Ryan Kendall​Cuthbertson
Ashad Byrd​Monroe​​Kevin McVay​Cuthbertson
Mason Sledge​​Monroe​​Zach Panek​Cuthbertson
Jaylan Barbour​Monroe​​Kyle Eiss​Piedmont
Jamarcus Glenn​Monroe​​Brandon Gentry​Piedmont
Brandon Little​​Monroe​​Aaron Braswell​Piedmont
Tyreke Laney​Forest Hills​Hunter Purser​Piedmont
Jamal Little​​Forest Hills​Trae Funderburk​CATA
Marques Thomas​Forest Hills​John Qunitero​CATA
Jamarcus Clyburn​Forest Hills​Tyree Drakeford​Union Academy
CJ Kiser​Forest Hills​Rasheed Rushing​Union Academy
Matt Privette​Forest Hills​BJ Hill​West Stanly
Cameron Savol​North Stanly​RJ Holbrook​West Stanly
Honorable Mention
Jermany Hammond​Monroe​Montez Rorie​Monroe
Jared Lee​Forest Hills​Greg Belin​Forest Hills
Brian Latimore​Cuthbertson​Alex Norton​Cuthbertson
Sawyer Baucom​Piedmont​Davis Dixon​Piedmont
Josh Sawyer ​CATA​Nick Crowell​CATA
Devin Chambers​Union Academy​Antonio James​Union Academy
TJ Rushing​West Stanly​Chase Lewis​West Stanly
Anthony Long​North Stanly​Tyler Cody​North Stanly
Offensive Player of the Year – Quay Chambers - Monroe
Defensive Player of the Year – Mason Sledge - Monroe
Coach of the Year – Tad Baucom – Central Academy

Carolina Preps NC Top 25 football poll

The final Top-25 Media Poll of 2011 has been voted on and published.  Greensboro Page received 10 of the 18 first-place votes cast to move ahead of Scotland in the rankings.

Team Record Prev Points
1. Greensboro Page (10) (15-0) 2 442
2. Scotland  (8) (15-0) 1 440
3. Havelock (15-0) 5 394
4. Mallard Creek (13-1) 4 393
5. Northern Guilford (14-1) 8 362
6. Indian Trail Porter Ridge (14-1) 6 360
7. Garner (15-1) 3 359
8. Matthews Butler (11-2) 7 345
9. New Bern (12-2) 11 252
10. Fayetteville Britt (11-3) 12 243
11. Mooresville (12-3) 14 239
12. Boiling Springs Crest (12-4) 10 217
13. Charlotte Catholic (13-1) 13 214
14. West Rowan (13-3) 9 212
15. Lawndale Burns (13-2) 15 194
16. Raleigh Leesville Rd. (12-1) 16 182
17. Durham Hillside (11-2) 17 176
18. New Hanover (10-3) 19 149
19. Wilson Hunt (13-1) 21 104
20.Tarboro (13-2) NR 95
21. Fayetteville Byrd (13-1) 24 72
22. Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor (11-2) 22 58
23. West Stokes (16-0) 25 57
24. Lincolnton (14-2) 18 51
25. Asheville (12-1) 23 50

Others receiving votes:  Kinston 46, Belmont South Point 28, Swain County 24, Charlotte Independence 18, Murphy 13, Ayden-Grifton 10, Southeast Raleigh 7, Kannapolis Brown 6, Richmond County 6, Morganton Freedom 6, Jones Senior 5, Northwest Guilford 5, Nash Central 5, Apex Middle Creek 4, Wilmington Laney 3, Cleveland 2, Albemarle 1, Franklin 1

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Southern Carolina All-Conference football team

Southern Carolina Conference
All Conference Football

Punter - #6 Matt Wogan Jr  Porter Ridge
Kicker- #2 Tyler Cochran Soph Marvin Ridge
Specialist-# 7 Rodrick Evans Jr. Anson
Offensive MVP- #5 Lee McNeill  Sr Porter Ridge
        #22 Jadarrius Williams Sun Valley
Defensive MVP-#7 Buck Jones Weddington
Coach of the Year – Blair Hardin Porter Ridge
Offensive Line

#67 Ismael Bailey Jr Anson
#72 Trey Cherry Sr Marvin Ridge
#50 Cam Hunt Sr. Marvin Ridge
#64 Matt Brantley Sr. Parkwood
#59 James Houston Jr Parkwood
#74 Thomas LaBianca Sr Porter Ridge
#72 Tim Dose Sr Porter Ridge
#60 Ethan Suzenvick Jr. Porter Ridge
#55 Jarred Barr Sr. Sun Valley
#77 Jacob Cannell Jr Sun Valley
#55 Bobby Jenkins Sr Weddington
#79 Zach Cooper Soph Weddington
Running Back
#21 Brandon Smith Sr. Anson
#23 Jacob Henderson  Soph Marvin Ridge
#10 Najee Davis Sr Porter Ridge
Wide Receiver
#7 Carter Harris Sr Marvin Ridge
#7 Jordan Oakley Sr Porter Ridge
#12 Jody Fuller Sr Sun Valley
#10 Will Holmes Sr Sun Valley
#2 Colin Lisa Soph Weddington
#9 Tyler Chadwick Sr Marvin Ridge
#14 Drew Ponderbarac Sr Weddington
Defensive Line
#55 Adam Smits Jr. Marvin RIdge
#32 Phil Younis Sr. Marvin RIdge
#51 Ryan Dilworth, Jr Porter RIdge
#50 Shane Burns Sr Porter Ridge
#55 Justin Oldja Sr Porter Ridge
#34 Avery Worsham Jr Porter RIdge
#73 Eddie Kelly Jr Sun Valley
#45 Shane Vogel   Sr Weddington
#40 Matt Townsend Sr Marvin Ridge
#2 Chad McWhorterv Sr Parkwood
#15 Nick Vagnone  Soph Porter Ridge
#40 David Marino Sr Sun Valley
#32 Luke Gill  Jr Sun Valley
#6 Cordarrius Williams Jr Sun Valley
#42 Heath Moore  Jr Weddington
#16 Darius Brower Sr Weddington
Defensive Back
#25 Luke Stennett Sr Marvin Ridge
#2 Marcus Freeman Jr Porter Ridge
#11 Chris Duffy Jr Porter Ridge
#4 Danny Sawyer Sr Sun Valley
#9 Billy Ryan Jr Weddington
#4 Cole Finch Sr Weddington

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thoughts, observations from the N.C. 4AA and 4A state championships

-- After watching Greensboro Page win its first state title since 1986, I enjoyed watching the emotion of the players and a huge crowd at Winston-Salem. Nothing against Page, but I couldn't help but wonder how this team had beaten Mallard Creek and Butler on back-to-back weeks in the N.C. 4AA quarterfinals and semifinals. I didn't see either one of those games but was surprised Butler lost a 26-6 lead and Mallard Creek lost a 19-7 advantage to the state champion Pirates.

Page isn't as big or athletic as Butler and Mallard Creek and while Page QB James Summers is special, but both Mallard Creek and Butler have players of similar talent, and more of them. Maybe it's like editor Chris Hughes told me: "Greensboro Page just wanted it more."

-- Scotland County had been getting mentioned by a lot of high school people in the know as the best overall team in the state. I wouldn't say that after watching the Scots beat Porter Ridge 42-16, but their team speed is impressive and they had the same kind of "want to" as Page did.

-- Porter Ridge, No. 1 in the Sweet 16, is a very good team and deserving of the finals. Despite what the score may make it sound like, the Pirates had many chances to win the 4A final. Porter Ridge actually had the ball deep in Scotland territory down 21-16 in the fourth quarter before a run of turnovers led to easy Scotland scores to end the game.

-- A lot of people will point to Scotland's 82-yard pass from  Kwashaun Quick to Travis Wall with 7:31 left to play as the biggest play of the game. It came on third at 9 with Scotland up 21-16. Porter Ridge looked like it would get the ball back in good field position. The pass was fit in between several defenders and was beautiful to watch.

But the biggest play to me was unfortunately an officials' call. On the previous possession, Porter Ridge had taken possession at Scotland's 36 after an interception. Porter Ridge ran a reverse down to Scotland's 2, but the play was called back for holding. It didn't appear to me that the penalty affected the play. On replay, I couldn't find the infraction, which doesn't mean it didn't happen.

-- I thought the officials were too active during both championship games. There were 17 combined penalties in the 4A final, but it seemed they always marred key plays. Maybe the teams were committing infractions to spring big plays, but too often those of us in the press box were throwing our arms in the air to see a big play end only to be followed by a yellow flag landing on the artificial turf.

-- I hadn't been to Wake Forest's field since the renovations were complete. It's an amazing place to watch a game now. The new press box is amazing and the big replay screen is out of this world. They turned on the SEC championship game between LSU and Georgia between the 4AA and 4A finals. It was amazing to watch the championship on such a clear, beautiful HD screen.