Thursday, February 28, 2013

Former Concord coach EZ Smith named master trainer for USA Football

From media release:

Former Concord (N.C.) High School head football coach E.Z. SMITH III is taking a leading role within USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, promoting a better and safer game on youth levels nationwide.

USA Football will instruct Smith and other football experts – including high school coaches and former NFL and college players – as Heads Up Football Master Trainers during a workshop March 2-3 in Indianapolis.

Following their training in Indianapolis, Smith and other Master Trainers will teach USA Football’s Heads Up Football program to youth league leaders across the country. This encompasses teaching USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling techniques, educating leagues on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concussion recognition and response protocols and instructing on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to a better and safer game. Adopted by youth leagues on a national level in 2013, Heads Up Football stands on four primary tenets:

Coaching education :  All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game’s fundamentals by completing USA Football’s nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Education Course.

Concussion recognition and response:  Coaches learn CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football’s Level 1 Coaching Education Course.  Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season. 

Tackling technique:  USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.

Equipment fitting:  Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting. Equipment maintenance best practices also are learned.

“Heads Up Football promotes a safer, better game,” USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenback said. “We are proud to have E.Z. help us lead America’s youth football community as a Heads Up Football Master Trainer, helping to set the highest standards of player safety and coaching education across youth sports.”

“Youth football leagues in our region have a tremendous opportunity in 2013 to adopt USA Football’s Heads Up Football program,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. “USA Football has earned my trust – they put the safety of our kids first and offer the training youth coaches need to be exceptional teachers. USA Football and the Panthers are committed to raising youth football’s standards and this program does that.”

Smith was the head football coach at Concord (N.C.) High School for 29 years, compiling a 254-100-1 record and reaching the postseason 23 times. His teams twice won the North Carolina Class 3-A state championship, reaching the western regional final two more times. A member of the Cabarrus County Athletic Hall of Fame, Smith also taught science, health and physical education during his teaching career.

USA Football is the national governing body of the sport in the United States as well as the official youth development partner of the NFL, all 32 teams and college’s Atlantic Coast Conference. Youth tackle football is played by 2.8 million American children age 6-14. USA Football has trained more than 100,000 volunteer youth coaches to better teach the sport’s fundamentals and to address player safety with CDC protocols.

USA Football’s Heads Up Football Master Trainers:
Name    Location    Experience
Tom Bainter    Seattle, Wash.    Bothell (Wash.) High School head coach
Aaron Brady    Washington, D.C.    Gonzaga College High School head coach
Kevin Brown    Kansas City, Kan.    Veteran youth football coach
Buddy Curry    Atlanta, Ga.    Former Atlanta Falcons linebacker and veteran youth football coach
Vincent DiGaetano    Valley Stream, N.Y.    SUNY-Maritime College defensive coordinator
Artie Gigantino    Oakland, Calif.    Former Los Angeles Raiders special teams coordinator and linebackers coach
Chris Greisen    Green Bay, Wisc.    Former Division II All-American and NFL quarterback
Chris Haddock    Clifton, Va.    Centreville High School head coach
Mike Haynes    Dallas, Texas    Former NFL defensive lineman, veteran Texas high school football coach
Gabe Infante    Philadelphia, Pa.    St. Joseph’s Preparatory School
Chuck Kyle    Cleveland, Ohio    St. Ignatius High School head coach
Lawrence Lee    San Diego, Calif.    Veteran youth football coach, San Diego American Youth Football and Cheer
Neal Martin    San Diego, Calif.    Veteran youth football coach, San Diego American Youth Football and Cheer
Greg McCaig    Houston, Texas    Cypress Creek High School head coach
Chris Merritt    Miami, Fla.    Christopher Columbus High School head coach
John Roderique    Webb City, Mo.    Webb City High School head coach
Jonathan Ross    Cairo, Ga.    Cairo High School assistant coach
E.Z. Smith III    Concord, N.C.    Former Concord High School head coach
Steve Specht    Cincinnati, Ohio    St. Xavier High School head coach
Wayne Voorhees    Broomfield, Colo.    Legacy High School head coach
Thomas Williams    Los Angeles, Calif.    Former NFL linebacker

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ardrey Kell loses coach Mike Craft, still beats South Meck

Ardrey Kell’s boys basketball team found out it would play South Mecklenburg without head coach Mike Craft about 90 minutes before tipoff Monday.

Craft’s wife came to the gym with terrible news: Craft’s mother had taken gravely ill in Hickory.
Craft addressed the team briefly and then drove up I-40.

The Knights (23-5) beat South Mecklenburg 44-34 before 24 points from sophomore Steven Santa-Ana. But after a taking a comfortable early lead, Ardrey Kell had to fight off a Sabres’ team that was within two possessions of the lead for the most of the second half.

Senior guard C.J. Thompson led the Sabres with 12 points.

Knights junior varsity coach Ryan Shinn, 27, coached in place of Craft and said he was proud of the team.
“They said they were ready to go and if they were any nerves they didn’t show me,” Shinn said. “Coach has prepared me and the rest of the coaching staff for any situations like this and I couldn’t be any more proud of the coaches or the team.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

NCHSAA Boys Basketball Playoff Pairings


                  Games are hosted by higher seed and will be played Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Game time is 7 pm unless a doubleheader is played at 6:30 pm and 8 pm.
                  Records include conference tournament results. Seeds are indicated.

16  Holly Springs (12-13) at  1 Clayton (25-2)
9    Wilmington Ashley (16-8) at 8 Wilmington New Hanover (15-9)
12  Knightdale (14-11) at 5 Hope Mills South View (22-4)
13  Fayetteville Terry Sanford (13-11) at 4 Wilmington Hoggard (16-8)
14  Greenville Rose (10-14) at 3 Fayetteville Seventy-First (24-2)
11  Fayetteville Pine Forest (15-11) at 6 Garner (21-4)
10  Southeast Raleigh (15-10) at 7 Richmond Senior (18-8)
15  East Wake (8-16) at 2 Hoke County (24-2)

16  Cary Panther Creek (10-13) at 1 Durham Jordan (21-4)
9    Southern Pines Pinecrest (14-9) at 8 Apex Middle Creek (18-8)
12  Raleigh Wakefield (13-11) at 5 Durham Hillside (18-7)
13  Lee (14-12) at 4 Cary Green Hope (21-5)
14  Lumberton (10-15) at 3 Apex (18-9)
11  Northern Durham (13-9) at 6 Raleigh Millbrook (16-10)
10  Roxboro Person (14-10) at 7 Ralelgh Leesville Road (18-8)
15  Raleigh Enloe (11-13) at 2 Raleigh Broughton (22-5)

16 Greensboro Grimsley (7-17) at 1 Southwest Guilford (26-0)
9   Pfafftown Ronald Reagan (19-5) at 8 Northwest Guilford (17-8)
12 South Mecklenburg (13-12) at 5 Charlotte Ardrey Kell (22-5)
13 Jamestown Ragsdale (12-13) at 4 Greensboro Dudley (20-6)
14 Winston-Salem R.J. Reynolds (12-14) at Charlotte Independence (22-5)
11 East Forsyth (14-12) at 6 Davie (20-5)
10 Greensboro Ben Smith (16-10) at 7 Greensboro Page (19-7)
15 Charlotte Myers Park (12-14) at 2 Winston-Salem Mount Tabor (23-3)

16 East Mecklenburg (12-14) at 1 Charlotte Olympic (24-0)
9  Charlotte Garinger (8-16) at 8 South Caldwell (8-14)
12 East Gaston (11-13) at 5 Watauga (13-10)
13 Charlotte Mallard Creek (18-8) at 4 Monroe Sun Valley (17-8)
14 Lake Norman (12-12) at 3 McDowell (20-5)
11 Charlotte Vance (20-6) at 6 Cornelius W.A. Hough (20-5)
10 Indian Trail Porter Ridge (7-17) at Asheville A.C. Reynolds (12-12)
15 Mint Hill Rocky River (9-15) at 2 West Charlotte (24-3)


16 Jacksonville (10-15) at 1 Rocky Mount (22-2)
9  South Brunswick (3-20) at 8 Currituck (9-16)
12 Pikeville C.B. Aycock (13-12) at 5 Hertford (12-12)
13 Greenville D.H. Conley (15-11) at 4 West Brunswick (12-11)
14 North Lenoir (13-13) at 3 West Craven (22-4)
11 Nash Central (13-9) at 6 Wilson Hunt (20-5)
10 Winterville South Central (17-9) at 7 Havelock (16-9)
15 Northern Nash (8-13) at 2 Erwin Triton (22-3)

16 Eastern Guilford (12-13) at 1 Chapel Hill (22-4)
9   Eden Morehead (15-8) at 8 Spring Lake Overhills (17-8)
12 Mayodan Dalton McMichael (16-9) at 5 Southern Wayne (16-8)
13 Asheboro (13-13) at 4 Oxford Webb (21-5)
14 Orange (10-14) at 3 Eastern Alamance (22-5)
11 Southern Guilford (11-14) at 6 Southern Lee (14-10)
10 Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (15-11) at 7 Northern Guilford (15-12)
15 Fayetteville Douglas Byrd (10-15) at 2 Fayetteville Westover (21-4)

16 Central Cabarrus (10-15) at 1 Concord (22-2)
9   Weddington (14-12) at 8 China Grove Jesse Carson (17-10)
12 Anson (12-13) at 5 Charlotte Harding University (13-10)
13 West Rowan (12-13) at 4 Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (14-9)
14 Northwest Cabarrus (15-9) at 3 Statesville (20-3)
11 Kannapolis A.L. Brown (19-7) at 6 North Forysth (20-6)
10 Charlotte Berry Academy (13-10) at 7 Concord Cox Mill (17-10)
15 North Iredell (10-14) at 2 Northeast Guilford (22-3)

16 Gastonia Forestview (10-14) at 1 Gastonia Hunter Huss (21-3)
9  R-S Central (13-13) at 8 Franklin (18-8)
12 Shelby Crest (13-9) at 5 Asheville (16-9)
13 Asheville Erwin (14-11) at 4 Morganton Freedom (20-5)
14 Morganton Patton (7-18) at 3 Newton Fred T. Foard (22-4)
11 Hickory St. Stephens (19-7) at 6 Hickory (21-6)
10 Enka (12-14) at 7 Gastonia Ashbrook (18-8)
15 West Henderson (5-17) at 2 Waynesville Tuscola (23-4)


16  Northwest Halifax (13-9) at 1 Kinston (22-2)
9   Warren County (17-0) at 8 Pittsboro Northwood (16-10)
12 Wilson Beddingfield (12-10) at 5 Bertie (20-3)
13 Roanoke Rapids (14-11) at Elizabeth City Northeastern (21-4)
14 North Pitt (11-12) at Corinth Holders (22-3)
11 South Granville (16-01) at Farmville Central (20-5)
10 Edenton Holmes (14-7) at Bunn (20-6)
15 Durham School of the Arts (9-10) at 2 Carrboro (22-3)

16 SouthWest Edgecombe (13-10) at 1 Jacksonville Northside (22-3)
9  Newport Croatan (19-5) at 8 St. Pauls (16-8)
12 Siler City Jordan-Matthews (19-7) at 5 Burlington Cummings (20-4)
13 South Lenoir (14-10) at 4 North Brunswick (16-8)
14 East Duplin (8-17) at 3 Fairmont (21-5)
11 Eastern Randolph (16-10) at 6 Whiteville (19-7)
10 South Columbus (15-7) at 7 Clinton (19-7)
15 East Bladen (15-10 at 2 Graham (22-5)

16 High Point T.W. Andrews (8-16) at 1 Waxhaw Cuthbertson (24-3)
9 North Surry (9-16) at 8 Lexington (10-16)
12 Marshville Forest Hills (14-11) at 5 West Stokes (21-6)
13 East Davidson (8-17) at 4 Wilkes Central (21-5)
14 Ashe County (6-18) at 3 Trinity (19-4)
11 Randleman (17-7) at 6 Trinity Wheatmore (21-5)
10 Boonville Starmount (9-16) at 7 Monroe Piedmont (20-5)
15 Salisbury (9-17) at 2 Central Davidson (21-3)

16 South Iredell (6-18) at 1 Sylva Smoky Mountain (23-3)
9  Lincolnton (13-11) at 8 Canton Pisgah (16-10)
12 Black Mountain C.D. Owen (11-16) at 5 Burnsville Mountain Heritage (18-9)
13 North Lincoln (10-15) at 4 East Lincoln (19-4)
14 North Henderson (9-14) at 3 East Burke (22-5)
11 Newton-Conover (16-10) at 6 West Caldwell (20-5)
10 Madison (11-12) at 7 East Rutherford (21-6)
15 Claremont Bunker Hill (7-17) at 2 Shelby (23-3)


16 Williamston Riverside (10-14) at 1 Plymouth (23-0)
9   Weldon (10-14) at 8 Mattamuskeet (3-11)
5  Rocky Mount Prep (19-3, independent qualifier) at 12 Southeast Halifax (8-13)
13 Chocowinity Southside (13-13) at 4 Columbia (12-12)
14 North Carolina School of Science and Math (6-14) at 3 Saxapahaw River Mill Academy (14-12)
11 Franklin Academy (9-13) at 6 Robersonville South Creek (21-6)
10 Camden (18-7) at 7 Durham Voyager Academy (16-9)
15 Gates (6-18) at 2 Northampton (15-7)

16 Hobbton (11-13) at 1 East Carteret (21-5)
9   Rosewood (16-6) at 8 West Columbus (5-15)
12 Red Springs (6-16) at 5 Southwest Onslow (17-5)
13 Lakewood (10-13) at 4 East Columbus (11-12)
14 Princeton (9-16) at 3 Wallace-Rose Hill (19-7)
11 Pamlico (11-12) at 6 Union (15-11)
10 Pender (12-13) at 7 Ayden-Grifton (13-11)
15 Dixon (7-18) at 2 Goldsboro (17-6)

16 Chatham Central (7-15) at 1 Winston-Salem Prep (26-2)
9 North Moore (14-11) at 8 Monroe Central Academy (9-15)
12 Mount Airy (13-11) at 5 Albemarle (20-3)
13 West Montgomery (10-12) at 4 Lake Norman Charter (21-4)
14 East Montgomery (12-13) at 3 Monroe (21-4)
11 Gastonia Highland Tech (9-14) at 6 Bessemer City (18-7)
10 Kernersville Bishop McGuinness (14-11) at 7 South Stokes (15-10)
15 South Stanly (8-16) at  2 North Rowan (24-3)

16 Cherryville (11-14) at 1 Hendersonville (21-3)
9   Cherokee (14-12) at 8 Avery (12-14)
12 Mitchell (3-22) at 5 Swain (19-7)
13 Robbinsville (15-9) at 4 Highlands (15-10)
14 East Surry (15-11) at 3 Elkin (20-7)
11 Blue Ridge (8-16) at 6 North Wilkes (12-12)
10 West Wilkes (10-15) at 7 Hiwassee Dam (12-14)
15 Murphy (13-12) at 2 Hayesville (20-6)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A few thoughts on Harry Giles, best freshman I've seen in 20 years

I went to the High Point Wesleyan-Raleigh Ravenscroft state quarterfinal playoff game today to see and write about Wesleyan's 6-6 junior guard Theo Pinson. That story will run in Friday's editions of the Observer.

Pinson is as good as advertised. He's ranked No. 13 in the nation and it's easy to see why. He can jump out of the gym and get to the basket at will. I very much enjoyed his skill set.

I wrote in my notebook during the game:

-- "Reminds me a little of how Jerry Stackhouse attacked rim in high school.'
-- "Really wants the ball on defense when he wants it. Could be a lockdown defender if he chooses."
-- "Very long, athletic and as fast as anyone on the floor."
-- "Will be a major problem if he develops a jump shot."

But as I'm observing Pinson, I can't help but notice Wesleyan's freshman 6-8 power forward Harry Giles. He caught a pass flat footed -- in traffic -- and jumped off two feet, cocked the ball back with his right hand and slammed it in traffic.

Giles reminds me of former Clemson center (and LA Laker) Elden Campbell with how he looks, and Giles -- besides the obvious need for physical strength -- doesn't appear to have many weaknesses.

I saw him dribble the full the length of the floor a few times. I saw a smooth outside jump shot, stroked with the kind of confidence that only comes when you have made a lot of them in big situations. I shot shot blocking with the proper hand and phenomenal rebounding technique.

Giles runs the floor the way I used to see Antawn Jamison do it when he was at Providence High School. In fact, the 6-9 Jamison was the guy I kept thinking of when I saw Giles, and I don't think I've seen a better freshman since Jamsion, way back in the early '90s.

And a national college player of the year award and two max NBA deals later, Jamison's playing career didn't turn out too badly.

"Harry's special," said Wesleyan coach Keith Gatlin, a former ACC point guard at Maryland. "He's only 14 and doesn't turn 15 until April. It's amazing to see a kid who can move and handle (the ball) and pass like that. He's a joy to coach and he's a great kid."

I don't think Giles is done growing either. I spoke with his father, Harry Sr., who is a elementary school teacher in the Greensboro area. Harry Sr. is 6-6 and Giles' mother is 6-foot. There are 7-footers in the immediate family.

Last fall, Giles attended a USA Basketball mini-camp in Colorado for players who may be selected for this summer's U-16 team. ESPN national recruiting analyst Dave Telep, who attended the camp, thought Giles was the best player there.

"I spent three days with Harry Giles at USA Basketbal Tryouts," Telep said, "and you just left shaking your head at the things he can do as a 14-year-old basketball player. His awareness in the lane, his passing ability, his feel for the game is amazing. He was the best 2016 player at the camp."

By the time he's a senior, Giles may have a real shot to be the best high school player in America.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Olympic, readying for conference tournament, hitting its stride

Nationally ranked Olympic (22-0) has been dominant all season. Last week was no different with convincing wins against Berry (70-48) and Charlotte Catholic (84-50).

The Trojans, No. 1 in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll, begin ME-GA 7 conference tournament play Thursday at Charlotte Catholic.

At the CMS conference tournament seeding meeting Saturday morning, Charlotte Catholic coach Mike King told Ardrey Kell’s Mike Craft that he was impressed that a team like Olympic, with an abundance of individual talent, shares the basketball as well as it does.

“Hearing that from an opposing coach is good,” Trojans coach Ty Baumgardner said, “but it’s true. This group is just common, especially in this day and age when it’s all about me, me, me. They could care less who scores and who shoots. They just want to win. They share the ball and play well together and it all goes back to how close we are.”

Baumgardner said he’s been most impressed with how consistent his team has been. There haven’t been a lot of times when he didn’t think his team was playing at 100 percent effort and commitment.

“We’ve been real steady and I don’t read too much into scores,” he said. “I know people like to read into that, but you start doing that you start thinking about other things instead of playing the game the way you’re supposed to. I told the guys after the game Friday, ‘Hey proud of you for a great regular season, but a new season starts this week. The playoffs is a whole different ballgame.’”

Read more here:

Monday, February 18, 2013

4 new teams join Observer's Sweet 16 poll

Four new teams join the Sweet 16 poll this week, as conference tournament play begins for public schools and private schools kick off state championship week.

In the boys poll, still led by unbeaten Olympic at No. 1, Providence Day rejoins the poll after missing a few weeks. The Chargers won their first outright CISAA championship since 1999 last week and check iin at No. 14.

At No. 16 is East Burke (20-4). The Cavaliers won the Catawba Valley 2A championship outright with an 82-35 win over South Iredell Friday.

East Burke’s girls are also in at No. 16 as a new team this week. East Burke’s 60-48 win over South Iredell Friday secured a third straight 20-win season.

Gastonia’s Forestview High is the other new team in the girls poll. Forestview, a Sweet 16 regular in recent years, is in at No. 16.

Rk.    School (Class)    Rec.    Prv

1.    Olympic (4A)    22-0    1
2.    Hough (4A)    19-4    2
3.     West Charlotte (4A)    21-3    3
4.     Concord (3A)    21-1    5
5.    Vance (4A)    18-5    4
6.    Hunter Huss (3A)    19-3    6
7.    Shelby (2A)    21-3    7
8.    Rock Hill South Pointe (4A)    21-1    9
9.    Cuthbertson (2A)    22-2    10
10.    East Rutherford (2A)    18-5    8
11.    Independence (4A)    19-5    14
12.    Freedom (3A)    19-4    13
13.    North Rowan (1A)    21-3    16
14.    Providence Day (IND)    24-6    NR
15.    Ardrey Kell (4A)    20-4    11
16.    East Burke (2A)    20-4    NR

Dropped out: Mallard Creek (4A, 17-7); Hickory (3A, 19-5). Also receiving consideration:  Lake Norman Charter (1A, 16-4); Foard (2A, 20-4)


Rk.    School (Class)    Rec.    Prv
1.     Myers Park (4A)    24-0    1
2.    Ardrey Kell (4A)    22-2    3
3.    Porter Ridge (4A)   20-3    4
4.    North Mecklenburg (4A)    22-2    6
5.    Rock Hill Northwestern (4A)    21-2    8
6.    Hickory (3A)    22-2    9
7.    Providence Day (IND)    24-4    2
8.    Alexander Central (4A)    21-3    10
9.    Bandys (2A)    21-2    5
10.    Freedom (3A)    20-3    7
11.    Crest (3A)    17-3    12
12.    West Rowan (3A)    21-2    13
13.    Harding (3A)    16-4    15
14.    Weddington (3A)    19-5    14
15.    Forestview (3A)    17-6    NR
16.    East Burke (2A)    20-4    NR

Dropped out: South Point (3A, 18-4); Fred T. Foard (3A, 17-7). Also receiving consideration: Hough (4A, 16-6); Lake Norman Charter (1A, 18-4); Lincolnton (2A, 18-4);  Berry (3A, 17-6); North Iredell (3A, 15-6)?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fred T Foard, Newton-Conover win NCHSAA dual team wrestling championships

Fred T. Foard beat Eden Morehead 41-27 at home Saturday to win the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A dual-team championship.

Foard (39-2) won its first dual-team title.

Ben Hughes, Foard’s 138-pound wrestler, won by a pin and was named championship MVP. The Tigers also got pins from Trevor Cook (160), Caleb Bumgarner (170), Cameron Wilfong (195) and Dylan Curtis (285).
-- In 2A, Newton-Conover (43-5) beat Croatan 31-30 to win. Franklin Wepner, a 132-pounder for Newton-Conover, was named championship MVP. He won by pin. Newton-Conover’s Jarren Pitts (220) and Jonte Parker (126) also won by pin.

-- In 4A, Winston-Salem Parkland won its seventh straight championship beating Fayetteville’s Jack Britt High 28-20.
--  In 1A, North Rowan (27-3) lost 41-25 to West Wilkes. West Wilkes won its fourth straight championship. North Rowan was in the finals for the second time in three years.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Newton-Conover, Foard, N Rowan in dual team wrestling state finals Saturday

Championships in four classifications will be decided Saturday in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 24th annual dual team wrestling championships.
                  The championships are held on high school campuses, alternating years between Eastern and Western sites.  All of the teams advancing to the Saturday championship matches in 2-A, 3-A and 4-A earned a pair of victories on Thursday night to gain a shot at the state title, while the 1-A schools wrestled only the regional round with fewer schools in the tournament.
                  Winston-Salem Parkland (47-0) seeks its seventh consecutive dual team title, with three at the 3-A level and then the last three 4-A crowns.  The Mustangs will travel to Fayetteville to wrestle at Jack Britt for the 4-A championship at 5 pm.
                  Parkland has an incredible 51-8 record all-time in dual team wrestling playoff matches, in 17 appearances in the tournament.

                  The 3-A final sends Eden Morehead (21-6) to Fred T. Foard (38-2) in Catawba County to wrestle the Tigers in a 5 pm start. Morehead has five previous NCHSAA dual team championships but is in the finals for the first time since 2008. Foard is making its initial appearance in the dual team championships.

                  The matchup in 2-A has Newport Croatan (32-4) against another school located in Catawba County, Newton-Conover (42-5), with a 6 pm match time.  Croatan is in its fourth straight finals appearance and won state crowns in 2010 and ’11 before finishing as runner-up to Piedmont last year.   Newton-Conover beat Piedmont on Thursday night in the state semifinals to advance, rolling up a 36-3 lead in the match, and the Red Devils were state dual team runners-up three straight years in 2007-09.

                  In the 1-A championship, West Wilkes (16-1) hosts North Rowan (27-2). West Wilkes is the three-time defending 1-A champ and is in the finals for the fifth straight season. The 1-A final will start at 6 pm.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

CLASS 4-A CHAMPIONSHIP: Winston-Salem Parkland (46-0) at Fayetteville Jack Britt (33-7), weigh-ins at 4 pm, match at 5 pm

CLASS 3-A CHAMPIONSHIP: Eden Morehead (21-6) at Newton Fred T. Foard (38-2), weigh-ins at 4 p.m., match at 5 p.m.
CLASS 2-A CHAMPIONSHIP: Newton-Conover (42-5) at Newport Croatan (31-4), weigh-ins at 5 pm, match at 6 pm.

CLASS 1-A CHAMPIONSHIP: North Rowan (27-2) at West Wilkes (16-1), weigh-ins at 5 pm, match at 6 pm

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scott Stein named head coach at Myers Park

Scott Stein, the new head football coach at Myers Park, plans for his fifth head coaching job to be his final one.

“I told them that if they don’t like me in a year, I’ll go out to pasture and teach elementary kids PE,” said Stein, who turns 50 this summer. Stein has taught for 25 years. “I’m not sure if I’ll retire when I get my 30th year. But 30 years is a long time to do anything. If it’s comfortable here, I’ll continue to coach. If not, you retire and do other things with your life. I’ve got three beautiful grandkids and they’re the most important thing in my life outside of my faith. The oldest one will be my ballboy.”

Stein’s first official day is Thursday, when he’ll visit the Mustangs after school and get the team started on his offseason workout program. Stein takes over a team that was 6-6 last season and made back-to-back playoff appearances under previous coach Greg Taylor. Taylor was fired earlier this year with school officials saying they wanted to take the team in a different direction.

Stein returns to Mecklenburg County after 10 years at Indian Trail’s Sun Valley High in Union County. His teams were 72-52. Before Stein arrived, Sun Valley had gone 5-28 in three seasons.
Stein has a history of turning programs around. He went 6-4 in one season at Central Cabarrus, a school that had gone eight years without a winning record. He was 22-20 at Olympic and led the Trojans to their third 4A playoff appearance in school history while he was there in the late ‘90s. He was 25-13 at East Mecklenburg with three playoff appearances.

Myers Park athletics director Rick Lewis said he hopes that Stein brings that same kind of winning spirit to his school. He said Stein was chosen from more than 50 applicants and four finalists.

“I’m tickled to death,” Lewis said. “Everywhere he’s been, he’s turned the program around. Here, the cupboard is not empty and he’s got an opportunity do some really good things for us.”

Stein said he’d always looked at Myers Park as a potential powerhouse.

“It’s got a great group of kids,” he said, “a great community and it’s one of the largest schools in the state. I always kind of felt that one day maybe I’d have an opportunity to get in there and see what I can do with it.”

Stein said he plans to bring the high-powered passing offense he used at Sun Valley, but that he wanted to get back to his defensive roots.

“We’ll be out to build the best program we can,” he said. “We won’t be afraid of anybody. And I think the kids will have a blast. We’ll hit people hard. My heart is defensive football but my career has taken an offensive twist. But at the end of the day, I love defensive football and they’ve got the kids and athletes to play that way. And I think the kids on offense will flourish in my system.”

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday's top high school basketball performers

Akela Branch, Albemarle girls: 22 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three assists in 43-35 win against Gray Stone Day.
CJ Bryce, Hopewell: 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals in a 55-52 loss to Mallard Creek. Dominique Williams had 21 for the winners.
Bryanna Curry, Hopewell girls: 17 points, five rebounds, two assists in 54-50 upset of Mallard Creek.
Jessica Gaston, West Charlotte girls: 13 points, 15 rebounds, four steals in 48-39 loss to Lake Norman. Teammate Me’shell Puryear finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four steals.
Jasmine Gray, West Meck girls: 17 points, 11 steals, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 58-20 win against Garinger.
Keith Griffin, Hickory Grove: 23 points in 56-45 win against Covenant Day. Teammate Dustin Dodd had 21.
Keousha Griffin, Harding girls: 16 points, 13 rebounds, four assists in 61-48 win against Olympic.
Raekwon Long, Garinger: 7-foot freshman had 24 points, 19 rebounds, 12 blocks in a 67-63 win against West Mecklenburg.
Nehemiah Mabson, United Faith: 20 points, 10 rebounds in a 74-58 win against Flora Macdonald. The Falcons, not eligible for the playoffs, end the season on a 10-game win streak for second-year coach Muggsy Bogues. United Faith (19-5) was unbeaten in the Southern Piedmont conference.
Tyrell Nelson, Metrolina Christian: 24 points, 17 rebounds, five steals, three assists in a 97-49 win over Gaston Christian. Josh Dominquez had 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals and Alec Bross had 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals for Metrolina.
Isiah Taylor, Myers Park: 25 points, four rebounds in 81-77 win over South Meck in OT. Taylor made 7 of 9 three-point attempts. Grant Hedberg (27 points) and CJ Thompson (22) had big games for South.
Stephanie Watts, Weddington girls: 19 points, 14 steals, 10 rebounds in a 56-27 win against Sun Valley. Watts’ teammate, Bailee Carter, added 19.
Jatarie White, Providence Day girls: 30 points, 13 rebounds, three steals in 70-31 win against Country Day. Teammate Jada Brayboy had 23 points, six steals and four assists.
Sierra Wiley, Lake Norman Charter girls: 15 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists in a 66-34 win against Highland Tech. Lake Norman Charter is 16-4, 10-1 in league play and has won 10 straight games.

Read more here:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Swap of legends: Latin loses volleyball coach Suzie Pignetti, hires AKell's Zoe Bell

Charlotte Latin’s volleyball program swapped two legendary coaches Thursday.

Suzie Pignetti announced she is retiring July 1, and the school announced it was hiring former Ardrey Kell coach Zoe Bell.

Pignetti will resign her position as assistant athletics director and coach after leading Charlotte Latin to nine straight state championships.

Pignetti has coached at Latin since 2001. The team won 11 straight conference championships.

Pignetti coached for 35 years at Latin, Butler and Charlotte Country Day, amassing a 745-120 record. Her teams won 29 conference championships and 15 state titles.

Pignetti coache 18 high school players and 35 club players who played in college and was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association national coach of the year in 2012.

A breast cancer survivor, Pignetti helped start an annual tournament called “Serve For The Cure” that has raised more than $300,000 for breast cancer research in 11 years.

Bell, who replaces Pignetti, led Ardrey Kell to a state championship last year. She has more than 30 years of coaching experience in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and led powerhouse programs at Ardrey Kell and Providence to 13 Southwestern 4A conference titles and five N.C. 4A state championships.

“Zoe is widely recognized and respected as a winning volleyball coach in North Carolina and surrounding states,” Pignetti said in a written statement. “In addition to being one of the best volleyball coaches in the area, Zoe is also an experienced school administrator. Her professionalism is a well-balanced blend of competence, experience and cordiality. She will fit in very comfortably with the professional educators at Charlotte Latin.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Area college signees

Here are area high school athletes who signed National Letters of Intent Wednesday

A.L. Brown: Amber Watkins (UNC-Pembroke, Women's Soccer) Erik Amaya (JCSU, Football); JP Lott (JCSU, Football); Keeon Johnson (Virginia, Football); Kalif Phillips (Charlotte, Football); Brandon Parker (NC A&T, Football); Dante' Pinkston (Averett University, Football)
Albemarle: RJ Prince (North Carolina, football)
Ardrey Kell: TJ Stubbs (Lehigh, football); Jonny Moore (Charleston, football); Kalen Elkins (Lenoir-Rhyne, football); Josh Allen (Guilford, football); Reggie Woods (Charlotte, football); Samantha Teague (East Carolina, women's swimming); Sydney Teague (East Carolina, women's swimming); Brooke Howell (Wingate, women's soccer); Samantha Lawson (Mars Hill, women's soccer); Michael Roberts (Kenyon College, tennis)
Ashbrook: Demetrius Oliver (Elon University, football); Anthony Hambright (Elon University, football); Grant Stafford (Wingate University, football); E.J. Vanderpuye (Limestone College, football); Chance Barnett (Limestone College, football); Brian Jackson (Limestone College, football)
Nick Fuller (Belmont-Abbey College, Soccer); Ronnie Hernandez (Limestone College, Soccer)
Burns: Damerrian Petty (Ball State, football); Tra Hunt (Howard, football); Katlin Burns (Brevard, soccer)
Butler: Kameron Billings (Limestone College, Football); Michael Boykin (Mars Hill, Football); Jessica Bunce (Lees McCrae, Soccer); Hollie Champion (UNC Wilmington, Tennis); Riley Ferguson (University of Tennessee, Football); Josh Glisson (Winston Salem State University, Football); Malachi Hanes (Catawaba, Football and Baseball); Peter Kalambayi (Stanford University, Football); Spencer Kendall (Averett University, Football); Uriah Lemay (University of Georgia, Football); Josephy Moody (Concord University, Football); David Moore (Ball State University, Football); Grant Polofsky (Davidson University, Football); Channing Stribling (University of Michigan, Football); Sean Wiggins (Ball State University, Football)
Carson: CJ Cain (Catawba, football); TJ Bell (Wingate, football)
Central Cabarrus: Chase Hunter (Tusculum, football)
Charlotte Catholic: Chris Claire (High Point, baseball); Jordan Accetta (Wofford, baseball); Chris Claire (Hight Point, baseball); Christian Schwartz (Limestone, baseball); Mark Pollack (Army, basketball); Keegan Hoff (Richmond, golf); Tafon Mainsah (Richmond, football); Ryan Barkely (Coastal Carolina, football); Justin Shear (Clemson, soccer); Roland Minogue (N.C. State, soccer); Jane Cline (App State, women's soccer); Nick Sawyer (Loyola, lacrosse); Conner Flynn (Denver, lacrosse); Rachel Wallon (St. Francis, women's lacrosse); Maureen Wilkenson (Citadel, volleyball)
Charlotte Christian: Jared Odenbeck (Georgetown University, soccer), Ben Weathers (Gardner-Webb University, soccer), Cameron Botes (Lipscomb University, soccer), Des Lawrence (UNC Chapel Hill, football), Adrian Robinson (Colorado State University, football), Wes Medeiros (Norwich University, football), and Eric Lynch (Tusculum College, football).
Charlotte Latin: Ashley Finke (Davidson, soccer); Chuka Anyafo (Lafayette College, soccer); James Mingoes (Siena College, soccer); Alex Julian (Northwestern University, track & field)
Chase: Tray Watkins (S.C. State, football)
Cherryville: Daniel Owens (Wingate, football)
Clover: Naomi Matley (Wingate, women's soccer); Samantha Ptytulack (Winthrop, women's soccer); Madison Tepenhatdt (Newberry, softball); Garett Hills (Texas Christian, swimming)
Concord: Sarah Bertram (Gardner-Webb, Women's Golf), Brianna Clark (Pfeiffer, Women's Swimming)
Country Day: Lauren McFayden (Davidson, field hockey); Reavis Ford (Elon University, football); Alex Gakenheimer (Dartmouth College, football); Ben Kepley (Dartmouth College, football); Jimmy Kleitches (Washington and Lee University, football);  Michael Radford (Wake Forest University, football), Sean Stranick (Kenyon College, football); Adelaide Cummings (Davidson, soccer)
Covenant Day: Shelby Nassar (Wingate, volleyball); Hannah Holbrook (Wingate, track); Kate Carter (Davidson, women's swimming)
Cox Mill: Diron Chloe (Mercer, football); Malik Johnson (Morehouse, football); Ryan Hill (Tusculum, football); Dean Ramsey (Emory and Henry, football); Colby Gunter (Emory and Henry, football; Matt Jean-Giles (Tusculum, football)
Crest: Dane Rogers (Clemson, football); Quinton Patterson (N.C. State, football); Michael Smith (Lenoir-Rhyne, football)
Cuthbertson: Zach Panek (Wingate, football); Matt McGinnis (Valparaiso, football); Luke Fussy (Malone University, football); Ryan Torsza (Delaware, football); Madison Simmons (App State, track/cross-country; Phenix Durham (Lees-McRae, soccer)
Davidson Day: Aaron Seward (Carson-Newman, football; Maddy Clark (Presbyterian, women's soccer); Caitlyn Rodrigues (Queens, women's soccer); Ciara Murphy (USC-Upstate, women's soccer); Schuyler Coleman (UNC, football); Jordan Young (Cornell, football)
Draughn: Clint Spinks (Brevard, football)

East Burke:  Robbie Mcgee (Brevard College, Football), Matt Whisnant (Emory & Henry, Football); Clay Byrd (UNC-Greensboro, basketball)
East Mecklenburg: David Marvin (Wofford, football)
First Assembly: Sheldon Williams (Campbell, football)
Forest Hills: Roderick Poag (Western Carolina, football
Forestview: Josh Mills (Wingate, football)
Garinger: Kemmi Pettway (North Carolina, football)
Gaston Christian: Scout Monteith (Lipscomb, soccer); Karis Hoover (North Greenville, soccer); Katherine Smith (Barton, women's soccer)
Hickory Ridge: DJ Freeman (Tusculum, football)
Highland Tech: James Taylor (Limestone, football)
Hopewell: Michael Zanders (Gannon, football); Kailan Chavis (Gannon, football)
Hough: Blake Dueitt (Ball State, football); Brandi Arey (Gardner-Webb, women's soccer); Courtney Crump (UNC-Wilmington, women's soccer); Brianna Cuevas (Western Carolina, women's soccer); Lydia Drakeford (Queens, women's soccer); Mike Hart (Courtland, lacrosse)
Independence: Jack Tocho (N.C. State, football); Nick Salisbury (Liberty, baseball)
Lake Norman Charter: Alex Scearce (Coastal Carolina, football); Carolyn Huddy (UNC- Wilmington, women's soccer); Carolina Sanchez (UNC-Pembroke, women's soccer) Carson McNamara (Surry Community College, baseball)
Lake Norman: Ben Steen(Appachian State, soccer); Kendall Fischlein(Wake Forrest, soccer); John Suther(Queens Uni, swim); Cody Karns(UNC-CH, wrestling).
Maiden: Austin Wright (Brevard, football)
Mallard Creek: Marquez North (Tennessee, football); Anthony Covington (App State, football); Dorian Jordan (Citadel, football); Tevin Lawshe (Charlotte, football); Omari Watson (Brevard, football); Eric Henderson (W. Virginia Wesleyan, football); Kim Olige (Charleston, football); Brandon Fowler (Concord, football); Jay Horton (Furman, football); Brian Walker (North Carolina, football); Zach Boyd (Carson-Newman, football)
Marvin Ridge: Kendon Corbett (Wingate, track/cross-country); Madison Martin (Air Force, women's soccer)
Metrolina Christian: John Wilson (Bridgewater College, football); Caleb Breeden (Charleston-Southern, track/cross-country); Nora Logan (Carson-Newman,women's soccer)
Monroe: Qua'Shaun Chambers (Duke University, Football); Jermany Hammond (Johnson C Smith, Football);   LaVonte Baker (Elizabeth City State University, Football)
Mooresville: Dre' Howell (Elon, football); Joe Robinson (Maryville, football)
Mount Pleasant: Hannah Cruse (Lees-McRae, soccer)
Myers Park: Jack Knight (Princeton, football); Quan Austin (Guilford, football); India Timpton (UNC-Greensboro, women's basketball); Ross Groome (Wingate, baseball); Ryan Ahlum (Brevard, baseball); Andy Simmons (Davidson, golf); Phillip Oweida (High Point, golf); Austin Morrison (William & Mary, golf); Davis Morrison (William & Mary, golf); Reid Foley (Air Force, lacrosse); Drew Ortiz (High Point, lacrosse); Duffy Suhr (Lynchburg, golf); Bryant Portwood (Centre College, lacrosse); Ellison Sherrill (Hamilton, women's lacrosse); Courtney Etheridge (North Greenville, women's soccer; Kathryn Riley (Washington & Lee, women's soccer); Caroline Alexander (Alabama, women's soccer); Kwame Donyinah (North Carolina, track)
Newton-Conover:  Chandler Johnson (Lenoir-Rhyne, soccer); Marquis Pope (St. Augustine's, football)
North Gaston: Sullivan Owens (St. Andrews, volleyball)
North Mecklenburg: Tahjai Watt (Western Carolina, football)
Northwestern: Shug Baxter (Central Missouri, football); O'Daryl Davis-Douglas (Central Missouri, football)
Olympic: Donte Hoskins (Howard, football); Evan Patrick (Limestone, football); Emily Lopez (UNC-Greensboro, softball)
Porter Ridge: Ryan Dilworth (Wingate, football); Chris Duffy (Charlotte, footbal); Matt Wogan (Oregon, football); Avery Worsham (Western Carolina, football)
Providence: Daniel Garces (Ball State, football); Jaleel Roberts (Lenoir-Rhyne, football); Trevor Sheets (Campbell, football)
Providence Day: Linley Busby (Villanova University, Tennis); John Carrick (Washington and Lee University, Football); Chase Ferguson (Butler University, Football); Bryon Fields (Duke University, Football); Grant McGarity (Limestone College, Football).
Rock Hill: Jaleel Scott (Hutchinson Community College, football)
Rocky River: Sidney Lawson (Winston-Salem State, football); Brandon Harris (Winston-Salem State, football)
Shelby: Erik McCauley (Fordham, football)
South Iredell: Scott Miller (Campbell, football); LaChaston Smith (Virginia, football); Kaitlyn Kent (Air Force, women's swimming); Miracle Campbell (Pfeiffer, women's soccer); Ashlyn Pierce (Pembroke, women's soccer); Kane Sutten (Rockingham CC, baseball); Brianna Williams (Lenoir-Rhyne, women's golf)
SouthLake Christian: Andre Diouf (Central Florida, soccer); Christian Mcarthur (Mars Hill, soccer); Tyler Rhem-Stubbs (Erskine, soccer); Demetri Allison (Elon, football); Andrew Rhem-Stubbs (Brevard, soccer)
South Point: Devan Robbins (Citadel, football)
South Pointe: Devin Pearson (UNCC, football), Armon Lindsay (SC State, football), CJ Pendergrass (Mercer, football), Dakota Mozingo (Newberry, football), Devin Starnes (Tusculum, football)
South Mecklenburg: Sam Bramlett (Washington & Lee, football); Brandon Floyd (Catawba, football); CJ Thompson (Coastal Carolina, football)
South Stanly: Jordan Starnes (Charlotte, football)
Statesville: Carlis Parker (Virginia Tech, football); Tristan Mumford (East Carolina, football); Breon Borders (Duke, football); Marquis Willis (Concord Univ, football); Justin Daniels (Limestone, football); Torie Sharpe (St. Aug's, football); Stewart Sherrill (Lenoir-Rhyne, football); Meredith Summer (Johnson & Wales, volleyball)
Statesville Christian: Emma Ferguson (Coker, women's soccer)
Thomas Jefferson: Nathaniel Devon (Mars Hill, football); Anna Dedmon (UNCC, Womens's soccer); McKinnon Martin (UNC-Chapel Hill, football)
Union Academy: Ra'sheed Rushing (Elizabeth City State, football)
Vance:  Jalen Latter (Wake Forest, football); Nolan Corpening (Charlotte, football); Larenz Bryant (South Carolina, football); Brandon Hudson (Navy, football); Jerome Beatty (NC A&T, football); Justin Fritts (Liberty, football); Kirk Donaldson (East Carolina, football); Josh Williams ( Hargrave Military, football); Rashaad Brown (Fork Union, football; Hans Honer (Charlotte, soccer)
Victory Christian: Travis Brown (Howard, football)
West Charlotte: Blake Porter (Hampton, football)
Weddington: Matthew Burns (App State, track); Mallary Price (App State, track); Billy Ryan (Citadel, football)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jeremy Ritter, Davon Bell, the Amazing Assist Men at Northside Christian High

I’m amazed at Northside Christian’s Jeremy Ritter and Davon Bell, who both average more than eight assists per game. Teammate Keyshawn Woods averages six. In an era of me-first basketball, coach Byron Dinkins really has his team sharing the ball.

In fact, eight players in the Observer’s coverage area average six or more assists. That’s good – and rare – to see.

click here to see area leaders

Read more here: