Friday, August 29, 2014

Two Observer-area baseball players make USA U18 national team

Two Observer-area baseball players were named to the USA Baseball U18 team Friday.

Berry High's Xavier LeGrant and Marvin Ridge pitcher Max Wotell made the team.

LeGrant, 6-foot and 180 pounds, can run a 60-yard dash in 6.97 seconds. LeGrant consistently made big plays at the Tournament of Stars in Houston, which was part of the selection process for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. 

Wotell, an Arizona commit, is a left-hander.

Logan Tolbert of Piedmont Wren (S.C.) High also made the team. Tolbert is a 6-3, 180-pound pitcher/shortshop.

The USA team practiced together Friday before a four-game series against Canada Saturday. The team will compete in the COPABE Pan American Championships in Lagos de Moreno and Aguascalientes, Mexico, Sept. 5-14.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Charlotte Hoops Challenge Schedule released

The schedule for the 2014 Charlotte Hoops Challenge is out. The Challenge is Friday and Saturday, Nov. 28-29, at Myers Park High School.

The tournament features several marquee matchups, including Ardrey Kell's girls against Providence Day, matching the N.C. 4A public school semifinalists against the N.C. 3A private school state champions, and Myers Park's girls against Weddington. Myers Park won the N.C. 4A state title. Weddington made the N.C. 3A semifinals.

On the boys side, Providence Day will meet Hough in a rematch of last year's matchup when Providence Day, ranked No. 2 in the Observer's Sweet 16, beat No. 1 Hough. N.C. 2A state power Victory Christian, expected to challenge for a state title, will face N.C. 4A state finalist Lake Norman. Also, a rare public-private matchup between Myers Park and Charlotte Latin.

Here are the pairings:

Nov. 28

Gym 1: Rocky River vs. Gaston Day, 1:30 p.m.; West Oak vs. Winston-Salem Quality Education, 3 p.m.; East Hall girls vs. Northside, 4:30 p.m.

Gym 2: South Meck girls vs. Charlotte Christian, 1 p.m.; South Meck vs. Davidson Day, 2:30 p.m.; Providence Day vs. Hamilton Heights, 4 p.m.; Ardrey Kell girls vs. Providence Day, 5:30 p.m.; Myers Park vs. Charlotte Latin, 7 p.m.

Nov. 29

Gym 1: Providence Day girls vs. East Hall; Robinson vs. Weddington, 3 p.m.; Kennedy Charter vs. Mountain Mission, 4:30 p.m.

Gym 2: Hamilton Heights vs. West Oak, 1 p.m.; Victory Christian vs. Lake Norman, 2:30 p.m.; Ardrey Kell vs. Davidson Day, 4 p.m.; Myers Park girls vs. Weddington, 5:30 p.m.; Hough vs. Providence Day, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

High School Sports participation reaches record numbers in 2013-14

NFHS release:
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 20, 2014) — The number of participants in high school sports increased for the 25th consecutive year in 2013-14 with a record total of almost 7.8 million, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Based on figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia, sports participation for the 2013-14 school year reached an all-time high of 7,795,658 – an increase of 82,081 from the previous year. This one-year increase was the highest since 2009-10.
Girls participation increased for the 25thconsecutive year with an additional 44,941 participants from 2012-13 and set an all-time record of 3,267,664. Boys participation eclipsed 4.5 million for the first time (4,527,994), breaking the mark of 4,494,406 in 2010-11.
The increase in boys participation was due in part to the first increase in football numbers in five years. An additional 6,607 boys participated in 11-player football in 2013-14, pushing this past year’s total to 1,093,234. In addition, another 1,715 girls participated in 11-player football last year, an increase of 184 from the previous year.
“We are pleased with the increase in participation numbers in the sport of football for the 2013-14 school year,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “With the precautions that are in place nationwide to address concussions in all high school sports, including football, we have maintained that the risk of injury is as low as it ever has been. Certainly, this rise in football numbers is a confirmation of those beliefs and indicates the strong continued interest nationwide in high school football.”
Among the top 10 boys sports, baseball registered the largest gain with an additional 7,838 participants, followed by football and soccer (6,437). The top 10 boys sports remained unchanged from last year: football, outdoor track and field, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, cross country, tennis, golf, and swimming and diving.
Volleyball gained the most participants among girls sports (9,426) from the previous year, and its total of 429,634 was within 3,710 of basketball for the No. 2 position. Track and field, with an additional 5,946 participants from 2012-13, remained the No. 1 sport for girls, followed by basketball, volleyball, soccer, fast-pitch softball, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads and lacrosse.
“This past year’s report on sports participation in our nation’s high schools was another great statement about the importance of these education-based programs,” Gardner said. “We are encouraged that schools are continuing to respond to the funding challenges, and are particularly pleased to see that the increase this past year was evenly distributed between boys and girls.”
In terms of combined participation, lacrosse continued to register sizeable increases as overall participation for boys and girls increased by 9,744 to 188,689. The sport ranks 10th for girls and 11th for boys.
The top 10 states by participants remained in the same order as last year, with Texas and California topping the list with 805,299 and 783,008, respectively. The remainder of the top 10 was New York (389,475), Illinois (343,757), Ohio (325,448), Pennsylvania (317,318), Michigan (299,246), New Jersey (285,020), Florida (268,266) and Minnesota (232,909). Overall, 33 states reported higher figures from the previous year, up from 30 states that had increases the previous year.
The participation survey has been compiled since 1971 by the NFHS through numbers it receives from its member associations. The complete 2013-14 High School Athletics Participation Survey is attached in PDF format and will be posted soon on the NFHS website at

Friday, August 15, 2014

NCHSAA Western Basketball Regionals moving back to Winston-Salem

NCHSAA News Release:

CHAPEL HILL—The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has announced its two regional basketball tournament sites for the 2014-15 season.

                  The Eastern Regional event will once again be played in Fayetteville, while the Western Regional tournament will return to Winston-Salem after a stint in Greensboro. The dates for the tournaments are March 3 through March 7.

                  In the Eastern Regional, games will be held at the Crown Coliseum complex, at both the Crown Arena and Crown Coliseum.  In Winston-Salem, tournament games are planned at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the coliseum annex.

                  “We are pleased to be returning to the Crown Coliseum complex for our Eastern Regional basketball tournament as well as to Winston-Salem for our Western Regional. We are extending the contracts at the two sites for an additional year,” said Davis Whitfield, NCHSAA commissioner.  “The Cumberland County schools have been an exceptional host in the East, and the city of Fayetteville and the Crown complex have worked hard to provide a wonderful atmosphere for our participating schools.

                 “And due to other needs for the Greensboro Special Events Center, the Greensboro Sports Commission,  Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem have once again opened their athletic facilities to the NCHSAA for our event.  In typical Wake Forest fashion, we anticipate our student-athletes will have a first-class experience.”

                  Whitfield also said that the University of North Carolina at Greensboro had been a great host for Western Regional games during the last few years and noted the university’s continuing willingness to work with the NCHSAA.

                  Fayetteville had been an Eastern Regional host city earlier, with the tournament calling Cumberland County home from 1987 through '90. The regionals were held in Greenville from 1990 until the 2010-11 season, when they moved back to Fayetteville, where they have been for the past four years.  Winston-Salem hosted the Western tournament for several years until it moved to Greensboro, where it has been since 2009.

                  Winners through the NCHSAA playoffs eventually advance to regional play, with four men's teams and four women's teams from each classification qualifying. The winners from the regionals advance to state championship games.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Muggsy camp, Country Day soccer to benefit underprivileged children in area

Two local events this weekend and next week will benefit underprivileged youth in the Charlotte area.

-- Charlotte Country Day will host a night of champions Saturday, Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by Soccer Shots and Dr. Don D'Alessandro of OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine Center.

Six area schools are participating: Providence Day, Charlotte Catholic, Country Day, Garinger, Myers Park and Providence. Admission is $5 for fans over the age of 10. Proceeds support medical clinics in the Charlotte area that provide free services to underprivileged neighborhoods and families. 

-- Muggsy Bogues annual back to school camp starts Monday Aug. 11 at Crews Road Rec Center in Matthews. Bogues, a former Hornets point guard, will be in attendance and plans to have several current Hornets also make appearances.

Campers get free gear donated by Muggsy's shoe company sponsor and a catered lunch. Bogues, who will also be Grand Marshall for the Matthews Alive parade Aug. 30, started the camp in 1989. Bogues' non-profit Always Believe foundation is sponsoring 10 at-risk youth to attend the camp.

Information: 704-430-6149

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fayetteville's Kwe Parker the insane dunking machine

In 26 years of covering high school basketball, I've seen a lot of great dunkers. For me, the best I've seen in person is Vince Carter. Gerald Henderson, now of the Hornets, and LeBron James were also pretty amazing in high school.

I once saw former Providence High and UNC star Antawn Jamison jump one foot inside the free throw line -- in a game -- and throw one down left-handed (Jamison is a rightie).

But there's a kid playing right now who will give any of them a run for their money.

Fayetteville's Kwe Parker impressed me catching alley-oops from teammate Dennis Smith as a 9th grader when Parker and Smith were teammates at Fayetteville's Trinity Christian High. I've seen Parker make some absolutely silly dunks in warm-ups before Trinity Christian games and I've seen him make a few in games that made you look at your neighbor and shake your head ("Did you see that?").

Smith, a 6-2 junior point guard, has gone onto become one of the nation's top 10 in his class and one of North Carolina's best three players, period. Parker has become one of the most famous players in his class because of his unique jumping ability. A high major Division I recruit, Parker will play at High Point Wesleyan this season, leaving Smith but joining another top national recruit, 6-9 junior Harry Giles.

Here is a new video of Parker dunking (the right-hander nearly touches the rim with his head before tossing in a left-handed tip dunk that would win many a dunk competition).