Last season, Olympic ascended to No. 1 in the Observer's Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
Friday night, Olympic may've hit another milestone, grabbing the biggest win in school history.
Some historians may argue, but I'd peg Olympic's 71-68 win over West Charlotte in the championship game of the Upward Classic as the biggest in school history. And it may be the first of two meetings between the teams this year.
For years, West Charlotte, No. 3 in the current Sweet 16 poll, has been the king of Mecklenburg County public school basketball, and in some respects all of Mecklenburg County ball. The Lions have won five state championships since 1986 and are the current reigning champions. They have long been the measuring stick for county teams.
Olympic, currently No. 1 in the Sweet 16, has not won games like this often, most famously being blown out 12 years ago at the old Charlotte Coliseum by West Charlotte in probably the Trojans' biggest game before this, with 15 college coaches, including former Georgetown coach John Thompson (the father of the current coach) in attendance.
This time, the Trojans did it in front of a huge crowd in Spartanburg, S.C., and in front of regional recruiting people and college scouts. It's the kind of win that will make the Trojans the favorite to win the N.C. 4A championship and the kind of win that will make people look forward to a potential rematch in the N.C. 4A regionals.
The teams were in line to play in the regional championship last March before Olympic was upset in the regional semifinals. It'll be interesting to see what happens if the pairings open up to allow it to happen again this year.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Last season, Olympic ascended to No. 1 in the Observer's Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Get live score updates at twitter.com/langstonwertzjr by clicking this link
Northside Christian 77, Mooresville 48
Mooresville 2 10 18 18 -- 48
Northside 23 15 25 14 -- 77
MOORESVILLE 48 -- Shawn Lester 20, Montgomery 8, Howell 3, Kendrick Johnson 11, Warren 3, Samuel 3
NORTHSIDE 77 -- Ashford 9, Cooks 9, Dionte Adams 16, Justin Gordon 15, James Logan 10, Ritter 5, Bell 8, Morrison 5
Observer All-Tournament team boys: Justin Gordon, Northside (MVP); Dionte Adams, Northside; Donte’ Clark, Kennedy Charter; Shawn Lester, Mooresville; Rashun Davis, Davidson Day
Berry 48, Ardrey Kell 45 OT
Ardrey Kell 17 8 13 7 0 -- 45
Berry 12 11 15 7 3 -- 48
ARDREY KELL 45 -- Anderson 8, Christelle Shembo 19, Jordan Muhammad 10, Dean 6, Bradbury 2
BERRY 48 -- Essence Baucom 14, Imani Parr 11, Quinn 7, Jessica Marcus 12, Brown 4
Observer All-Tournament team girls: None were officially announced but here’s ours: Essence Baucom, Berry (MVP); Jessica Marcus, Berry; Christelle Shembo, Ardrey Kell; Bre Armstrong, Forestview; Jordan Strode, Hickory Ridge
Boys Third Place
Davidon Day 69, Kennedy Charter 63
Davidson Day 16 16 17 20 -- 69
Kennedy Charter 17 16 15 15 -- 63
DAVIDSON DAY 69 -- Rashun Davis 13, Brown 7, Dorian Albritton 11, Phillip Anglade 17, Mercer 3, DJ Carnegie 15, Eddie 3
KENNEDY CHARTER 63 -- Gladden 9, Donte Clark 18, JJ Douglas 16, White 8, Julius Hamilton 10, Cherry 2
Ardrey Kell 4 6, Forestview 43
Ardrey Kell 10 13 12 11 -- 46
Forestview 16 9 8 10 -- 43
ARDREY KELL 46 -- Sellers 4, Small 3, Cooper 2, Pollard 6, Elvis Kisonas 14, Steven Santa-Ana 10, Scott 7
FORESTVIEW 43 -- Dominique Adams 11, Kevin Clyburn 12, Johnson 5, Devante Machins 10, Nichols 2, Wallace 3
First Assembly 67, Queens Grant 56
First Assembly 18 19 10 20 -- 67
Queens Grant 14 10 13 19 -- 56
FIRST ASSEMBLY 67 -- Jon Allison 20, Andrew Wheet 15, Nate Cantadore 12, Williams 8, Will Nork 1, Colman 2
QUEENS GRANT 56 -- Trey Brown 16, Kriston Beasley 13, Adams 1, Green 5, Sawyer 3, Harris 1, Davis 2, Boyette 3, Justice Singletary 10, Johnson 2
Anson girls 54, Hough 44
Hough 14 14 3 13 -- 44
HOUGH 44 -- DeMarcus 2, Anna Diggs 27, Arey 6, Dean 7, Montgomery 1, Fisher 1
ANSON 54 -- Keyara McKnight 20, Alderson 8, Jillian Murray 13, Robinson 8, Little 2, McRae 1, Pauldo 2
Hickory Ridge girls 61, Forestview 55 OT
Forestview 10 14 14 10 7 -- 55
Hickory Ridge 10 13 14 11 13 -- 61
FORESTVIEW 55 -- Smith 9, Bre Armstrong 14, Gardin 6, Britnee Roberts 20, Joyner 4, Harris 2
HICKORY RIDGE 61 -- Tia Evans 14, Davis 5, Cachine 2, Little 2, Jordan Strode 34, Johnson 1, Copeland 3
Covenant Day girls 45, Queens Grant 39
Covenant Day 6 11 9 19 -- 45
Queens Grant 4 7 9 19 -- 39
COVENANT DAY 45 -- Anna Melton 16, Brace 6, Morgan Mosteller 13, Fultz 2, Hite 4, Manns 4
QUEENS GRANT 39 -- Longmire 8, Graves 4, Ciera Rucker 15, Siamos 5, Staton 5, Clifton 2
Up, Crowds and environment: The boys' semifinals were played in a loud gym in front of a good crowd. Felt like old times.
Up, Tonight's girls' final: Berry and Ardrey Kell could reach the N.C. 3A and N.C. 4A Western Regionals this season. This will be a high-level championship game.
Wednesday's Top Performers
Christelle Shembo, Ardrey Kell girls: 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists in 52-45 win over Forestview
Essence Baucom, Berry girls: 18 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals for 5-foot-6 Alabama-Birmingham recruit in 47-43 overtime win over Hickory Ridge that put Berry in the final for the second straight year.
Shawn Lester, Mooresville: 26 points, eight rebounds, three steals, three blocks, two assists in 59-57 overtime win over Davidson Day in the semifinals.
Justin Gordon, Northside Christian: 6-6 forward had 24 points on 11-for-15 shooting and eight rebounds in 83-79 overtime win over Kennedy Charter.
B.J. Gladden, Kennedy Charter: 20 points, on 3-for-4 3-point shooting, plus six rebounds and four steals in Northside Christian game. Teammate Jalen White had 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
-- For the first time since 2008, this felt like the old Bojangles' Shootout. A big, loud crowd for the boys' semifinals and two wonderful games. And tonight's two boys' games (5:10, 8:30) should be just as good.
-- Keep an eye on Davidson Day, Kennedy Charter, Mooresville and Northside the rest of the season. These teams could be special and this tournament should only give them confidence.
-- Kennedy Charter is going to have to work on boxing out and playing better defense. The Eagles got key players into foul trouble because they were reaching too much. They're athletic enough they don't need to do that, and next season, they'll have to improve the schedule so they can have a few tough games to get ready for a game like Wednesday's.
-- Really impressed with Mooresville guard Shawn Lester. He has a very mature game. He's a great ball-handler and has a great step-back jump shot move that reminds me a little of Bobcat Kemba Walker.
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, six rebounds and four steals for Forestview, which has won four of its past five games.
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, seven rebounds) and Elvis Kisonas (14 points). Nate Cantadore had 19 for First Assembly. Anson County girls 48, Queens Grant 21: Anson jumped to a 22-2 lead in the consolation gamey and led 29-10 at halftime. Anson outrebounded Queens Grant 41-27, forced 34 turnovers and held Queens Grant to 30 percent shooting. Keyara McKnight (13 points, eight rebounds), Jillian Murray (10 points, four steals) and Jaida Robinson (eight points, 13 rebounds) led the Bearcats, who will play in Thursday's fifth-place game.
Hough girls 56, Covenant Day 18: Hough held Covenant Day scoreless in the first quarter and to 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, seven rebounds, two steals), Anna Diggs (11 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Brandi Arey (10 points, eight rebounds, three steals).
Boys' Semifinals: Northside 83, Kennedy Charter 79 OT; Mooresville 59, Davidson Day 57.
Boys' Consolations: Forestview 55, Queens Grant 40; Ardrey Kell 60, First Assembly 57. Today's Today's Boys' Championship: Northside vs. Mooresville, 8:30 p.m.
Today's Boys' Third-Place Game: Kennedy Charter vs. Davidson Day, 5:10 p.m.
Today's Boys' Fifth-Place Game: Forestview vs. Ardrey Kell, 1:50 p.m.
Today's Boys' Seventh-Place Game: Queens Grant vs. First Assembly, 10:40 a.m.
Girls' Semifinals: Berry 47, Hickory Ridge 43; Ardrey Kell 52, Forestview 45.
Girls' Consolations: Anson County 48, Queens Grant 21; Hough 56, Covenant Day 18.
Today's Girls' Championship: Berry vs. Ardrey Kell, 6:50 p.m.
Today's Girls' Third Place: Hickory Ridge vs. Forestview, 3:30 p.m.
Today's Girls' Fifth Place: Anson County vs. Hough, 12:10 p.m.
Today's Girls' Seventh Place: Queens Grant vs. Covenant Day, 9 a.m
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The News and Observer
RALEIGH -- About 22 years ago, a strong but agile player named Rodney Rogers walked to center court of Broughton’s Holliday Gymnasium and accepted the MVP trophy for the 1989 Holiday Invitational.
On Wednesday night, his oldest daughter – Roddreka Rogers – made the same triumphant walk.
It’s an unprecedented father-daughter combination of MVPs that hasn’t been seen in the prep basketball tournament’s 40-year history.
The senior for Myers Park averaged 17 points and 10.6 rebounds in three games in the Mix-101.5 girls bracket at the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational, leading her unbeaten Mustangs to a 50-45 victory in the championship game against Raleigh Millbrook. It was the first loss for Millbrook (12-1), last year’s 4A runners-up, in a game that could serve as a preview of the 4A state championship game.
“There is not a dry eye in the locker room,” said Millbrook coach Chris East. “They know that I love them, and I’m proud of them. They know too that we can’t start off like we did in the first minutes of the game and not execute.”
Millbrook played the three-game tournament without two starters – Katelyn Mitchell and Ryan Flowers – who were suspended for a violation of team rules.
Myers Park coach Dustin Terrel said it was important to get out to an early lead, which his team did – up 28-15 at the break – by limiting Millbrook to just one second-quarter point.
“With their scores being so low, we thought that if we got a double-digit lead, they would struggle trying to get back and start forcing stuff, and they kind of did in the first half,” Terrel said. “We tried to give it away to them at the end, but we battled back.”
While Myers Park was able to force some turnovers with a full-court press, Millbrook did the same in the fourth – making for an entertaining finish.
Millbrook swarmed from down 12 with 3:43 left in the game to cut the deficit to two after a 3-pointer from Mykia Jones with 53.6 seconds left. But it was too little, too late for the Wildcats, as defensive gambles in its press led to two straight Myers Park layups.
“We should’ve learned from our state championship game (loss) last year,” said the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Briana Day, a Millbrook junior and UNC recruit. “Our intensity should’ve came well before the fourth quarter.”
Myers Park placed three players on the all-tournament team, adding freshman Rydeiah Rogers – Roddreka’s younger sister – and sophomore Saadia Timpton.
Green Hope, which finished third in the tournament after a 56-41 win against Riverside, placed Kristen Gaffney (79 points in three games) and Ashley Williams on the all-tournament team.
The rest of the all-tournament team included Riverside’s Maddie McCallie, Hillside’s Morgan McGee, Panther Creek’s Kayla Seymour and Cary Christian’s Dakota Dukes.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/12/28/1739402/girls-holiday-invitational-championship.html#storylink=cpy
Ever since the Hardwood Classic pairings came out a few weeks back, Kennedy Charter boys basketball coach Ed Addie said people have been asking him about a potential meeting with Northside Christian in the semifinals.
It'll happen in tonight's 6:50 Hardwood Classic semifinal at Bojangles' Coliseum and it will be the Mecklenburg County game of the year so far.
"That's the game," Addie said after an easy first round win over Queens Grant Tuesday. "Carolina Preps has them No. 1 in the state and us No. 10. There's a little bit of a gap there and I think my boys have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders. We don't want to come out too crazy, but stay calm and consistent. Northside has a great coach and a great team. We look forward to playing them. It's going to be a good game."
Northside (10-0), No. 2 in the Observer's Sweet 16, has beaten two teams ranked in the S.C. top 10 polls as well as a High Point Wesleyan team that has been ranked nationally. As Addie said, Northside is ranked No. 1 in the Carolina Preps poll of N.C. Independent School teams, ahead of such traditional powers as Arden Christ School and Charlotte Christian, and the Knights are looking for their second straight state championship berth in February.
Kennedy Charter (12-0), No. 10 in the state independent poll, is new to this state power thing, but the Eagles are one of the most talented teams in North Carolina with at least seven guys who could play Division I one day.
Both teams have great coaches and great systems. Northside averages 82.9 points, third-best in the Observer's 127-school coverage area, and allows just 47.6 points per game, eighth best.
Kennedy Charter leads the area in scoring at 98.7 points per game and gives up a pretty stingy 52.4 points per game.
Something's got to give tonight.
"We'll see what happens," Northside coach Byron Dinkins said. "Based on our performance (in Tuesday'a spotty first round win over Gastonia Forestview), they're the favorites. But it always comes down to defense for us. If we can some things going offensively to go with it, we'll be OK."
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The first Hardwood Classic tips off today at Bojangles' Coliseum. The tournament, which runs through Thursday, was formerly called the Bojangles' Shootout.
A quick fact guide:
Tickets $12 for adults, $6 for students 18 and under (children 3 and under get in free)
Today's Can't-Miss Games
Queens Grant vs. Kennedy Charter, 10:40 a.m.: Unbeaten Kennedy Charter won the SouthLake Christmas Tournament last week, but the upstart power plays its first true big games this week. The team averages 99 points per game and has at least seven players who could play Division I ball.
No. 2 Northside vs. Forestview, 1:50 p.m.: Forestview has won three games in a row to improve to 7-2 and will try to figure out unbeaten Northside's defense, which gives up fewer than 50 points per game. Northside is No. 2 in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll
No. 6 Mooresville vs. Ardrey Kell, 6:50 p.m.: Mooresville features national top-150 recruit Shawn Lester, who has signed with Charlotte, and is fresh off an upset against No. 3 West Charlotte, the reigning N.C. 4A champion.
Players To Watch Dionte Adams, Northside Christian: 6-foot-7 senior post averages 10.2 points and 11 rebounds. He ranks No. 3 in the Observer's coverage area in rebounding. Signed by Hampton.
Bre Armstrong, Forestview girls: 5-8 junior wing averages 10.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 3.3 assists - all team highs - for the unbeaten Jaguars (9-0).
Essence Baucom, Berry girls: Alabama-Birmingham recruit and 5-6 point guard leads her team in scoring (13.2 points). Berry (8-1) has won eight games in a row.
Donte Clark, Kennedy Charter: 6-4 junior point guard has offers from East Carolina, Central Florida, Nebraska, Georgia and Jacksonville among others, plus heavy interest from Virginia Tech. Averages 15.8 points and 3.2 rebounds.
L.C. Cooks, Northside Christian: 6-1 senior guard signed by Hampton leads unbeaten Knights in scoring (16 per game). Cooks is second on the team in assists (7.3) - just behind Justin Ashford (7.4), who leads the Observer's coverage area.
Rashun Davis, Davidson Day: 5-11 senior guard signed with Radford. Teammates Richard Brown (Army) and Dorian Albritton (Virginia Military) also signed with Division I teams. Davis excels in the open floor and on defense.
B.J. Gladden, Kennedy Charter: 6-5 sophomore guard/forward has 11 Division I offers, including Xavier, Wake Forest, Charlotte and Virginia Commonwealth.
Shawn Lester, Mooresville: 6-3 senior guard leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 130 senior in America.
Christelle Shembo, Ardrey Kell girls: Wake Forest signee leads her team at 15.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Teammate Oceania Anderson is the second player in school history to score 1,000 points.
Andrew Wheet, First Assembly: Concord area sophomore shooter averages 24.2 points and scored 19 in a row against Victory Christian this month.
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.
Forestview girls vs. Hough, 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.
REIGNING CHAMP NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN HOPES TO USE DEFENSE TO ADVANCE
For several weeks, Byron Dinkins, the boys basketball coach at Northside Christian, said he’s heard a lot about a potential Hardwood Classic semifinal game with Kennedy Charter.
Both teams are new to being local powerhouses, but both teams are unbeaten and could lay legitimate claims to being the best boys basketball team in Mecklenburg County.
Before getting to a possible Northside-Kennedy Charter semifinal Wednesday night, Dinkins warns his team must win what he feels is the toughest first-round game at today’s Hardwood Classic at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Northside (9-0), No. 2 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, will face Gaston County power Forestview (7-2) today at 1:50 p.m. Forestview, which reached the 2009 N.C. 3A championship final, has won its last three games.
“We have one of the toughest first-round matchups (today) if not the toughest,” said Dinkins, a former Charlotte 49ers and East Meck star. “That’s all we can worry about. In order to get to the game everybody wants to see, we have to see if we can get past Forestview.”
Northside-Forestview is one of the more intriguing first-round games at the retooled holiday event that used to be known as the Bojangles’ Shootout. Organizers have strengthened the field, presenting the best one since 2009, and Dinkins’ team is back to defend the championship it won last year.
Northside went on from winning the 2010 Bojangles’ title to qualifying for the N.C. 2A Independent Schools state championship game.
This year, despite working in five new players and two new starters – shooting guard L.C. Cooks (who transferred from Central Cabarrus) and power forward Justin Gordon (from Mallard Creek) – Dinkins said people are looking at his team differently from a year ago.
“We’ve gone from hunter to hunted,” he said. “That could make a difference this year if (we) don’t come with the same work ethic that we had last year. But so far, we’ve maintained that work ethic.”
Northside is winning by about 35 points per game and has beaten High Point Wesleyan – a private-school state-championship favorite that’s been ranked in some national polls this season – along with S.C. powers Richland Northeast and Columbia.
No team has scored more than 59 points against the Knights, and seven opponents were kept in the 40s.
“The schedule was a little tough early … but that was on purpose, to test us,” Dinkins said. “The Hardwood Classic will be tough, too, but for us it begins with defense. If we can maintain our defensive intensity and pressure, then I like our chances.”
Monday, December 26, 2011
Spring Valley forward Devante Brooks goes for a shot over West Charlotte High guard Trey Foster during the Chick-fil-A Classic Thursday at Richland Northeast High School. West Charlotte won 60-57 in overtime. - Tracy Glantz /firstname.lastname@example.org
By AKILAH IMANI NELSON - email@example.com
After playing 90 minutes over three days in the Chick-fil-A Classic last week, West Charlotte’s Mike Brown had just enough left to lift the Lions past Spring Valley in the Classic II championship game.
Brown scored the last six points of the game to give West Charlotte a 60-57 victory in overtime Thursday night at Richland Northeast.
“This means everything. This makes your team,” Lions coach Baronton Terry said. “In my experience, you get back after the New Year, you’re a different team.”
Senior guard Devante Brooks led the Vikings in overtime, hitting two free throws to put them ahead at the start of period, then adding a layup, a steal and a bounce-pass assist to PJ Dozier to keep the Vikings out front.
But with less than two minutes to play, West Charlotte took a one-point lead, and never surrendered it.
“I’m proud of them. It’s always tough to lose but, I’m proud of them. I learned a lot about them. They didn’t give up,” Spring Valley coach Perry Dozier said.
The Vikings trailed by five at halftime, but erased the deficit in the first minute of the second period. Three minutes in, Austin Beamus’ 3-of-4 free throw shooting on consecutive trips to the line nudged Spring Valley ahead for the first time, 26-25.
With senior forward Jonathan Golden working against West Charlotte’s Kennedy Meeks inside for seven points and three rebounds, the Vikings built a five-point lead. But the Lions would not stay down.
A Trey Foster three-pointer made it a one-possession game with less than three minutes in regulation, and West Charlotte moved ahead with two minutes to go.The Vikings pulled even with a three by Brooks at the 1:31 mark, and denied the Lions’ last shot attempt at the buzzer.
“This was one game where I felt good about going into overtime because we got here by winning in double overtime,” Dozier said.
Brooks posted 17 points to lead the Vikings and was named to the all-tournament team.
“This tournament was really dedicated to him,” Dozier said. “He’s been with us for four years and this is the first year we’ve been invited to the tournament and he gave it everything.”
Brown led all scorers with 20 points, and he and Lions point guard Mark Blackmon were named to the all-tournament team.
A big thumbs up to editor Chris Hughes and the guys at Carolina Preps: they have published the most comprehensive database for N.C. high school football I've ever seen.
This belongs on the home page for the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
The staff at Carolina Preps has painstakingly, and I mean PAINSTAKINGLY, put together a list of most every N.C. school's football history, from the school's first year to now. It's an exhaustive list and having tried to do this kind of thing in the past, let me just quickly remove my hands from my keyboard, stand up and give Chris and his staff a big standing ovation.
Now that I've sat back down, let me also let them know I'll be stealing from this database quite liberally in the future.
Check it out for yourself. It's amazing.
Friday, December 23, 2011
FINALISTS NAMED FOR 2012 U.S. ARMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Six elite players make final nominee list
San Antonio, Texas (November 30, 2011) – The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee has narrowed down its list of nominees to six finalists for the prestigious 2012 U.S. Army Player of the Year Award, including: wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, Md.); wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Hillcrest High School, Springfield, Mo.); defensive back Tracy Howard (Miramar High School, Miramar, Fla.); offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (Mallard Creek High School, Charlotte, N.C.); defensive back Shaq Thompson (Grant High School, Sacramento, Calif.); and defensive back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne High School, Daphne, Ala.). The U.S. Army Player of the Year Award is given to the Nation’s most outstanding senior in high school football participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The U.S. Army Player of the Year will be crowned during the U.S. Army Awards Dinner on Friday, January 6, 2012, in San Antonio. The winner will be presented with the Ken Hall Trophy, modeled after Ken “Sugar Land Express” Hall, high school football’s all-time leading rusher.
“These players possess leadership, dedication and strengths similar to Army Strong Soldiers, being named a finalist for this award only underscores their talents,” said John Myers, Director of Strategic Communications, Marketing and Outreach, U.S. Army Accessions Command. “These players are outstanding athletes. We congratulate them on their nomination and are proud to have them wear the Army colors.”
As both a running back and a wide receiver in high school, Stefon Diggs can make big plays from several positions. He has good size and strength, which allows him to take advantage of smaller defenders and shield defenders from the ball. He can stretch the field with his quickness, and his cutting and vision skills make him tough to bring down. He has good hands and is able to adjust to inaccurate passes. Diggs finished the 2011 season with 1,443 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 32 tackles and four interceptions on defense. He is undecided on his college choice.
Dorial Green-Beckham is an accomplished wide receiver who has great size and athleticism. He set the national career receiving yards record with 6,447 and finished the season with 119 catches for 2,234 yards and 24 touchdowns. Both Rivals.com and MaxPreps list him as the top overall recruit. He is strong and can use his size to fight off defenders and to shield the defender from the ball. He has excellent speed and is a deep threat. He has big hands that allow him to catch the ball away from his body or snag the ball out of the air or over his head. Green-Beckham is a red zone threat as a big target who can win jump balls. He has not made a college decision.
Tracy Howard has a complete array of skills for a shutdown defensive back. He enters this weekend’s playoff game with six interceptions on the season, one returned for a touchdown. Howard has the size and speed needed to battle receivers at the line and to stay with them while running downfield. He plays with a physical style and likes to jam receivers at the line. Howard shows great recovery speed and footwork, which allows him to turn and run with wide outs. He reads offenses well and gets good jumps to close down space. Howard shows he can tackle on the edges and he can make plays in the open field. Howard has not decided on which college to attend.
Possessing outstanding athletic ability, D.J. Humphries is one of the top offensive linemen in this class, ranking third among all recruits on the Rivals.com Top 250 and leading his team to a 47-points-per-game average. He has excellent feet and balance and moves extremely well for an offensive lineman. This ability allows him to block in space and find defenders at the second level, but also guard the edge against speed-rushers. He knows how to use his long arms and hands well in pass protection and engage oncoming defenders. Humphries knows how to finish his blocks. Once he adds more bulk to his lean frame, his ceiling is extremely high. Humphries has committed to the University of Florida.
Thompson is a tall, physical defensive back who possesses great athleticism and football instincts. He is the top-ranked player in California according Rivals.com and MaxPreps. He has the ability to make plays all over the field, utilizing his excellent speed and closing angles. He is a solid tackler who can deliver the big hit, but also can use his balance and footwork to cover in man-to-man. Thompson is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by his almost 3,000 combined yards from the running back position over his final two seasons. He remains undecided on his college choice.
T.J. Yeldon is an instinctive runner with excellent speed and acceleration. He has a great initial burst, which allows him to hit small windows and attack the defense. He had a huge senior season, compiling 2,193 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns. Yeldon’s balance and vision allow him to set up tacklers and break tackles. He has big-play potential, particularly using his receiving skills to create mismatches. As he adds weight to his frame, his ability to run between the tackles should improve and he will be able to add more of a power aspect to his game. Yeldon has committed to Auburn University.
The selection process began this fall as players were evaluated by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee and by coaches from across the country. Past U.S. Army Player of the Year Award winners include: 2001 - Kevin Jones; 2002 - Lorenzo Booker; 2003 - Chris Leak; 2004 - Adrian Peterson; 2005 - Ryan Perrilloux; 2006 - Mitch Mustain; 2007 - Jimmy Clausen; 2008 - Terrelle Pryor; 2009 - Bryce Brown; 2010 - Dillon Baxter; and 2011 – Demetrius Hart.
For more than a decade, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been the Nation’s premier high school football game, serving as the preeminent launching pad for America’s future college and NFL stars. Adrian Peterson, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Lattimore, and Andrew Luck all made their national debuts as U.S. Army All-Americans. The 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl drew a crowd of nearly 38,000 to the Alamodome, and was the most-watched sporting event on television over the weekend, excluding the NFL playoffs.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
By AARON BEARD AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Todd Gurley II figured he was simply going out on the field to have fun, which would make it easy to perform at a level that would help Tarboro win a third straight state championship. That philosophy also helped him make him this year's Associated Press prep football player of the year for North Carolina.
“I really just go out there and have a lot of fun while I'm playing,” Gurley said. “That's what I feel like: if I have fun doing it, I'll do my best playing in whatever game I'm playing in.”
Gurley ran for nearly 2,600 yards and 36 touchdowns in Tarboro's latest title push. He was the runaway choice for the award, earning 11 of 16 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Thursday. Greensboro Page quarterback James Summers – a North Carolina State recruit – was second with two votes after leading his school to an unbeaten season and the Class 4-AA championship.
Gurley was a Shrine Bowl pick who entered the season ranked No. 1 on The Fayetteville Observer's list of the top 50 college prospects in the state. He's also regarded as an elite sprinter in track who represented the U.S. in international competition last summer.
“What makes him special is he expects to be great,” Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. “That's the No. 1 thing. When he steps on that field, in his mind, he expects to be the best player at that time. It doesn't matter if it's the first game of the season, a conference game, the first playoff game, the state championship game, the Shrine Bowl. He has that confidence that when he steps on that field, he believes he's the best.”
Gurley certainly proved that in his final game. He ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns as Tarboro beat Lincolnton 39-36 in the 2-A final, including 197 yards in the second half. He scored the go-ahead 12-yard touchdown with 3:12 left to earn the game's most valuable player award.
Gurley is considering North Carolina, North Carolina State, Clemson or Georgia.
“He's prepared himself,” Craddock said. “A lot of people think, `Well, Todd Gurley is a great athlete.’ I've coached a lot of great athletes. This kid worked his tail off in the weight room and with speed training and doing things the right way. He put himself in position to be this successful.”
Havelock's Bryant named AP coach of year for NC
By AARON BEARD AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Jim Bob Bryant made sure his Havelock team had plenty of motivation after falling a game short of the state final the past two years. He even hung a big picture in the weight room showing an opponent celebrating after ending Havelock's season the previous year.
His players responded with an unbeaten season that helped make Bryant this year's Associated Press prep football coach of the year for North Carolina.
“We always found something to give a little extra motivation to our kids,” Bryant said. “My assistant coaches worked tirelessly and everything we do is a competition. We compete in practice and we compete in the weight room. My coaches do a great job of making everything a competition so the kids keep that edge and are always fighting to be No. 1 in everything we do.”
Bryant led the school to a 16-0 record and the Class 3-A championship in his fourth season. He earned five of 16 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Wednesday.
Tarboro's Jeff Craddock was second with four votes after leading his school to a third straight state title, while Swain County's Sam Pattillo was third with three votes after leading his team to the 1-AA crown.
Havelock had lost to Eastern Alamance in the state semifinals the past two seasons. Bryant and the coaches had a photo blown up of Eastern Alamance's postgame celebration on Havelock's field last season with the words “Never again” written across the bottom. It had literally hung over Havelock's players in the weight room ever since.
“We kind of used that as our rallying cry: never again would we lose in the eastern finals at Havelock,” Bryant said.
The Rams didn't leave much to chance. With an offense that averaged about 50 points and 470 yards per game on the year, Havelock romped through the state playoffs – the Rams had three straight 60-point performance – to reach the final. Then, facing three-time defending champion West Rowan, Havelock rolled to a 38-6 win for the school's second state title.
Bryant's award comes a day after Havelock became one of two schools to have two players make the 2011 AP all-state team for North Carolina.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
The first Hardwood Classic Christmas Tournament 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 Dec. 27-29.
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, 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.; 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 9, 2011
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released a new proposal for realigning schools into conferences Friday. The first was done by a computer. This one was done by staff. Below are proposed Charlotte conferences.
Berry, Phillip O. Academy of Technology
Here is the link to the complete proposal
Here is the link to the Observer's proposal
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Last week, the N.C. High School Athletic Association released a draft of how its 300-plus high schools will be placed into new conferences beginning in the fall of 2013. The draft was done by a computer using geography and school size as primary criteria.
It caused a lot of controversy locally and statewide.
You can click here to see the draft
On Friday (Dec. 9), the NCHSAA will release a second draft, this one done by human beings. It figures to have some differences. The first draft didn't include split conferences, which caused some travel issues. It's likely this one will.
Below are the original Mecklenburg County groupings from the first draft:
Mecklenburg County Conference 1 (the old Southwestern 4A): Ardrey Kell, Butler, Charlotte Catholic, Myers Park, Olympic, Porter Ridge, Providence, South Mecklenburg.
Mecklenburg County Conference 2 (the old I-MECK 4A): A.L. Brown, Hopewell, Hough, Mallard Creek, Mooresville, North Meck, Robinson, Vance
Mecklenburg County Conference 3 (the old MEGA 7): Berry, East Meck, Garinger, Harding, Independence, Rocky River, West Charlotte, West Mecklenburg
Monday, December 5, 2011
Last year, Olympic ascended to the top of the Observer’s Sweet 16 boys basketball poll for the first time ever.
It didn’t take the Trojans long to get back.
After Harding’s big upset of preseason No. 1 West Charlotte Friday, the Trojans jump up a spot to No. 1. Olympic is 4-0 and plays Hunter Huss at home Tuesday night in a non-conference game. Huss (1-0) is reigning N.C. 3A state champions.
Olympic lost in the N.C. 4A quarterfinals last season.
The Trojans’ Allerik Freeman, a junior, leads the team at 17.2 points per game. He’s ranked No. 9 nationally in his class by ESPN. Freeman and the Trojans are winning by an average of 14 points against a pretty touch schedule.
-- Two new teams joined the boys poll: No. 10 North Meck, off to a 4-0 start, and Harding, which sprung the West Charlotte upset and has only lost to nationally ranked Milton, Ga.
-- In the girls poll, unbeaten Freedom jumped in at No. 11 and Myers Park and Ardrey Kell -- two Southwestern 4A foes -- moved up to the No. 3 and 4 spots. Those teams meet Dec. 16 at Ardrey Kell and Jan. 27 at Myers Park.
Note: Davidson Day, which was ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll, will not be eligible for inclusion for the remainder of the season. While the school has adopted the “eight semester” rule, which would not allow students who have repeated a year after starting ninth grade to maintain eligibility, the school still has some players on its teams who have repeated a grade and are playing.
Davidson Day officials say that these players will graduate next spring and after that time, the school will be Sweet 16 eligible.
Rk. Team (Class) Rec. Pvs.
1 Olympic (4A) 4-0 2
2 Northside Christian (IND) 5-0 3
3 West Charlotte (4A) 1-1 1
4 Concord (3A) 2-0 6
5 Lancaster, SC (4A) 2-0 10
6 Mooresville (4A) 0-1 4
7 Freedom (3A) 4-0 8
8 Berry (3A) 4-0 9
9 Charlotte Christian IND) 4-1 5
10 North Mecklenburg (4A) 4-0 NR
11 Harding (3A) 4-1 NR
12 Sun Valley (3A) 4-1 12
13 Cuthbertson (2A) 3-0 NR
14 Salisbury (3A) 0-0 14
15 Weddington (3A) 3-1 11
16 East Rutherford (2A) 2-1 13
Dropped Out: Davidson Day (IND, 4-0), Statesville (3A, 1-2). On the bubble: Ashbrook (3A, 3-0); East Burke (3A, 3-1), Hickory Ridge (3A, 4-0)
Note: To be ranked in the Observer’s Sweet 16, a team must be in the Observer’s coverage area, field football and basketball teams and not allow a student-athlete to re-class after ninth grade. For a detailed look inside the poll, including the criteria used to compile it, visit?
this link: http://bit.ly/prNoYM.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SWEET 16
Rk. Team (Class) Rec. Pvs.
1 Providence Day (IND) 3-0 1
2 Charlotte Christian (IND) 4-0 2
3 Myers Park (4A) 5-0 4
4 Ardrey Kell (4A) 4-0 7
5 Hickory (3A) 2-0 6
6 Hopewell (4A) 3-2 3
7 Salisbury (2A) 1-1 5
8 Newton-Conover (2A) 2-0 8
9 Concord (3A) 1-0 10
10 Forestview (3A) 3-0 11
11 Freedom (3A) 4-0 NR
12 Bandys (2A) 4-0 13
13 Mallard Creek (4A) 2-1 9
14 North Iredell (3A) 2-1 12
15 Berry (3A) 2-1 15
16 South Point (3A) 0-0 16
Dropped Out: Parkwood (3A, 0-1). On the bubble: Marvin Ridge (3A, 3-0); Hough (4A, 3-1); Porter Ridge (4A, 2-0); Carson (3A, 4-0)
Friday, December 2, 2011
When Harding lost 74-58 to nationally ranked Milton (GA) at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge last month, Rams coach Walter Aikens was proud of his team. He loved how tough his kids played and knew if they could repeat that kind of performance against N.C. competition, even elite N.C. competition like West Charlotte, the Rams would be a tough out.
Sure enough, on the same night West Charlotte celebrated winning the 2010 N.C. 4A state championship, that toughness showed in a 66-65 upset that is one of the biggest in Mecklenburg County in years.
West Charlotte is nationally ranked in many polls and sits at No. 1 in the Sweet 16. Harding (4-1) ended the Lions’ 15-game win streak. West Charlotte is 1-1.
Jarvis Haywood hit two free throws with 1.1 seconds to win the game. He finished with 29 points. Harding led by 10 in the first half and fell behind by 10 in the second half. Aikens said it was Harding’s first win over West Charlotte since 2009.
“We fought back and (then) got two technical fouls with one minute left,” Aikens said. “So, with one minute left, we're down by four and we fought through it. We hit some big free throws down the line. This was a hump game. I felt if we could win this one, it would boost our confidence the rest of the way. To beat the No. 1 team in the Sweet 16 has (us) fired up and now they know they can do it.”
Olympic High's boys basketball team, ranked No. 2 in the Observer's Sweet 16, will play the remainder of the season without of one its best players.
B.J. Gladden, a 6-foot-5 junior wing, has been declared ineligible. Sources told the Observer the issue was with his residency. Sources say Gladden was not living in Olympic's district.
Sue Doran, director of athletics for Mecklenburg County schools, said Olympic will not be held accountable for the eligibility issue. While not naming Gladden, due to privacy issues, she said the school was not at fault.
Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner, who did not return calls, did not include Gladden's name on the roster he released today with his game notes. Olympic (3-0) has a big non-conference game with Myers Park (3-1) tonight.
Gladden scored nine points in Olympic's 88-79 win over Butler Tuesday.
Gladden, a 6-foot-5 forward, is ranked among the state's top 10 players in the junior class by several statewide scouting services. He played at Queens Grant Charter School last year, which has no attendance boundaries.
According to national recruiting website scout.com, Gladden has 11 Division I college recruiting offers. It's unclear where he might now try to enroll.
Gladden was Olympic's fourth leading scorer (8.7 points per game) and second leading rebounder (5.0). He led the team in steals (1.7 per game).
Thursday, December 1, 2011
CHICAGO (December 1, 2011) — In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes,, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Keith Marshall of Millbrook High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year. Marshall is the first Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Millbrook High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Marshall as North Carolina’s best high school football player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Marshall joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior running back rushed for 1,891 yards and 25 touchdowns on 258 carries this season, leading the Wildcats (6-6) to a berth in the Class 4A postseason. The Preseason Player of the Year as named by NCPreps.com, Marshall ran for 1,550 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 2010. A 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection, he recorded 1,166 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore.
Also a track standout, Marshall has maintained a 4.29 weighted GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor, he has volunteered at a local homeless shelter and on behalf of Habitat for Humanity.
“Keith Marshall has tremendous speed,” said Tony Lewis, head coach of rival Sanderson High. “Once he is to the second level, he will outrun most tackling angles. I think he has good vision and finds the crease very well. He has the ability to make a play happen on his own due to raw speed. He is talented and I have always felt like he handled himself on the football field in a very positive way.”
Marshall remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPNHS and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Marshall joins recent Gatorade North Carolina Football Players of the Year Stephone Anthony (2010-11, Anson High School) Christian LeMay (2009-10, Butler), Xavier Nixon (2008-09, Jack Britt High School) and Braden Hanson (2007-08, Charlotte Latin School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
--Gatorade media release