Eagles, Raiders set to start postseason
A day after colliding in regular season finales, three of the four area Northern Carolina Conference teams learned their positions in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A state playoffs.
The playoff fields were announced on Saturday and include the Southern Vance and Warren County girls as well as the Warren County boys.
Southern (20-2) is seeded fifth in the 2-A East girls bracket and scheduled to host No. 28 Newport Croatan (11-9) of the East Central Conference on Monday at 6 p.m.
The other two area matchups are Monday at 7 p.m. The Warren County boys drew the 11-seed in the East and host No. 22 Carrboro (14-8) of the Mid-State Conference while the 29th-seeded Lady Eagles (11-12) visit No. 4 East Bladen (21-1).
Records listed in the NCHSAA bracket are based on 22-game marks for seeding purposes.
After an unbeaten conference season, the Lady Raiders knew they wouldn’t be headed on the road anytime soon. Southern’s only two losses this season came to unbeaten Northern Nash of 3-A.
“Do or die, play hard or go home,” said Southern head coach Amy Simpson. “That’s the main focus now when you step foot out there on the court. It’s a higher level of basketball that you’re getting ready to face. We just have to go out there and get ready to compete on the court.”
The Warren County boys entered last week with hopes of a conference championship. The Eagles (18-6) wrapped up a second-place finish Thursday before closing the season with a win at Southern Vance Friday.
Warren County hosts a Carrboro team that finished third in its league behind Burlington Cummings and Graham.
The Southern boys were on the wrong side of the bubble. The loss Friday to Warren County likely did not matter. Southern (9-13) finished tied with Roanoke Rapids (12-11) in the standings and split with the Yellow Jackets in the regular season. The Raiders won both league games against N.C. School of Science and Math (11-13) and finished two games ahead of the Unicorns in the standings. But Roanoke Rapids and NCSSM were two of the last three teams in, seeded 30th and 31st, respectively.
Only the top three teams in the conference standings earn automatic bids. The rest of the field is determined by winning percentage.
The season still showed marked improvement for Southern, which posted five more wins than a year ago.
“It was hard building confidence when you come off a four-win season, a coaching change,” said first-year head coach Greg Ackles. “I believe they’re at least receptive to me. They just saw the effort I gave them every day so I think they expect to give the same effort.”
The Warren County girls were also on the bubble after a fifth-place conference finish.
“We want to win,” Warren County head coach Shannon Jones said following a loss Friday to Southern. “I felt like we were on a good path. Today was kind of rough. Hopefully we can get it together.”
Area Big Eight teams miss out on playoffs
None of the area 3-A Big Eight teams qualified for the state playoffs, including the J.F. Webb boys, the reigning 3-A champions.
Webb’s season came to a halt Wednesday in the league tournament at Southern Durham. The third-seeded Spartans went on to upset No. 1 Orange in the final.
Senior Tyrek Beverly reached 1,000 career points for the Warriors in the Southern Durham game. Beverly became the fourth Webb player to reach 1,000 in head coach Leo Brunelli’s tenure, joining Isaiah Hicks, Antwan Thorpe and Stefan Cates. Cates, also a senior, hit the mark earlier this season.
The Webb girls got a win in the Big Eight tourney Wednesday before elimination Thursday to Cardinal Gibbons.
The Northern Vance boys and girls teams’ seasons ended Wednesday in the conference tournament.
The Northern boys lost 73-65 at top-seeded Orange, getting 25 points from Scott Hamrick and 24 from Tavin Moore.
Northern head coach Wilton Baskett said it was a game of runs, unfolding like many of the team’s games did this season.
The Vikings finished last in the league standings and struggled to find consistency despite some great moments.
Baskett likes the group he has returning, led by a strong group of underclassmen.
“The future looks very bright,” said the Northern coach.
Head coach Randolph Crews likes what he has coming back on the girls side too. The Lady Vikings lost at Cardinal Gibbons Wednesday in the league tournament. Jackie Miller led Northern with eight points and Kenya Parry had seven.
“I like my team coming back,” said Crews. “I think we’ll be very competitive.
Crossroads caps solid season
Crossroads Christian ended the season with consecutive losses in its postseason boys tournament, but had one of the more successful campaigns in program history with 13 wins, following a six-victory campaign in 2012-2013.
The Colts were defeated by Trinity Academy of Raleigh and Faith Christian in the tourney at Crossroads.
Crossroads will lose four seniors for next season including the team’s primary scorer Holden Hedgepeth and productive post player Reid Sudheimer.
Lady Colts split in tourney
The Crossroads Christian girls faced an uphill battle throughout their 2013-2014 campaign seeking to compensate for the loss of star player Jessi Hayes, the go-to player from the previous four seasons.
Crossroads wrapped up a six-win season on Tuesday, falling 46-40 to Faith Christian in the championship game of a postseason tournament hosted by the Colts. Earlier in the day, Crossroads defeated Trinity Academy of Raleigh 35-32.
“Obviously it’s hard when you lose Jessi, trying to replace her,” said Colts head coach Dana LaBerge. “It’s one of those things you don’t really realize what she did until she’s not here.”
Crossroads got a big season from its lone senior Caroline May, who had 14 points in the win over Trinity. May averaged 11 points and 7 or 8 rebounds for the season, according to LaBerge.
Junior Michaela Nicholas had 10 points against Trinity and 19 in the loss to Faith. She passed Hayes for second on the Colts’ list for made 3s in a season.
Near the end of the season, Crossroads was starting two sophomores and a freshman.
“They got some good experience,” said LaBerge, “and will hopefully build from that next year too.”
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