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94th ANNUAL MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS• 37th ANNUAL WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
tidbits of information and other minutiae from the 2008 NCHSAA Basketball Championships
• BIG MAN PERFORMS: Big 6-9, 280-pound Reginald Johnson of Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy was a force to be reckoned with in the NCHSAA state 1-A men’s basketball final, as the Phoenix defeated Pamlico 73-42. Johnson, who is bound for the University of Miami, had 25 points and pulled down 23 rebounds to earn the Wendy’s Most Valuable Player honor in the game. His 23 rebounds is the most collected by a men’s player in a state championship since the games moved to the collegiate sites in 1986. And although records are not complete, it is the largest documented rebound total by a men’s player in a state championship going back to 1948. The listed state tournament record (remember that for a while eight teams went to one site, so the NCHSAA considers those records as state tournament record as well as the current regional/state format) is 30 rebounds by Harry Burrus of Mattamuskeet against Acme-Delco in the 1984 Eastern Regional 1-A semifinal.
• EAST vs. WEST: For the eighth time in nine years, the Western representatives held the edge over the Eastern champions in the NCHSAA state basketball championships. The West took five of the eight championship games, including three of the four played at the Smith Center.
The 2007 count had the West winning five of eight, but in 2006, the East representatives took six of the eight titles, with only Bishop McGuinness in the 1-A women and South Mecklenburg in the 4-A women’s games winning for the West.
Western teams took five of eight championships during the 2005 Super Saturday activities, six of eight titles in 2004 and seven of eight championships during the 2003 finals. Only Fayetteville Seventy-First, with its 4-A women’s triumph over Charlotte Zeb Vance by a 50-47 count, able to give the East a victory in 2003.
The 2002 championships represent the only time that one side of the state has swept the other in the 28-year history using the regional format, as the Western champions captured all eight of those NCHSAA title games, four men’s games and four women’s games. In 2001, the West went 6-2, with only East Bladen in the 2-A men’s title game and Winston-Salem Carver in the 3-A women’s championship breaking through for the East. In 2000, seven of the eight championships went to Western representatives, with only Whiteville’s narrow victory over Pittsboro Northwood in the 2-A men’s final preventing a complete sweep by the West over the East.
• TURNAROUND: Fayetteville Westover’s climb to the NCHSAA state 4-A women’s championship hasn’t been easy. The Wolverines knocked off West Charlotte 58-53 at Reynolds Coliseum behind 20 points and 10 rebounds by Tequila Jones, who was named the Wendy’s Most Valuable Player. Head coach Gene Arrington, in his 10th year as head coach at the Fayetteville school, has engineered a turnaround—Westover suffered an 87-game losing streak in women’s basketball that was finally shattered under his tenure.
One other interesting note on Coach Arrington—he was a member of a state championship football team in high school. Arrington played for T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va., for legendary coach Herman Boone, so he was a member of the team that was immortalized in the film “Remember The Titans” starring Denzel Washington as Coach Boone.
• DOMINATION CONTINUES: the victory by Kernersville Bishop McGuinness over Pender by 56-43 in the state 1-A women’s final at the Smith Center continued a solid trend for the Western champ in that classification. The West has now won 21 of the last 23 titles in the 1-A classification for women. The only Eastern teams to break through during this time were Union in 1998 and Lakewood in 1994.
Erinn Thompson of Bishop McGuinness was the Wendy’s MVP for the second year in a row, this time scoring 14 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. That is the fourth best rebounding performance since 1986 in a women’s final, but behind the record 28 rebounds LaToya Pringle pulled down for Fayetteville Seventy-First in the 2003 4-A final.
• PERFECTION: Jean Best of Wilson Beddingfield had a perfect night from the floor in the 3-A women’s final, hitting all 10 of her field-goal attempts en route to 21 points. But Beddingfield fell to a high-powered Concord team by 77-62 in the championship at the Smith Center. Nyshia Hammonds of Concord, with 20 points and five steals, was voted the Wendy’s MVP, but the balanced Concord attack made it tough for the media members to decide on the selection. Four different Concord players got votes for that post-game honor.
• TOUGH STARTS: a couple of men’s teams endured difficult starts in their championship games. Canton Pisgah was a dismal one for 23 from the field in the first half (just 4.3 percent) and although the Black Bears battled back gamely Pisgah fell to West Bladen 65-50 in the 2-A final. West led 16-3 at the end of the first quarter. Pisgah’s first field goal came with 2:56 to go in the first half, so the Bears went 13:04 without a bucket from the floor.
Trinity also had a tough start in its 3-A battle with Kinston, falling behind the Vikings 13-0 in the opening period before Josh Pittman hit a three-pointer for Trinity with 1:40 to go in the opening stanza, a drought of 6:20. Trinity actually came back to take the lead in the third quarter before Kinston prevailed 60-58 in the most dramatic game of the day at the Smith Center.
• PITTMAN TIES MARK: Josh Pittman hit seven three-pointers in 16 tries in the Trinity loss to Kinston, which ties the state mark for the most three-pointers in a men’s championship game. Pittman finished with a game-high 23 points. Shawn Alexander of T.C. Roberson hit seven of 12 from beyond the arc in the 1998 3-A final en route to 41 points in a losing effort.
• TIME WARNER TELEVISION: all eight of the state championship basketball games are available to Time Warner Cable subscribers across the state on Carolina Video on Demand, on channel 1234.
• SUCCESS CONTINUES: both Mecklenburg County and Cumberland County have been enjoying success in the NCHSAA 4-A basketball ranks. A Charlotte area team qualified for the men’s state 4-A final for the fourth straight year and East Mecklenburg took the title with a 72-63 triumph over a game Apex team. North Mecklenburg won it all in 2005, was runner-up in 2006, and then Charlotte Vance was the second-place finisher in 2007.
Titus Robinson, with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the winners, also hit 10 of 12 from the foul line and was the Wendy’s MVP while Malik Stith also scored 20 for East Meck. East shot 56.5 percent from the floor in the second half.
For the fourth time in the last six seasons, a Cumberland County team won the 4-A women’s title. Prior to Westover’s win this year, Seventy-First took back to back crowns in 2003 and ’04 and then Hope Mills South View enjoyed an unbeaten season in 2007 en route to the state title.
• HOT WHEN IT COUNTS: East Davidson had a outstanding shooting percentage in the second half of its 2-A final against Graham at Reynolds Coliseum, as East hit 11 of 19 from the floor in the final 16 minutes for a 57.9 percent in the second half. That lifted the Golden Eagles to a 62-59 victory over Graham, the second consecutive season that Graham has finished as the runner-up.
Wendy’s MVP Anna Freeman scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had four blocked shots and two assists in just 22 minutes of action to pace East Davidson.
• KINSTON ENDS “DROUGHT”: although Kinston has been in the NCHSAA men’s basketball finals 16 times and has won six titles, it was the first victory for the school since 1965. Kinston had lost in the 2001 3-A final to High Point Andrews by 63-60 and had dropped an 85-79 decision to Concord in the 2007 final at Reynolds Coliseum. One of the very first things that Kinston head coach Wells Gulledge addressed in his opening statement to the media at the post-championship was how proud the team was to bring a state basketball title back to Kinston for the first time in 43 years. He also mentioned a number of the great players in that program’s proud tradition, such as Jerry Stackhouse and others, who had not been fortunate enough to win a state championship.
• OTHER RANDOM NOTES: Wendy’s and the Carolinas Ford Dealers are the presenting sponsors for the NCHSAA sports program…the two sites for the championships (Smith and Reynolds) was the sixth time two sites have been used since 1998, when the women’s games were played at Carmichael Auditorium and the men’s games were held at the Smith Center …Northern Durham and Garner High Schools served as the official hosts for the championships… the Bouncing Bulldogs, the famous rope-skipping demonstration team from Durham, provided the halftime entertainment at the men’s 3-A final on Saturday night and got their customary standing ovation from the large crowd in attendance. The Bouncing Bulldogs, under the direction of Ray Fredrick, have become one of the highlights for fans attending the championship games.