20th Nov2012

Dixon boys show promise, could surprise some people

by Lee Wagner

HOLLY RIDGE – They played the annual Maroon and Gold game at Dixon High School this past Friday night – a night for the fans to get excited about the upcoming basketball season, and a night to put the newest Bulldogs’ basketball team on display.

But over the past seven seasons the early excitement faded as the Bulldogs struggle, not only to get wins, but to compete as they compiled a six-season cumulative record of 29-120 – including a 0-24 record in the 2010-11campaign.

Last year Philip Durr took over the program and while the Bulldogs only won three games you could see some changes coming. The 2011-12 team was young but the talent level was evident – so much so that the promise of a successful season this year might actually come to fruition.

Durr lost four pretty good, and hard-working, athletes with the graduation of Vonte Simpkins, Dakota Moore, Daniel Brown, and Chase Page but he welcomes back eight players with varsity experience, and if the intensity level they showed on Friday is any indication, they have a chance to make some noise.

“We have height and we can shoot the ball,” Durr said. “The one hang up is we’re not as fast as I’d like us to be right now. If we work on that I think we can be conference contenders.”

Good teams start with a good point guard and a good man in the middle, and Friday night’s scrimmage indicated both might be in place. Sophomore center Trent Marshburn ran the floor well, hit the boards to the tune of 10 rebounds on Friday, and dropped in 12 points as the team split into two units for the scrimmage.

Junior Jalen Mitchell ran the point and showed some of the speed that Durr is looking for. Mitchell had several steals and heated up in the third portion of the scrimmage with two three-pointers and a quartet of deuces to finish with 23 points.

Junior forward Daniel pulled down 16 rebounds while chipping in with 10 points, and senior forward Zack Sicknick scored an additional 12 points.

That’s 57 points from four potential starters, and when you add in the defense those four – plus senior guard Horace Hill and junior guard Robbie Wyble – played you can see the reason for optimism. Senior guard Curtis Trexel, who led the Bulldogs in scoring in several games last year, is the probable fifth starter.

The size factor is definitely there with Marshburn, Page, and the 6-foot-2 Sicknick allowing Durr to put some big bodies on the floor.

Senior center Brian Hill brings some veteran experience off the bench while Durr has been impressed with the early efforts of newcomers like freshman center Matt Elmore –who had six points and a handful of rebounds on Friday – and junior guards Gekwan Bryant and D’Angelo Williams.

The Bulldogs open play Tuesday (Nov. 20) at home against 2A Richlands before traveling to Wilmington next Tuesday (Nov. 27) for a game at Coastal Christian. They finish the month of November with road games at Richlands (Nov. 29) and at Trask (Nov. 30).

20th Nov2012

2012-13 Dixon Basketball Schedule

by Ken Clarke

2012-13 Dixon Basketball Schedule

November 20                          Dixon vs. Richlands (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)                4:00pm

November 27                          Dixon @ Coastal Christian (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)     3:30pm

November 29                          Dixon @ Richlands (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)                4:00pm

November 30                          Dixon @ Trask (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)                        4:00pm

December 3                             Dixon vs. White Oak (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)              4:00pm

December 4                             Dixon vs. Swansboro (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)              4:00pm

December 7                             Dixon vs. Trask (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)                       4:00pm

December 10                           Dixon vs. Wilmington Christian Academy                 4:30pm

December 11                           Dixon @ Swansboro (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)               4:30pm

December 19                           Dixon vs. Topsail (JVG, JVB, VG, VB)                    4:00pm

December 27th, 28th and 29th Christmas Tournament at Jacksonville High School-games starts at 3:00pm (VB)

December 26th, 27th and 28th Christmas Tournament at Dixon High School (VGB).

January 3                                 Dixon vs. North Duplin                                             4:30pm

January 4                                 Dixon vs. Southwest                                                   4:30pm

January 8                                 Dixon @ Pamlico                                                        4:30pm

January 11                               Dixon @ Jones Senior                                                4:30pm

January 18                               Dixon vs. East Carteret                                               4:30pm

January 25                               `Dixon @ Lejeune                                                      4:30pm

February 1                               Dixon @ Southwest                                                   4:30pm

February 5                               Dixon vs. Pamlico                                                       4:30pm

February 8                               Dixon vs. Jones Senior                                                4:30pm

February 12                             Dixon @ East Carteret                                               4:30pm

February 15                             Dixon vs. Lejeune                                                       4:30pm

February 18-22                        CPC Tournament @ Lejeune                                      TBA

20th Nov2012

Lack of height a hindrance to Lady Bulldogs’ success

by Lee Wagner

HOLLY RIDGE – There are several ingredients necessary to be successful on the basketball court. A good coach can overcome a lot of shortcomings with patience and a solid base of fundamentals but there is one thing you cannot coach, and that is height.

The Dixon High School girls’ basketball team has some of the parts necessary for success – a good and enthusiastic coach, senior leadership in the form of Miranda Davis, decent shooting (see Davis, again), and a desire to succeed.

What they do not have – again – is the size necessary to make them a contender for the top spot, although it does not temper the enthusiasm of Coach Cristel Caligure.

“I’m impressed by the enthusiasm and how hard this group of girls is working, and we have some good speed,” Caliguire said. “But we are young and we are lacking in size. I think, despite the fact we have a very strong conference, we have a decent chance to finish among the top three.”

Friday night the Lady Bulldogs had their annual Maroon vs. Gold introductory game, and the results – to be honest – sent mixed signals.

Splitting the squad in half, and trying to make both teams competitive, curtailed some of the scoring as the Gold team defeated the Maroon team 23-21. Sophomore guard/forward Corki Aquafredda (Maroon) led all scorers with 14 points – scoring the first 12 Maroon points in the contest.

Davis led the Gold team with seven points and three other girls – Mack Brinson, Allyna Ankney, and Keeshawn James – had four each.

Davis is the designated leader of this team. A three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, & soccer) she is a good shooter, handles the ball well, and gets her share of rebounds (seven in the scrimmage).

Aqufredda is a very good ball-handler, possibly the best on the team, and she showed a solid penchant to drive to the basket. She was 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, which will be an important area for this group of Lady Bulldogs.

Shianne Warren showed off some solid rebounding skills, pulling down a scrimmage-leading 16 boards. Jordan Parker chipped in on the boards with seven rebounds, and both will need to keep up that pace if the Lady Bulldogs are to be successful.

Carly Rochelle did not play in the scrimmage as she is battling a minor early-season injury, but she will definitely help with the ball handling and, last year, she was voted the best defensive player on the team.

Another young player, sophomore Mady Voorhees, showed some solid defensive skills while doing some good work on the boards and scoring four points. Mackenzie Brinson is another player who hustled throughout the evening.

All of this must eventually come together into one unit. The Lady Bulldogs are definitely capable of winning more than losing, but they have to learn to believe. Since the 2009-10 campaign their cumulative record is 24-50, with a 14-12 season (2009-10) factored in. That boils down to 10-38 the past two years.

Others showing promise were Mariah Person, Alex-Ann Price, Justina Lewis, Vanessa Fuentes, and Katie Jones.

The Lady Bulldogs open play this Tuesday at home against Richlands. They then hit the road for three consecutive games – at Coastal Christian (Nov. 27), at Richlands (Nov. 29), and at Trask (Nov. 30).

19th Nov2012

Trask girls ready to up, boys seeking more competitiveness

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – When you coach at one of the smaller schools (1A) in the state, and in the area, getting candidates out for a team is always a problem and it definitely has been a chore for the coaches to find candidates at Heidi Trask High School.

But things are looking up for the girls as soon as they iron some early injury problems because Coach Lindsay Noble has an athletic group with good size and number on the practice floor and is feeling pretty good about her team’s chances for success, and for the boys who also will be fielding an athletic team with strong numbers and some size.

Noble begins her seventh season (29-40 as she enters her fourth as head coach) for the Lady Titans, and her hopes are that the team – with six returning players back in the fold – can improve on last year’s 14-12 mark, and make a strong run at one of the top three spots in the conference.

“We have good size, we are strong defensively, the girls are working hard and have a positive attitude, and we have strong senior leadership,” Noble said. “Right now we’re working on improving our ball handling and our overall shooting, especially from the outside.”

Noble feels that Lakewood and James Kenan are the teams to beat in the conference, but when asked to realistically assess where she expects the Lady Titans to finish, she said, “Top three in our conference.”

Noble specifically mentioned five players – CeCe Murphy, Beth Williams, Rachel Wilson, Chrishonda Brown, and Deneesha Watkins – as the foundation for her optimism.

“CeCe is a great playmaker with good court vision, and she is a very good rebounder,” Noble said. “Beth is a great all-around athlete, a verbal and physical leader, and a very good defender.

Chrishonda is a great defensive player, a verbal and physical leader, and a huge role (versatile) player, and Rachel hustles all the time, has a great attitude, and is a very good rebounder. Denisha will alternate between the guard and forward positions as she is a flexible player with a very positive attitude.”

Noble is also hoping for big things from newcomers Kate Friesen, Shawntia green, Saniyyah Notis-McAllister, and Whitney Rimel.

Last year the boys finished with a 9-15 record (5-9 in the tough Tri-County 1A Conference), but depth was a problem especially when injury or illness was combined with foul trouble in specific situations.

Veteran Coach Rodney Orr, 228-188 in coaching stops at Topsail and Trask, begins his second season as the top man in Titantown and while he only has three varsity letter-winners back they are good ones.

“We are very athletic and the work ethic is very good, and we are young,” Orr said. “But the one thing we are lacking is height and, in some positions, experience.”

Experience will come for some of the younger players in a pre-conference schedule that includes 4A power New Hanover and 2A teams North Brunswick and Topsail, but the lack of height could be a problem especially in a conference with teams like Wallace-Rose Hill, Pender, and Midway – three teams Orr points to as contenders for conference superiority.

Leading the way will be junior shooting guard Rasheed Brown. Brown is an athletic player with good moves to the basket and an excellent outside shot, especially from three-point range, strong rebounding skills, and good court vision.

D. J. Love will see time at both shooting guard and point guard, and Kemodrick James will get a great deal of time at the power forward position. Senior Andrew Chomiczewski (6-foot-3, 225 lbs.) will help clog the middle defensively and has shown a decent mid-range jumper.

Orr is also hoping for big things from newcomers Tynaffit Davis, matt Sherman, and Tamarack Bolden.

The regular season for both teams opens next Tuesday (Nov. 20) when they welcome New Hanover to Rocky Point. That game will be followed by an away game at North Brunswick (11/28), a home game against Dixon (11/30), and an another home contest against Topsail (12/4).

18th Nov2012

Sharks help bring flag football to Surf City

by Contributor

SURF CITY – Ready! Hut-hut! Go Sharks!!  The Surf City Sharks are the area’s newest semi-pro football team, now organizing for the Spring 2013 season.  As an important part of their community mission they are assisting the Town of Surf City Recreation Department in launching a late fall Flag Football league designed for youngsters from 6-12 years old.

Signups are now underway through www.surfcityflagfootball.playerspace.com  or through Recreation/Athletics  on  the Town of Surf City site (www.townofsurfcity.com).  The cost is only $30 for online registration.  Registrations can also be completed at Surf City Community Center during business hours where cash and checks will also be accepted.

Practices will be on Saturdays and games on Sundays, both at 1:30 pm. Games will run from November 4 through December 16, rain, sleet, snow or shine.

“We are totally thrilled to be involved with football in Surf City,” says Sharks Managing Partner Bryan Ayers.  “We are really glad to help get it off the ground and help introduce the game to a new generation.”  Sharks players will assist with developing skills, coaching and officiating.

The Surf City Athletic complex includes a full-size football field which will be the home of the Sharks in Spring 2013.  The youth program Flag Football will utilize an age-appropriate grid within it.  Players are slated to complete in 7v7 no tackle games that will last approximately one hour in length.  Additional coaches and other volunteers are also welcome.

For more information call Surf City Parks & Recreation 910-328-4887.

17th Nov2012

Soccer referee clinic to be held in Surf City

by Contributor

SURF CITY – Do you have what it takes to blow the whistle in a soccer match?  If so, here is your opportunity!

Surf City Community Center will be the host site for a North Carolina Soccer Referee Association (NCSRA) referee clinic on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 9 am to 6 pm.  The clinic will provide for introductory level USSF (United State Soccer Federation) certification and can also be used as an upgrade clinic for those who are already Recreational Level referees.  It can also be taken and utilized by former referees who have let their past certification lapse.

The minimum age to take the course is 14 although 13 year-olds may take the course and receive their certification upon turning 14.  A portion of the course is online and this part must be taken by participants before they come to class so course walk-ins will not be allowed.

To register, participants may go to NCSRA.org and follow the links or else go directly to https://ncreferees.gameofficials.net/public/class/classSearch.cfm?classTypeID=404 to sign up through ncreferees.gameofficials.net.  Course pre-payment must also be done online and cannot be taken at Surf City Community Center.

This certification allows soccer officials to referee in any USSF sanctioned league including leagues affiliated through the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association and U.S. Club Soccer.

For more information call Steve Unger at the Town of Surf City Parks & Recreation at 910-328-4887 or e-mail at athletics@townofsurfcity.com

16th Nov2012

Lady Pirates place four on All-Conference team,
Pearsall selected as Coach of the Year

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Record aside, one of the best ways to determine how good a season was is when conference coaches get together and decide the best players in the league, and the Coach-of-the-Year.

The East Central 2A Conference, which includes the Topsail High School girls, recently got together and chose their All-Conference team, and the 14-0 champion Lady Pirates faired very well with five girls on the team.

In addition, Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall was selected as the conference’s Coach-of-the-Year. It was the second time in the Lady Pirates five years in the conference that Pearsall has been awarded that honor, and this year the choice was unanimous.

Topsail senior middle-hitter Carlie Smith was unanimously chosen as the conference’s Player-of-the-Year, and joining her on the All-Conference team were senior setter Angie Poage, junior outside hitter Sarah Woodward, and sophomore outside hitter Kayla Hyatt.

It is the third All-Conference selection for Smith, and the second for both Poage and Hyatt.

The Lady Pirates also recently held their season-ending banquet and Smith and Poage were chosen by the Topsail coaches as Co-Most Valuable Players, and Woodward was selected as the Most Improved Player.

“We talked about how successful the season had been and talked to the underclassmen about continuing the success for next year,” Pearsall said. “We’re going to have some struggles next year moving into a 3A/4A conference. We’re going to be missing a lot of size and a ton of experience, and we’ll have to find new leaders on the court. But I think this group will step up and meet the challenge.”

Pearsall loses five very good seniors – Smith, Poage, Lacey Aklerley, Kaleigh Bordeaux, and Summer Darnell.

During the four-year varsity tenure of Smith and Poage the Lady Pirates won three conference titles (the only one they lost they had to forfeit all their matches due to an ineligible player), they won 44 consecutive conference matches (three-straight unbeaten championship seasons and the final two conference games of the 2009 season), and they made the playoffs and advanced to at least the third round every year.

16th Nov2012

Pirates’ wrestling team primed and ready for
successful year

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Every coach in every winter sport is optimistic at this time of the year, and Topsail High School wrestling Coach Jake Pence is no different.

The difference between Pence’s optimism about this year’s team, and the positive feelings of some other coaches, is Pence has the horses – and the depth – to back up those optimistic viewpoints.

There is always change from year-to-year but the one constant at Topsail over the last six years is Pence (419-83-3 overall as a head coach), whose teams have amassed 279 wins during his tenure.

The Pirates do lose two excellent wrestlers – Italo Medelius and Ben Croft – from last year’s 15-7 (7-1 in the East Central 2A Conference), but he welcomes 18 letterwinners back, including several who placed in the state competition last season.

“We have grown in a tremendous manner in comparison from last year,” Pence said. “Last year was a very young team of athletes getting their first chances to start. They trained extremely hard during the season and took their lumps along the way. We didn’t even have full squad last year which forced us to give up 24 points in forfeits in every match early. But by the end of the season we were only giving up an average of nine points in live wrestling, which is tremendous and says a lot about this year’s returnees.

“They have worked really hard in the offseason and this season I will put out my best Topsail wrestling team yet during my tenure as head coach. I am optimistic this season that we are back in the hunt for the 2A North Carolina state championship, and we will be competitive against any opponent in any division. If we can pull off first in our (East Central 2A) conference then we will be first in the state.”

Now that’s optimism, but with every optimistic viewpoint comes a little hesitation.

“We are going to be training some young wrestlers to take up some big roles on our team this season so that we can have a full team,” Pence said. “It’s the job of my returning wrestlers to develop them as fast as possible.”

Pence listed nine of his wrestlers as potential contenders for individual conference honors – Taylor Webster, Johnny Deveaugh, Brandon Britt, Brandon Mendoza, Tate Correll, Robert Sculthorpe, Eric Thigpen, Matt Schaefer, and Jon Suggs.

The veteran coach went even further in singling out three wrestlers who placed in the state meet last year – Taylor Webster, Johnny Deveuagh, and Jon Suggs.

“Taylor has worked hard to develop his talents in the offseason and this season will be his best yet, said Pence of his 120-pounder who placed 10th in the state last season. Johnny (10th in the state last year, penciled in at 126 this season) has a tremendous work ethic and is very skilled. He will have a great opportunity at the end of this season to do some amazing things if he stays focused.

“Jon (6th last year and at 195 this year) has worked hard in the offseason. He is seen as a dark horse this coming season but he is going to surprise some people with his new skills if he stays hungry.”

Of wrestlers Brandon Mendoza, Tate Correll, Joe Sculthorpe, and Cody Howell, Pence says, “They should all have great seasons and they are going to be huge part of our success.”

The season will get underway for the Pirates on Nov. 20 (Tuesday) at the Eastern Wayne Super Quad. Topsail will next wrestler on Saturday (Dec. 1) at the Terry Bache Duals at Topsail.

15th Nov2012

Lady Pirates set sail on new course under new coach

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Change is never really a welcomed thing but sometimes life sets down different paths for people to take, and Topsail High School girls’ basketball Coach Sarah Graves faced a, “Which fork in the road to take,” decision this past summer and after a lot of painful consideration, she chose the one that took her away from something she loved doing, to something else she loved doing only the second one provided a better situation for not only the present, but the future.

Graves left her teaching position at North Topsail Elementary to take a teaching position at Forest Hills Elementary, which was closer to her home and which – in the long run – may pay bigger and better dividends for her teaching future.

The most painful part of the decision was she would have to give up coaching the Lady Pirates’ varsity basketball team, and that was not easy.

So now the Lady Pirates, who finished 13-12 overall last year with a team of quick, smallish players, will sail in a different direction under a new coach – Jim Clanahan. Clanahan is a coaching veteran but most of his experience was with boys’ teams, so this is going to be sort of new path for him, too.

“Coaching basketball is basically the same whether it’s boys or girls,” said Clanahan, who was an assistant on a girls’ team last year under his son. “We have to work on and understand the fundamentals of the game, and go out on the court and execute them.

“This is an interesting group of both veterans and youth and they seem anxious to learn, and anxious to do well.”

Clanahan welcomes three girls back – seniors Mindi White and Victoria Reilly, and junior Chandler Skipper – who saw considerable varsity playing time last year, but he also has a group of young girls that should make the team better, taller, and deeper.

Early appearances indicate Clanahan (204-144 with a state championship on his ledger as boys’ coach in Georgia) is blessed with something that Graves did not have in recent past seasons – height.

Reilly and Mindi White both started last year, and both can play the game. Reilly battles hard under the boards while White is one of those players every coach wants – one who will go through a wall for you.

Skipper has shown the ability to shoot the ball, she just needs more confidence in her own abilities, and she could provide some valuable scoring. Senior volleyball standout Carlie Smith (6’2”) is out for the first time in three years and she has already impressed with her athletic ability.

Sophomore Kayla Hyatt (5’11”) will also be a major contributor. Hyatt had worked her way into the starting lineup last year as a freshman before an injury cut her season short.

Junior Reagan Holloway is another athletic volleyball player who is out for the basketball team, and she should be able to contribute both defensively and on the boards.

The future and perhaps the present lies in the younger girls who are vying for a spot on the varsity. Sophomore Kealey Wohglemuth has a year of varsity experience under her belt now, and she should be better equipped to handle the demands of varsity basketball.

Don’t be surprised to see two freshmen – Amberly Wolf and Keri White – getting significant playing time, along with Payton Schoenleber, Lauren Lee, and Emma Wolff.

Being new to the area, and to the East Central 2A Conference, Clanahan did not offer an opinion as to which were the teams to beat, but Northside is always at the top of the heap, and East Duplin and Swansboro should both be strong

The girls will get a huge test in their season opener when they welcome 4A power Ashley to Hampstead. That opener will be followed up by home games against 3A Jacksonville (Nov. 28) and 1A perennial power Pender (Nov. 30).

14th Nov2012

Topsail boys aim to challenge for conference supremacy

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Topsail High School boys’ basketball Coach Jeff Gainey doesn’t expect his players to do anything different than anyone else, he just expects them to do it better, and this year’s Pirates’ hoops team has the potential to do just that despite the loss of two of the better players who had come through the programs in recent years to graduation.

The Topsail boys’ finished with an overall record of 18-9 that included a 10-4 record in the East Central 2A Conference, thought by many to be the toughest 2A conference in the east, and some think in the state.

Now a new year is upon us and Gainey bring back seven returning players from that 18-9 team, including starters Tyler Hagan, Trevor Savidge, and Jarrin Sullivan, and a group of players that should provide some talent and depth to go along with the three returnees.

Topsail boy’s Coach Jeff Gainey likes what he sees of his group in the early practices, and points to experience as one of the team’s major strengths.

“We return three starters and two of them (Hagan and Savidge) have played in 54 varsity games and both made All-Conference a year ago,” Gainey said. “Overall this is a great group and they are working hard to get better.

“The one thing we have to do to compete is get better defensively. Everyone must embrace their role. I like where we are to a point but it’s going to take some time for everything to come together.”

One of the reasons for that is the loss of Payton Ball and Will Thomas. Ball and Thomas were the top two scorers last year, and they provided an amazing amount of senior leadership.

Gainey had a hard time discerning which of the conference teams was the team to beat but – in no particular order – he listed Croatan, Northside, Clinton, Richlands, and South Lenoir as conference contenders while saying of his own team, “We hope to compete for one of the playoff spots.”

The three veterans – Savidge (9 points, 6 rebounds per game last year), Hagan (9 points, 7 boards), and Sullivan (3 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) – will need to be at the top of their games on most nights for a playoff spot to happen.

“Trev (6-foot-3) and Tyler (6’3”) both must play with a high level of energy each night,” Gainey said. “And Jarrin (6’2”) has to put us in situations where we can execute.”

Behind those three are four players – seniors Mason Kimmel, Matt Gilgo, Devin Williams, and Davis Ball – who are competing for a starting position and significant playing time.

“Matt (6’2”) was a key off the bench last year and he must play within himself,” Gainey said. “Davis (6’4”) plays with a lot of energy and he has gotten better every year, Devin (6’1”) will give us minutes in the post, and Mason (6’0”) must play with a lot of energy.”

Depth, along with the solid size factor, is something that the Pirates will have this year with several other players battling to get on the court including junior guards Jeremiah Bland, and Shannon Washington, junior forwards Tanner Surratt (6’3), sophomore forward Jake Sullivan (6’3), and sophomore guard Austin Schoenleber (6’1”).

The Pirates will get a huge test in their season opener when they welcome 4A power Ashley to Hampstead on Nov. 20. Topsail will stay at home for their next two games, against 3A Jacksonville on Nov. 28 and against 1A perennial power Pender on Nov. 30.