High School Highlights

Scholar athletes of the week: 1/08/20

19 01 colin baumgartnerColin Baumgartner

Jack Britt • Swimming/cross country/track• Junior

Baumgartner has a weighted grade point average of 4.35. He is one of the captains of the swim team and is on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Student Athletic Committee for Region IV. He ranks 19th in a class of 495 students.

19 02 Anna MillerAnna Miller

Jack Britt• Swimming• Senior

Miller has a weighted grade point average of 4.34. She is a captain of the Jack Britt swim team and practices year round with the Fayetteville Aquatic Swim Team. She also coaches younger swimmers.

Board of education modifies 2.0 rule

18 01 Vernon Aldridge copyBeginning with the fall semester this year, incoming sixth graders and ninth graders in the Cumberland County Schools will get a clean slate when it comes to allowing them to participate in extracurricular activities at the school they’re attending.

Cumberland County is one of a number of school systems around the state that holds students to a higher standard when it comes to allowing them to take part in things like athletics, band, chorus and school clubs.

They must maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better to be eligible for extracurricular activities.

At a recent meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education, board members voted to lower that requirement for incoming sixth graders and ninth graders, giving them a clean slate and allowing them to take part in all extracurricular events during their first semester at their new schools.

Once the initial nine-week semester is over, if they haven’t managed to maintain a 2.0 average, the rule kicks in and they will be ineligible until their grades improve.

Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the county schools, along with board members Greg West and Susan Williams support the change as a way to help the incoming sixth and ninth graders deal with what is traditionally a difficult transition period by allowing them to become as fully involved in activities at their new school as possible.

Aldridge said he meets with county high school football coaches every February, and they brought up the idea of allowing the sixth and ninth graders to be able to waive the 2.0 requirement.
18 02 susan williams copy
“They don’t lose a lot of athletes once they get them into the program and monitor their grades,’’ Aldridge said. “We know when kids belong to something, whether it’s athletics or arts, they do better in school.’’

Williams, who taught choral music for 32 years, said there is research available that shows social and emotional outcomes of students improve when they are involved with the arts.

“One of my biggest concerns is if they are not allowed to start those programs in the sixth and ninth grades, they may never get back there,’’ she said. “I’ve had students come back to me through the years and say, ‘Ms. Williams, if it hadn’t been for your class, I would have been struggling everywhere else.’ ’’

She noted that ninth-grade band students get to spend a summer at camp with fellow band members and begin school in fall with as many as 100 or more new friends.

“They have already been able to fit into the mold of that new school,’’ she said.

West agreed with Williams that studies show the more engaged students are in all activities a school offers, the better they perform academically.

“It’s extremely important to get plugged in when you’re at a new school for the first time,’’ he said. “If they don’t plug in early, they’re far less likely to plug in later.

18 03 Greg West copy“The bottom line is they need more caring adults in their lives, not less.’’

West said extracurricular activities give students more access to those kinds of adults. Giving them greater access to those activities is what needs to happen, he said, adding, “First semester sixth grade and first semester ninth grade are probably the two most critical thresholds for these kids to shape their middle and high school careers.’’

Pictures from top to bottom: Vernon Aldridge, Susan Williams, Greg West

Cumberland County Schools gearing up for swim season

13 01 trent tursichWith practice opportunities improving and the number of swimmers continuing to increase, Cumberland County Schools are looking for a banner year this swimming season.
Here’s a brief look at some of the better teams and swimmers expected to compete this year.

 With only two swimmers graduated on the girls' side and a big class of freshman arriving for the boys, coach Amey Shook feels the outlook for her Cape Fear squad is bright.
“We have a tone of optimism at the abilities they are going to be bringing to the table,’’ she said.

Among the biggest reasons for Shook’s optimism is the return of her daughter, Amelia, to the roster.

Coach Shook describes Amelia as a jack of all trades who can swim almost any event.

For the last two seasons Amelia competed in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the conference and regional levels.

13 02 Brandon As a team, Cape Fear qualified for state in the 400 relay. Amelia just missed making the state meet in the 200 and 100.

“I think the best is yet to come,’’ Coach Shook said. “Amelia has been putting in her work, working on speed and conditioning.’’

She’s also been rehabbing from yet another knee injury, this one suffered in soccer, that sidelined her following her surgery in June.
She was able to resume swimming in September but doesn’t feel that’s going to hold her back during the season.

She thinks her best events this year will be the 100 backstroke and the 100 fly. She’s aiming for a finish of eighth or better in both at the regional so she can make the state meet.
“I’ve gone to states two years in a row on a relay team,’’ she said. “I want to make it individually.’’

Pine Forest

13 03 Allison CurlMore than two-thirds of coach Trent Turisch’s teams are freshmen and sophomores who have never swum before. “My biggest goal is to get something out of their season,’’ he said, “whether it’s to learn a new stroke or making sure they are able to better themselves.’’

The Trojans have benefited from the addition of dome-covered outdoor recreation pools, especially the one at College Lakes Recreation Center near Pine Forest.

Turisch only needs a few minutes to load up an activity bus and take his team over there after school to practice.

The bright spot for Turisch’s team this year is the return of possibly the best male swimmer in the county, Brandon Chhoeung. Turisch said Chhoeung is fully committed to swimming. He leaves practice with the Pine Forest team to go and practice with his club swimming team.

Chhoeung credits the coaches he’s worked with who’ve helped him develop the work ethic that drives him.

13 04 jared kaiserHe prefers the distance events because they show how much grit a competitor has. He said the 200 and 500 freestyle races are among his favorites.

“This year, I’ve been working mostly on my flip turns and my kicking,’’ he said. “I just want to get some fast times and see our team win the conference.’’

Terry Sanford

Bulldog coach Jared Kaiser only lost a handful of swimmers to graduation last year.

His biggest concern coming into the season is that efforts to get a public indoor swimming facility in Fayetteville appear to be stalled.

“There’s not really any place our kids can go to do year-round swimming,’’ he said. He said the domed outdoor pools are a welcome addition but are not much more than a Band-Aid for the problem. “It’s at least provided a little flexibility where teams can have more people at practice because there are more lanes,’’ he said.

13 05 Amey ShookKaiser’s top returning swimmer is Allison Curl, who specializes in the 500 freestyle along with the 100 and 200. “She can keep going and going,’’ he said of her endurance.
Curl swims for a club team so she’s in the water as much as five and six days per week.

She likes the distance events because at only 5-foot-3, the sprint races are more difficult for her.

“In a longer race it doesn’t matter because there is so much distance I can make up,’’ she said.

She relies on technique and endurance to carry her to wins. She thinks the 500 freestyle is her best shot to go to state because of her endurance and the fact fewer swimmers like to try it.
She’s confident about the team’s chances as well.

“The boys’ team is very strong and the girls are exceptionally strong,’’ she said.








13 06 Amelia Shook

County schools fare well in Holiday Classic

17 01 Cumberland County had a good showing in the recently-completed Holiday Classic basketball tournament, with county schools taking championships in three of the four brackets.

This was the second year of a major format change in the tournament that was instituted by Cumberland County Schools student activities director Vernon Aldridge.

After years of the county schools facing each other as many as five times in one season, Aldridge instituted the change that divided the 10 county schools into four brackets and brought in outside schools to lower the chance county schools from the same conference would meet each other in the tournament.

“We got a lot of compliments from the outside schools on how the tournament was run,’’ Aldridge said. One email from Eric Davis, coach at Wilmington Laney, called the tournament the best run event of its kind he had seen in his 19 years as a coach.

Here’s a look at the three brackets of the tournament that were won by Cumberland County Schools.

17 02 manasBoys
Len Maness Bracket

Westover’s boys downed Middle Creek, Laney and county rival Cape Fear en route to the championship.

Wolverine head coach George Stackhouse felt his team’s depth allowed Westover to utilize different styles of play and maintain poise in a couple of games when they didn’t get off to a good start.
Ma’Nas Drummond of Westover was named the Most Valuable Player of the Maness bracket, scoring 18 points in the title game to lead Westover to the win.

“We felt confident he was going to be able to contribute a lot this year,’’ Stackhouse said of Drummond. “His teammates and everybody were very happy he was able to get MVP.’’

Stackhouse said he feels his team is in a good place as it heads into conference play immediately after the holiday break. “We’ve still got a few things we need to work out,’’ he said. “I’d like halfcourt execution to be better.
“We’ve got to get everyone playing up to their ability, playing together as a team, see if we can’t keep improving.’’

Ike Walker Sr. Bracket

Terry Sanford downed Corinth Holders, Pine Forest and Southern Lee en route to winning the Walker bracket. Coach Karl Molnar said he’s been impressed with his team’s ability to work hard and move the basketball all season, and that continued during the run through the tournament.

17 03 David MolnarIf there was a shortcoming the team showed during the tournament, it was the inability to slow down individual opposing players who were on a shooting hot streak.

“It’s hard to win much of anything without playing some good defense,’’ Molnar said. “We’ve not quite mastered how to shut down that one kid that gets going. But we’ve managed to keep our opponents quiet as a whole and put us in a position to move the ball around and be successful offensively.’’

Molnar’s son, Davis, was chosen as the MVP of the Walker bracket, scoring 25 in the title game with Southern Lee.

Molnar said he and his son have frequent basketball conversations on and off the court. “Davis knows as player-and-coach or father-and-son he can talk to me,’’ Molnar said. “He had a good run of three games, and they came at a good time.’’

Molnar felt it was a good sign for county basketball that three of the four finalists in the boys’ brackets of the Holiday Classic were from Cumberland County.

“It’s looking pretty strong for us,’’ he said of the county teams. T
hings are looking good for the Bulldogs as well as they’ll enter into January’s conference schedule awaiting the return of football standout Ezemdi Udoh, who missed the Holiday Classic because of his participation in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

We can’t wait until we get him on the same sheet of music,’’ Molnar said.

Gene Arrington bracket
E.E. Smith’s girls served notice on the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference that even though they are young, they’ve apparently recovered from the graduation losses suffered last season.

Smith downed Corinth Holders, Westover and Wilmington Hoggard en route to the Arrington bracket championship.

Ke’Onna Bryant won MVP honors for Smith, playing a critical defensive role for her team en route to the championship.

Smith coach Dee Hardy praised Bryant for her aggressive play in the tournament and said she stepped up in key situations where Smith needed a steal or a rebound.

In the 41-32 win over Hoggard in the tournament final, Hardy said she learned some things about her young team and its perseverance and ability to maintain focus.

"We were able to get a lot of five-second counts and out-of-bounds plays,’’ Hardy said. “That was great to see.’’

If there was one troubling result from the tournament it was the fact Smith was the only Cumberland County girls team to make the championship round.

The next highest finishes from the county were third by Jack Britt in the Tom Jackson bracket and third by Westover in the Arrington bracket.

Hardy said she hasn’t seen all the county teams yet so she really can’t say how strong the conference is. For now, she’s focusing on her team.

“Our main focus will be trying to be disciplined and play self-motivated,’’ Hardy said. “We really need to fine tune some things and go back to some basics.’’

Picture 1: Ke’Onna Bryant won MVP honors for Smith, playing a critical defensive role for her team en route to the championship.Photo Credit: Matt Plyler

Picture 2: Ma’Nas Drummond of Westover was named the Most Valuable Player of the Maness bracket. Photo Credit: Matt Plyler

Picture 3: Davis Molnar was chosen as the MVP of the Walker bracket, scoring 25 in the title game with Southern Lee. Photo Credit: Matt Plyler




High School Highlights: Top 10 articles of the year

13 01 bazzleHere are the top ten Fayetteville and Cumberland County high school stories as selected by a panel of voters:

1. Tyler Bazzle scores for South View.

Tyler Bazzle, a student at South View High School, suffers from a form of cerebral palsy that causes him to be nonverbal and require a walker to get around.

He’s beloved by both students and faculty, and he is a fan of the South View football team and its star player, Matthew Pemberton.

South View athletic director Chad Barbour went to head coach Rodney Brewington with the idea of letting Bazzle suit up for a game, then running a play, giving Bazzle the ball and letting him score a touchdown.
The event was held at South View’s homecoming game with E.E. Smith, with the full support of the folks from Smith and the officiating crew.

Just prior to the kickoff, the ball was given to Bazzle, and best friends Kevin Brewington and Pemberton helped him into the endzone.

13 02 holiday hypeAfter the game, Pemberton gave Bazzle his game cleats.

“It’s an experience I’ll never forget,’’ Barbour said.

2. Wilson excels at wrestling

Dallas Wilson is following in the footsteps of his dad, Cape Fear High School wrestling coach Heath Wilson. His dad is a former state champ and Dallas has already surpassed his efforts.
Dallas won his second consecutive state 3-A wrestling title last year. Also winning from Cape Fear was Jared Barbour.

This year, Dallas is seeking to become only the second wrestler in Cumberland County history with three state titles.

The other is Richard “Pnut” Tolston of Jack Britt High School, who won three straight for Jack Britt High School from 2013-15.

3. Cumberland County athletic signings

Cumberland County Schools had a banner year for its athletes signing letters binding them to compete in athletes for colleges.

According to Cumberland County Student Activities Director Vernon Aldridge, 126 county athletes committed to play for a variety of colleges.

4. Special Olympics honors Gray’s Creek High School

Gray’s Creek High School was one of only two high schools in the state recognized by Special Olympics North Carolina for helping to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.
Gray’s Creek became an early leader in the Unified Sports program, which partners able-bodied athletes with special needs athletes so the latter can compete in sports including wrestling, track and bowling.

5. Terry Sanford’s Herz drafted by Chicago Cubs

After a brilliant high school career, Terry Sanford pitcher D.J. Herz was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 2019 Major League Draft.

Herz was selected in the eighth round by the Cubs. In his final season at Terry Sanford he was 8-1 with a Cumberland County Schools best 0.50 earned run average. He pitched 56.1 innings and led the county with 106 strikeouts.
Herz played for one of the Cubs’ two Arizona rookie league teams last year.

The lefthander appeared in six games, finishing with an 0-1 record and no saves in 10.1 innings pitched. He had eight walks and eight strikeouts.

6. Terry Sanford football stadium demolished

After years of debate about its future, the oldest and biggest high school football stadium in Fayetteville was torn to the ground.

 That forced this year’s Terry Sanford football and soccer teams to play all of their games away at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium.
The football team played one game at Fayetteville State’s Nick Jeralds Stadium.

The new stadium won’t be used until the first football game of the 2020 season, which is scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 20, against Lumberton.

7. Jason Norton leads Pine Forest while battling cancer

If there was ever a profile in courage, it has to be former Pine Forest athletic director Jason Norton. First diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Norton continued to make a regular commute from his native Hamlet to work as athletic director at Pine Forest.

He continued to fight to regain his health and remain at Pine Forest until the strain finally forced him to step down as Trojan athletic director, taking temporary leave in September.

8. Cape Fear ends South View cross country streak

The Cape Fear boys’ cross country team  ended one of the longest winning streaks in Cumberland County history this season when they halted South View’s run of 21 straight conference cross country championships.
Jonathan Piland sparked the Colts by placing second in the championship race with a time of 17:04.20.

Julius Ferguson was third overall for the Colts while Juan Alvarado took fifth, giving Cape Fear three runners in the top five.

Placing in the top 20 for Cape Fear were Collin Gaddy 10th, Alden Bostic 13th and Colton Danks 20th.

The Colts went on to place fourth in the regional meet and qualified for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship meet.

9. Fayetteville Academy wins state basketball title

Bill Boyette is no stranger to championship basketball. After a long record of earning titles in public schools, Boyette added a private school championship to his resume.

Boyette’s Fayetteville Academy boys won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A championship, defeating Wayne Country Day 64-45 in the title game.

Fayetteville Academy finished 27-3.

According to rankings posted at MaxPreps.com, the Eagles were No. 6 in the state among all schools, public and private, and No. 1 in their classification in the NCISAA.

10. TIE

Multi-sport standout and football broadcaster Don Koonce dies.

Don Koonce was one of the greatest multi-sport athletes in Cumberland County history.

After a successful stint in the minor leagues, he returned to his native county and became involved with the Mid-South Sports broadcasting team as a color commentator.

Eventually, he branched out on his own, founding DK Sports, Inc., which led to the creation of multiple broadcast teams covering everything from football to basketball to softball.
Koonce passed away shortly before the 2019 football season started.

His loss left a void in local high school sports coverage that will be almost impossible to fill.

Terry Sanford’s Dorian Clark sets school rushing record

There have been some great running backs at Terry Sanford, names like Nub Smith, Roger Gann, Dwight Richardson and Louis Craft just to list a few.
But among all of them, Dorian Clark now stands as the all-time leading rusher.

The senior running back finished his stellar career with the Bulldogs with 5,945 career yards and 67 touchdowns.

For the season he had 2,346 yards and 33 scores. The former was tops among Cumberland County running backs.


Picture 1: Tyler Bazzle celebrates his touchdown.

Picture 2: L-R, Dallas Wilson and Jared Barbour of Cape Fear pose with their championship brackets on the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum after winning NCHSAA state 3-A wrestling titles.


Latest Articles

  • Chemours and DEQ: Do the right thing
  • You’ve come a long way, baby ... Well, sort of
  • America is at war within
  • Cape Fear Valley Neurosurgery serves six-county region
  • Leadership: Five women to watch in 2020