High School Highlights

Cumberland County athletes cleared for July 6 return

13 CumberlandCountySchoolsNEWlogoAthletes and coaches from the Cumberland County Schools will be allowed to begin off-season workouts effective Monday, July 6.

“We look forward to getting our student-athletes back on campus safely,’’ said county student activities director Vernon Aldridge in a press release last week. “The July 6 date is subject to change if state and local directives deem it necessary.’’

The decision was made following the announcement by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association that it was lifting the statewide hold on summer workout sessions and allowing schools to resume on June 15. However, the NCHSAA said it would be the right of each school system to announce if it would open June 15th date or wait until later.

Aldridge said workouts in the county will be held under guidelines released by the NCHSAA, as well as additional guidance from the Department of Health and
Human Services.

In the weeks prior to July 6, Aldridge said county schools will make sure they have the supplies and equipment required to insure safe practices, along with instruction for athletic staff on following the prescribed procedures.

By returning July 6, Cumberland County will miss the NCHSAA dead period normally held the week of July 4. A second dead period in July, the week of the annual East-West All-Star games, has been waived as the games and North Carolina Coaches Association Clinic this year have been canceled.

Athletes and parents must complete registration forms online using the "Final Forms" link that can be found on each school’s website in order for athletes to participate in summer workouts.

Any student with an athletic physical performed on or after March 1, 2019, will be considered eligible for 2020-21. Students who had a physical earlier than that date will be required to get a new one before attending workouts.

Assuming there are no other changes to the calendar, the July 6 date will give Cumberland County athletes four weeks of summer workouts before the official start of fall practice, which is still scheduled for Aug. 1.

State basketball co-champs headline county's shortened sports year

12 01 MatthewPembertonJust as Cumberland County was hoping to celebrate a pos-sible high point in mid-March with two state basketball champions, the high school athletic season across the state of North Carolina came to a crashing half because of restrictions imposed to pre-vent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Not only was the basketball season prevented from ending on the court, spring sports athletes saw their seasons end after just a week, and they were eventually canceled.

12 02 KylieAldridgeBut while the year may have ended abruptly for many county athletes, there were some who were able to com-plete their seasons. Here’s
a quick recap of the athletic year by season.

Football — South View and Terry Sanford finished with 7-1 conference records in the Patriot Athletic Conference with the Tigers winning the
head-to-head matchup on the field 23-17 in a game that went double overtime.

12 03 MiyaGilesJonesDorian Clark led the county in rushing with 2,346 yards. The top passer was Dashawn McCullough of E.E. Smith with 2,336 yards.

Volleyball — Gray’s Creek cruised to the Patriot Athletic Conference title with a 25-1 record, led by Kylie Aldridge and Kelsie Rouse with 77 and 70 aces respectively.

Boys soccer — Gray’s Creek edged Terry Sanford for the Patriot Athletic Conference title, finishing one game ahead of the Bulldogs in the league stan-12 04 DallasWilsondings. Eric Chavez was the leading scorer for the Bears with 17 goals and 14 assists.

Girls tennis — Cape Fear ended a 17-year losing streak to perennial county tennis power Terry Sanford, beating the Bulldogs 6-3. Terry Sanford wound up as the No. 1 seed in the state playoffs while Cape Fear earned a wildcard berth. Cape Fear reached the third round of the state 3-A playoffs, ended 14-2 after losing to unbeaten New Hanover.

The Colts were led by Brooke Bieniek and Paige Cameron.

Cross country — Octavious Smith of E.E. Smith was the top male runner in the county, winning the Patriot Athletic Conference meet with a time of 12 05 dmarcodunn16:09.10. Cape Fear, led by Jonathan Piland and Julius Ferguson, was the team winner for the boys.

For the girls, Terry Sanford’s Rainger Pratt won with a time of 20:21.90. The Bulldogs also took the team prize.

Girls golf — Toni Blackwell again led Cape Fear to the Patriot Athletic Conference title. She went on to win the 3-A East Regional tournament and placed third in the NCHSAA tournament. For the regular season, Blackwell averaged 77.9 per round. 


12 06 toniblackwellWinter

Basketball — Westover’s boys and E.E. Smith’s girls came within days of playing for state 3-A bas-ketball titles, only to have the restrictions put into place because of COVID-19 see their games first postponed and eventually canceled. The NCHSAA Board of Directors eventually decided to declare all of the teams that had advanced to this year’s state basketball finals cochampions.

The Westover boys were led by D’Marco Dunn, who averaged 20.8 points per game and has recei-ved numerous college scholarship offers.

Miya Giles-Jones was Smith’s leading scorer with 13.4 points per game.

Wrestling — South View edged Cape Fear for the Patriot Athletic Conference regular season honors, but the Colts brought home more state hardware. Dallas Wilson won his third consecutive state individual title for Cape Fear while teammate Nick Minacapelli won his first title after a third-place finish a year ago. Wilson was also named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state 3-A tournament.

Bowling — It was a banner year for local bow-ling as the Gray’s Creek boys and Terry Sanford girls captured state championships.

Junior Zoe Cannady helped pace Terry Sanford while on the boys’ side Terry Sanford’s Rolf Wallin won the boys’ state individual title.

The Gray’s Creek boys were led by regular sea-son MVP C.J. Woodle and Gio Garcia.

Swimming — Cape Fear’s boys and Terry Sanford’s girls were the top swim teams in the county. Among the top swimmers were Terry Sanford’s Allison Curl and Pine Forest’s Brandon Chhoeung.


Baseball — Gray’s Creek was off to a 5-0 start when the season ended. Ben Jones was batting .667.

Softball — Cape Fear was 6-0 and South View 3-0. The top three hitters were Kylie Aldridge of Gray’s Creek at .727, Morgan Nunnery of Cape Fear at .722 and Jaden Pone of Gray’s Creek at .714.

Girls soccer — Terry Sanford was off to a 4-0 start led by eight goals from Maiya Parrous and seven from Corrinne Shovlain.

Track, golf, tennis and lacrosse seasons were practi-cally wiped out by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Major Awards
Here is a list of all Cumberland County Schools athletes that received major individual awards from their conferences during 2019-20: Patriot Athletic Conference


Athlete of the Year —
Matthew Pemberton, South View
Offensive Player of the Year — Dorian Clark, Terry Sanford
Defensive Player of the Year — Jackson Deaver, Terry Sanford


MVP — Kylie Aldridge, Gray’s Creek

Boys Soccer

Offensive Player of the Year — Carlos Villarreal, Pine Forest

Defensive Player of the Year — Davis Molnar, Terry Sanford

Goal Keeper of the Year — Davin Schmidt, South View

Girls Tennis — Kelcie Farmer, Pine Forest Boys Cross Country — Octavious Smith, E.E. Smith
Girls Cross Country — Rainger Pratt, Terry Sanford

Girls Golf — Toni Blackwell, Cape Fear
Boys Basketball — D’Marco Dunn, Westover Girls Basketball — Faith Francis, Westover Wrestling — Dallas Wilson, Cape Fear
Boys Bowling — C.J. Woodle, Gray’s Creek Girls Bowling — Donna Kerechanin, South View Girls Swimming— Allison Curl, Terry Sanford Boys Swimming — Aiden Stockham and Brandon Chheoung, Pine Forest

Cheerleading — Avery Schenk, Terry Sanford Sandhills Athletic Conference

Swimming — Anna Miller, Jack Britt

From top to bottom: Matthew Pemberton, Kylie Aldridge, Miya Giles-Jones, Dallas Wilson, D'Marco Dunn, Toni Blackwell

Photo credit for Giles-Jones: Matthew Plyler/MaxPreps




Cautious NCHSAA hopes practice can resume shortly

10 quetuckerBarring any last-minute changes caused by the situation with COVID-19, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has set a tentative date of June 15 for hopefully allowing its member schools to resume some kind of workouts in preparation for what it hopes will be a fall sports season.

But the look of those workouts and the look of the fall sports season are pictures that will both be dramatically altered and possibly out of focus based on the various plans that have been put forward for how teams can proceed.
On a video conference call with reporters statewide last month, NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker announced the official extension of the current summer dead period to June 15, hoping that by then, the Phase Two plan of reopening the state of North Carolina would allow enough flexibility for teams to conduct some kind of practices.

“We will be very deliberate in our task, which is one reason we have not rushed,’’ Tucker said.

The main reason for taking it slow, Tucker said, was to carefully develop plans to make workouts safe as possible and allow coaches and athletic directors time to develop their own local plans of how to secure things like hand sanitizer and set up hand-washing stations.

“It will not be possible to prevent every student-athlete from contracting COVID-19,’’ Tucker said. “It’s our goal to do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, our coaches and the communities represented by our schools.’’

For some sports, like football and wrestling, summer workouts will likely not allow any physical contact, making them more sessions devoted to conditioning than actual practice sessions.

Tucker said the current NCHSAA plan is not to hold any team back from practice once June 15 arrives, but to allow all of them some form of workouts within the guidelines set down by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The National Federation of State High School Associations has also issued a lengthy set of guidelines, but Tucker said the DHHS guidelines would take precedence.

The big question yet to be answered is will there be a fall sports season, especially football, which generates much of the revenue that is the life blood for the entire athletic program at many schools.

The other question yet to be answered is how many fans, if any, would be allowed to attend football games or other sporting events. That is a question Tucker is not ready to answer.

“To not have any fans in the stands would be rough,’’ she said. “We are not at the point yet where we are pulling up the tent on football this fall. We are hopeful we can have some fans.’’

Once the fall arrives, Tucker said the NCHSAA will look at any option possible to putting teams on the field, especially football. That could mean everything from a later than normal start to cutting the season short.

NCHSAA bylaws do not prohibit moving a sport to another season, but Tucker said that’s something that the NCHSAA would prefer not to do. “Moving sports season is a last resort,’’ she said. “It’s too early to talk about that. It’s very clear whatever we do will not be outside the parameters of the guidelines from the governor and DHHS.’’

For the moment, Tucker said the most important thing is that all agencies involved in deciding when and how high school sports will resume be consistent with what is put in place.

“It is important we are all singing from the same song sheet,’’ she said.

Gray’s Creek extends county Exemplary School streak

11 01 GraysCreek1For the third year in a row and the fourth time since 2009, Cumberland County has brought home the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Exemplary School Award, a measure of the quality of what the NCHSAA calls the total program at the winning school.

The win by Gray’s Creek adds them to a list that includes the last two winners, Terry Sanford and Cape Fear, along with Jack Britt, which captured the award in 2009.

A common thread at all of the schools is something that was started years ago by former Cumberland County Schools student activities director Fred McDaniel and continues today with one of his successors, Vernon Aldridge. That’s a push for all county schools to get their athletic directors and coaches certified by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

“I think it helps with the quality of coaching that our young people are going to receive,’’ Aldridge said. “I think the taking of National Federation courses is creating a better coach, which hopefully will create a better experience for our student athletes in Cumberland County.’’

Aldridge said the award does more than measure what a school does on the athletic field. It considers multiple elements, including academic performance.

“It’s exciting to have three schools in three years win this award,’’ Aldridge said. “What I hope it shows is we are providing a quality product, athletically as well as academically, for the students in Cumberland County.’’

Gray’s Creek athletic director Troy Lindsey, who like Aldridge is currently a member of the NCHSAA Board of Directors, feels the award for his school is the byproduct of having an outstanding staff, including both head and assistant coaches.
“Everyone of my head and assistant coaches gets it,’’ Lindsey said. “They get the whole purpose of what interscholastic athletics is about. It’s an extension of the classroom.’’

Lindsey feels Cumberland County has been a consistent winner of the Exemplary School Award because of outstanding leadership over the years at the county level, coupled with the fact the entire school system has embraced the importance of having certified coaches and athletic directors.

“I’ve been an athletic director for 15 years, and for 15 years it’s been the same message,’’ Lindsey said. “You’ve got to do it right and you’ve got to get the certification to stay up to date on things.
“I think we have embraced that as a system before other people have.’’

Westover’s Pompey wins NCHSAA scholarship

12 madisonpompeyWestover High School’s Madison Pompey has been named the Region 4 winner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Willie Bradshaw Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

The scholarship, which is worth $750, is presented to winners from each of the state’s eight geographic regions, with two statewide winners getting an additional scholarship of $1,000.

The winners are chosen from outstanding minority nominees for the award, which is named for Bradshaw, a Durham native who was a star athlete at Hillside High School and a longtime coach and athletic administrator. He is a member of both the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and National High School Halls of Fame.

Pompey competed in both cross country and track and field during all four years she was a student at Westover. She was a team captain her junior and senior years and earned second team all-conference, lettering in both sports.

She also received the Distance Award and the Coach’s Award.
She is active in her church as a member of the youth group and a participant with the church’s liturgical dance team.

Pompey volunteers both at her church and with local civic organizations. She plans to pursue a degree in forensic science.

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