22Vernon AldridgeEarly returns from the recent N.C. High School Athletic Association Eastern Regional basketball tournament held at Fayetteville State’s Capel Arena and Methodist University’s Riddle Center, appear to be generally positive.

Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for Cumberland County Schools, traveled back and forth between the two venues on championship Saturday and came away with a good impression.

“The smaller gyms gave a bit more of an energetic atmosphere,’’ he said. “The only issue we had was at the Clinton game.’’

Clinton’s powerful girls’ team, which won the 2-A regional title, drew a crowd that packed one side of the Methodist gym and actually had people seated on the floor. But there were apparently no major complaints despite the size of the crowd.

Aldridge said the biggest crowd of the day came from Greene Central in the 2-A boys’ final. “They came with four or five busses,’’ Aldridge said. “Every seat was taken for that first game.’’

Aside from the change of venues for the regional this year, the NCHSAA also made a change in tournament operations. In past years, retired county athletic directors Fred McDaniel from Cumberland County and Ronnie Chavis of Robeson County had served as the two site supervisors.

This year, members of the NCHSAA central office staff, Tra Waters and Mark Dreibilbis, took over those responsibilities. Aldridge said the county mainly provided the NCHSAA with county personnel to work at the two venues.

The county didn’t sign a long-term contract with the NCHSAA, and Aldridge said it will be up to the folks in Chapel Hill to decide whether the tournament will return to Fayetteville next year or move somewhere else.

• Belated congratulations to veteran Pine Forest coach Jim Farthing, who was recognized in February with the naming of the gym at Pine Forest Middle School in his honor.

Farthing coached there when it was still Pine Forest High School, before the current school building was constructed on Andrews Road.

A number of his coaching peers and former players attended the ceremony in the middle school gym.

• We reported a couple of issues ago that a controversial bill was working its way through the N.C. legislature that would give parents in North Carolina the power to overrule a doctor and allow their child to return to athletic competition in spite of a doctor’s diagnosis of a concussion.

My friend Joe Sirera of the Greensboro News and Record recently reported that wiser heads have prevailed and that provision has been removed from the bill.

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