Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bulldogs in a precarious position

The bad news for the Barton College men's basketball team is that it fell out of the No. 8 spot in the NCAA Division II East Region rankings Wednesday.

The good news is the Bulldogs only dropped to the ninth spot, despite losing twice since the last poll came out Wednesday, Feb. 21.

What this means for Barton is that it is still in the running to claim one of the eight regional berths and have at least a fighting chance to defend its national title. The problem, as I see it, is that Barton is the fourth Conference Carolinas team in the East top 10. With the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference each with an automatic bid for the respective champions and five teams combined in the top eight of the East poll, you can see it's sort of crowded. An at-large bid for the Bulldogs seems like a very, very long shot right now.

Of course, the Bulldogs could win the Conference Carolinas Tournament, which begins Monday, and get the automatic bid to the NCAA Div. II tournament.

But the 81-78 overtime loss Tuesday night at lowly St. Andrews did two things. First, it reinforced the commonly held belief by long-time league observers that no game should be considered a gimme. Front-running Mount Olive, the No. 2 East team and No. 17 Div. II squad, lost at Limestone on Saturday. Now, the Trojans have to win at Barton on Saturday to assure themselves of the regular-season championship — but more on that in a second.

The second thing the loss to the ninth-place Knights did for the Bulldogs — coupled with Belmont Abbey's defeat of Pfeiffer on Tuesday — was put them in the fifth spot in the standings. That means Barton's only chance of hosting a conference tournament game would be to beat Mount Olive on Saturday in front of a national television audience and win the coin flip for fourth.

(Update: Barton SID John Hackney has advised me that Barton will get the No. 4 seed if it beats MOC.)

If they beat Abbey in the opener, either in Wilson or Belmont, the Bulldogs would most likely go to Mount Olive for the semifinals. That's assuming, of course, MOC is the No. 1 seed and doesn't lose its first-round game.

There are a lot of variables to the equation right now and the Bulldogs could end up back in the regional, where anything can happen. But this team has had chance after chance to separate itself from the pack and it has not capitalized. Based on the history it's shown this season, I can't see Barton making a third straight regional trip, much less going to the Elite Eight for third year in a row.

Poll patrol: soccer, boys tennis offer initial rankings

When they start their season Thursday at Garner the Fike girls soccer team will be ranked No. 7 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A classification, says the Web site eurosportsscoreboard.com. The Lady Golden Demons old nemesis, Jacksonville White Oak, is situated at the top while just above Fike is Lake Norman, which defeated the Fike boys in the 3-A championship match last fall.

The poll really is the final 2007 poll but it's where the rankings begin for this year, too.

There is no 1-A girls poll currently on the site.

Greenfield earned the No. 14 spot on the private school pool

3-A girls soccer poll

The N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association released its first set of boys tennis polls and Southern Nash took the No. 2 spot in the 3-A rankings while Charles B. Aycock tied for ninth. Greene Central is seventh in the the 2-A rankings and, in the 1-A, North Johnston is tied for 10th.

N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association boys tennis polls

Former Tob Thomas 'Out in Left Field' in blogosphere

From Larry and Carroll Gaissert comes the word of a blog by former Wilson Tobs outfielder Jeff Thomas, who is preparing for his senior season at Northern Illinois University.

In his most recent entry, Thomas discusses the tragic shooting on the NIU campus a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure that's not what he had in mind when he agreed to keep a blog but his perspective of the tragedy and the effect it has on the entire university, including the baseball team, are worth reading.

Thomas played in just 34 games for the Tobs last summer as he was hampered by injuries. He batted .200 and scored 22 runs while stealing all four bases he attemped to purloin.

The Gasserts were his host family in Wilson.

Jeff Thomas: Out in Left Field

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lady Falcons soaring at the next level

The Charles B. Aycock softball program has been one of the most successful in The Wilson Daily Times coverage area in the past few seasons. The Lady Golden Falcons made four trips in five years to the N.C. High School Athletic Association "final four" at Raleigh's Walnut Creek Softball Complex.

Now a few of the mainstays on those teams are making their marks in college. Jenny Jackson, CBA's greatest player, has continued her excellence at Mount Olive College where she transferred last year after a stellar freshman season at NCAA Division I Western Carolina. Jackson was named Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week, her fourth such honor.

Also at Mount Olive, freshman Jazzmine Lee, another CBA product, singled home the winning run in the Lady Trojans' 7-6 victory against Belmont Abbey on Saturday. In the first game, an 11-0 MOC triumph, Lee belted her first collegiate home run.

In Laurinburg, Jasmine Dobbin, another CBA class of 2007 member, had three hits for the St. Andrews Presbyterian College team in its doubleheader loss to Anderson University on Sunday.

Good to see these former Lady Falcons are making their marks.

This season will be a little different in Pikeville for the first time in seven years. David West handed the head coaching reins to former CBA baseball player Brad Matthews, who was the head coach at Southern Wayne. West, who went 145-36 in six seasons, and assistant T.J. Lancaster won't be in the dugout but there should be no shortage of talent for Matthews.

The Lady Falcons' opener Tuesday against Fike was rained out and Thursday may be the make-up date. If not, weather permitting, CBA will host Clayton on Friday afternoon at 4.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tick, tick, tick — all the latest scores

In case you haven't noticed, the main sports page at wilsontimes.com now has a new feature — a sports ticker.

We'll be posting scores there on a regular basis as we get them throughout the NCHSAA basketball playoffs and into the spring sports season.

So if there's a score you just can't wait to read about in the paper the next day, check us out. We just might have it!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bryant leaving Greene Central for Havelock

The press conference is tomorrow but word leaked out yesterday about it so I'll go ahead and let everyone know that Greene Central is losing its outstanding football coach to Havelock.

Jim Bob Bryant called me last week to tell me, but asked I wait until Monday's press conference announcement at the school. I can't say I'm surprised that he's moving on. After all, Bryant is a tireless worker and still fairly young. He became the youngest coach on a Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas staff in December. He has led the Rams to the playoffs in each of his five years and won the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference championship in 2003 and 2005.

Bryant, who will remain at the school until the end of the school year, has organized Shrine Bowl combine camps each offseason and will host two more this spring. There's no telling how many miles he's driven his players trying to get them a college scholarship offer.

He will be missed around these parts. Check wilsontimes.com this week for a complete story on Bryant's decision and who is successor may be.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Playoff pairings set for East in all classifications

The brackets are pregnant, ready to begin their six-game labor and eventually give birth to eight N.C. High School Athletic Association basketball champions.

The NCHSAA released the brackets for most of its postseason play, with the 3-A West boys and girls and 4-A West boys and girls delayed until Sunday because of Saturday games.

But for those of us down east, the pairings are set.

The ones of interest to area readers are as follows:

East Sectional No. 2

Wildcard) South Granville (12-14) at 1) Beddingfield (25-1)
East Sectional No. 3
3) Fike (14-11) at 2) Eastern Alamance (17-7)
3) Rockingham County (22-5) at 2) Southern Nash (14-9)
East Sectional No. 4
4) SouthWest Edgecombe (12-11) at 1) Oxford Webb (21-4)
Notes: Beddingfield would play the D.H. Conley-Union Pines winner if the Lady Bruins reach the second round. Beddingfield, Conley, Bertie and Washington are the only teams with winning records in the sectional bracket. The Lady Bruins should reach Greenville.
In the second round, Fike would get the Northeast Guilford-Southern Lee winner while Southern Nash could meet Western Harnett or Northern Guilford. The Lady Demons and Ladybirds could meet for the sectional crown.
SouthWest Edgecombe would see the Harnett Central-Eden Morehead winner if the Lady Cougars beat Webb. A potential fourth meeting with NEW 6 rival Rocky Mount could be in the sectional final.

East Sectional No. 3

3) Pamlico County (16-7) at 1) North Johnston (19-6)
Notes: North Johnston originally was paired against Holly Ridge Dixon but at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the NCHSAA amended some of its brackets and the Lady Panthers' new first-round foe is Pamlico. If the Lady Panthers win, they'll still see either Pender County or Carolina Conference archrival Princeton in round 2.

NCHSAA 2008 girls basketball brackets

East Sectional No. 1

3) Burlington Williams (18-8) at 2) Hunt (18-7)
East Sectional No. 3
3) Northeast Guilford (18-9) at 2) SouthWest Edgecombe (16-7)
East Sectional No. 4
4) Fike (19-7) at 1) Northern Vance (21-1)
Notes: With a win, Hunt would meet the Jacksonville-Havelock winner. Lurking in the upper part of the backet is Eastern Carolina Conference rival Southern Wayne.
SouthWest Edgecombe would get the Southern Lee-Western Guilford winner if the Cougars advance. Nash Central, their NEW 6 Conference foe, is in the upper half of the bracket.
If Fike beats Northern Vance, the Demons would play the Eden Morehead-Union Pines victor. A third 2008 meeting with NEW 6 archrival Rocky Mount exists in the sectional final.

East Sectional No. 3

3) North Johnston (10-15) at 1) Pender County (20-5)
Notes: In the second round, the Panthers could meet Carolina Conference foe Ayden-Grifton for the fourth time this season. North Johnston has lost all three, including a 57-52 decision in the conference tournament championship Friday.

NCHSAA 2008 boys basketball brackets

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Demons downshift right out of a home playoff game

I was excited about the prospect of the Fike-SouthWest Edgecombe 3-A NEW 6 Conference varsity boys basketball tournament semifinal Wednesday at Fike.

After all these teams had each won on the other's courts during the season and were part of a four-way tie — with Rocky Mount and Nash Central — for first place in the regular season. Plus, each team boasted an exciting lead performer in Fike junior Jeremy Atkinson and SWE senior Eugene Jenkins which almost assured an explosive meeting.

But the first quarter saw the Cougars struggle to an 18-9 deficit. At least the Golden Demons were doing their part, especially guard A.J. Hines who nailed a trio of 3-pointers. Fike had four 3-balls in the quarter.

Then in the second, the Demons became deliberate, almost looking like they were in a slowdown. Naturally, the Cougars chipped away at the lead until they caught them late in the third quarter. By then, Fike's offense had devolved into what it had done during a midseason losing skid — standing around and waiting for Atkinson to do something.

"They just stood around. We didn’t play ball like we played all year," said a clearly disappointed Demons head coach George Drawhorn. "Just walked the ball down the floor. I guess it’s just one of those games.

"I kept changing point guards and saying push the ball but sometimes that’s all you can do as a coach. We just got outplayed tonight and, in the playoffs, instead of playing at home, we’re going on the road."

Drawhorn was right. The Demons forfeited a chance at the NEW 6's top seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs and lost the No. 2 seed outright. Now they must face Nash Central, a 74-71 loser to Rocky Mount in Wednesday's first semifinal, at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the conference's No. 3 seed.

Gone is the first-, and possibly second-round home playoff game for Fike. Now its first-round foe will be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

"Third (seed), you go to (Oxford) Webb or four, you go to Greensboro Dudley — so pick your poison," Drawhorn said.

The Demons are just going to have put Wednesday night behind them quickly and let any finger-pointing ride. It's do-or-die time and seasons have a way of ending all too quickly for team's not focused.

Rankings and kudos to Bulldogs

Almost everyone has a poll of some sort these days. Maybe I should start one here.

Until that happens, here are some recent rankings of interest to Barton College fans.

The men's basketball team — make that the NCAA Division II men's basketball team — stayed at No. 8 in the Div. II East Region rankings. The Bulldogs remain on the bubble for one of the eight regional berths but a win tonight at Queens would likely put them a little higher up should a team above them stumble.

By the way, Mount Olive, the No. 1 team in Conference Carolinas and the East rankings, climbed from 16th to No. 11 in the Div. II national coaches poll this week.

NCAA Division II men's basketball regional rankings
NCAA Div. II coaches poll

The Barton golf team grabbed a spot in the national rankings per the Golf World/Nike Div. II coaches poll. The Bulldogs of head coach John Hackney tied for the 25th and final spot with Rollins (Fla.) College and St. Cloud (Minn.) State University.

Barton tied for third at the Johnny Palmer/Pfeiffer Intercollegiate tournament earlier this week.

Golf World/Nike college golf polls

Finally, a word of praise for the Barton baseball team, which started the season 0-4 but has won 7-of-9 including four wins against No. 30 Kutztown (Pa.) and Wednesday's 7-5 defeat of No. 9 Francis Marion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conference Carolinas Tournament may be coming to Wilson Gym

Here's a quick heads-up for Barton College basketball fans. The Conference Carolinas has changed the format for both the men's and women's basketball tournaments.

Instead of having the top five regular-season finishers get a bye while the bottom six teams go at it in the first round, the league has opted to allow just the top eight teams into the tournament.

Furthermore, the tournament will not be held at a common site but instead on the floor of the higher seed for each round. The down side to this is that the men's and women's championships are now, probably, split up.

The men's and women's tournaments begin on March 3 with the semifinals scheduled for March 6 and the finals set for March 8.

This is potentially good news for both Barton squads, which still have outside shots to win their respective conference races. Wilson Gym could be the site of either tournament final — or both.

Just a reminder that a week from Saturday on March 1, the Bulldogs will host conference leader Mount Olive at noon in a nationally televised game on CSTV and FSN (Fox Sports Network) South.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Poll time! Poll time!

It's poll time again and this week the N.C. Softball Coaches Association gets into the act with its first 2008 rankings. However, no teams in The Wilson Daily Times readership area made the top 10 in any of the four N.C. High School Athletic Association classifications.

N.C. Softball Coaches Association poll

The NCPreps.com rankings for this week are out and the Beddingfield girls continue their reign atop the 3-A poll. Of course, these rankings won't matter very much soon as the NCHSAA playoffs are set to begin next week.

NCPreps.com high girls basketball polls
NCPreps.com high boys basketball polls

NCPreps.com high girls basketball statistics
NCPreps.com high boys basketball statistics

The N.C. Soccer Coaches Association has yet to change its rankings from the final 2007 for girls soccer, IMPACTBaseball.com won't update its initial rankings until some games are played and the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association will unveil its first rankings on Friday so stay tuned.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Conference tournament pairings announced

The 3-A NEW 6 Conference held its draw this morning (Saturday) to bust up the four-way tie for first place in the boys race. After all was said and done, Rocky Mount, the league leader for much of the season, ended up with the top seed while Fike was the No. 2 seed.

The seedings are only for the conference tournament which begins Monday night at Fike with the first-round boys action and continues through the week. The seedings for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs will be resolved in the NEW 6 Tournament but, if necessary, a play-in game for seeding purposes will happen either Thursday or Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the Golden Demons' gym.

The 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference is set with Kinston likely to host the finals as the highest boys seed. The 2-A Eastern Plains Conference likewise utilizes that format and Farmville Central as the No. 1 boys seed seems destined to be the finals site.

Information for the 1-A Carolina Conference has not been finalized but North Johnston's boys will host the boys first-round doubleheader on Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m. The Lady Panthers, the No. 1 seed, are ticketed for a semifinals berth Thursday in Kornegay Arena on the campus of Mount Olive College, where the finals will be held Friday.

3-A NEW 6 Conference
At Fike High School

First round
3) SW Edgecombe vs. 6) Northern Nash, 6 p.m.
4) Nash Central vs. 5) Southern Nash, 7:30 p.m.
3) Fike vs. 6) Nash Central, 6 p.m.
4) SW Edgecombe vs. 5) Northern Nash, 7:30 p.m.


1) Rocky Mount vs. Nash Central-Southern Nash winner, 6 p.m.
2) Fike vs. SW Edgecombe-Northern Nash winner, 7:30 p.m.

1) Rocky Mount vs. SW Edgecombe-Northern Nash winner, 6 p.m.
2) Southern Nash vs. Fike-Nash Central winner, 7:30 p.m.


Championship, 6 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.

3-A Eastern Carolina Conference
First round

At Hunt High School
3) Southern Wayne vs. 6) Hunt, 6 p.m.
3) Hunt vs. 6) C.B. Aycock, 7:30 p.m.

At Eastern Wayne High School
4) Kinston vs. 5) C.B. Aycock, 6 p.m.
4) Eastern Wayne vs. 5) Beddingfield, 7:30 p.m.


At Kinston High School
1) Beddingfield vs. Kinston-C.B. Aycock winner, 6 p.m.
1) Kinston vs. Eastern Wayne-Beddingfield winner, 7:30 p.m.

At Southern Wayne High School
2) Eastern Wayne vs. Southern Wayne-Hunt winner, 6 p.m.
2) Southern Wayne vs. Hunt-C.B. Aycock winner, 7:30 p.m.


At highest remaining boys seed

Championship, 6 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.

2-A Eastern Plains Conference
First round

At Goldsboro High School
3) Goldsboro vs. 6) Greene Central, 6 p.m.
3) Goldsboro vs. 6) Tarboro, 7:30 p.m.

At North Lenoir High School
4) North Pitt vs. 5) Farmville Central, 6 p.m.
4) North Lenoir vs. 5) Greene Central, 7:30 p.m.


At Farmville Central High School
1) Tarboro vs. North Pitt-Farmville Central winner, 6 p.m.
1) Farmville Central vs. Greene Central-North Lenoir winner, 7:30 p.m.

At North Pitt High School
2) North Lenoir vs. Goldsboro-Greene Central winner, 6 p.m.
2) North Pitt vs. Tarboro-Goldsboro winner, 7:30 p.m.


At highest remaining boys seed

Championship, 6 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bulldogs inch up to No. 8 in regional rankings

Despite losing at Pfeiffer last week, the Barton College men's basketball team moved up a notch in the NCAA Division II East Region rankings to No. 8, released Wednesday.

Eight is a magic number because there will be eight teams invited to the East Regional — the three conference champions (Carolinas Conference, Pennsylvania State Athletic Association and West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and five at-large teams. The Div. II defending champion Bulldogs still have a chance to win the Conference Carolinas' top seed but more likely will hope to be an at-large entry.

Their chance to host the regional for the third straight year is pretty slim but I think a winning streak through the conference tournament could do it.

NCAA Division II men's basketball regional rankings

Dewald just wouldn't quit

Sometimes there's a story behind the sports that isn't evident in the statistics. Such was the case at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A state indoor track and field championship meet in Chapel Hill.

The results for athletes in The Wilson Daily Times readership area were posted in Tuesday's edition of the WDT and noted that Hunt senior Jonas Dewald finished 11th in the boys 1,000-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 43.98 seconds.

Since there was no reporter on hand from the WDT in Eddie Smith Field House to cover the meet, the real story with Dewald wasn't reported. I'd like to share it now in this space.

Dewald, a mainstay on the Hunt soccer team for the past three years, was a part of the Warriors' 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference track championship squad last spring. He qualified for the NCHSAA 3-A outdoor meet, one of just two Warriors to do so. He began the winter indoor season hoping for a state championship in the 1,000.

As the year progressed, Dewald had to deal with painful shin splints but still posted the fourth-best time in the state in the event during the season.

In Saturday's 1,000, Dewald was in the lead in the third of four laps before stepping on the curb and twisting his right ankle — not once, but twice — doing it again on the final lap. He managed a wobby finish well out of the running for any points and his dream of a state title.

But the worst was to come for Dewald as a trip to the doctor revealed that his "shin splints" was actually a stress fracture of his right tibia that was expanded during the race. Now it's four weeks of rest before Dewald can hit the track and the soccer field this spring.

Thanks to Jonas' dad, Dr. Jon Dewald, for sharing his story. Hopefully, Jonas will heal quickly and get one more chance to compete for a state championship.

He deserves it.

Hunt's Jonas Dewald is in the lead after two laps of the 1,000-meter run in Saturday's NCHSAA 3-A championship meet

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First high school baseball rankings released

And here we go with the first high school baseball polls, as provided by the Web site IMPACTbaseball.com.

In what I feel is a bit of a surprise, Rocky Mount is listed atop the 3-A rankings. Northern Nash is ranked No. 6 but Fike is nowhere to be seen. I know that the Gryphons have some good players in Brian Goodwin and Ben Fish, to name a couple, but they lost some quality seniors. To be considered No. 1 in the state seems to be a stretch right now, given how they completely fell apart at the end of last year.

Southeast Guilford, which lost to Charles B. Aycock in the 3-A final in June is No. 2 while Jamestown Ragsdale is No. 3

The top-ranked teams in the other classifications are 4-A North Davidson, 2-A First Flight and 1-A Princeton. The Bulldogs are the defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A champions and coached by Beddingfield graduate and Saratoga native Bruce Proctor.

For the three Wilson County high schools, Beddingfield opens first when the Bruins welcome SouthWest Edgecombe on Monday, Feb. 26, for a 4:30 p.m. encounter. Fike visits Aycock on Tuesday, Feb. 26, also at 4:30 p.m. while Hunt launches its season at Nash Central on Friday, Feb. 29, at 4:30 p.m.

IMPACT Baseball high school preseason polls

Lady Bruins keep rolling

It's poll time again and the Beddingfield varsity girls basketball team still sits atop the NCPreps.com 3-A rankings.

The Lady Bruins are 22-0 with regular-season games remaining against Kinston tonight and at Hunt on Thursday evening. Realistically, Beddingfield should finish 24-0 as it heads into next week's 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference Tournament. Before the Hunt (and Kinston) folks get into a snit, I'll just point out the Lady Bruins haven't lost to either team in three seasons and handled both of them pretty well in their earlier meetings this season.

Thus, Beddingfield is looking at probable third meetings with Southern Wayne in the ECC semifinals and Eastern Wayne in the ECC final. Either of those Wayne teams could trip up the Lady Bruins but they seem to be headed for the top seed out of the ECC.

I don't know where the Lady Bruins' season will end but if Jean Best gets healthy, Monique Spry gets well and they get some breaks, it might end in Chapel Hill, just like the 2006 season did.

NCPreps.com high school girls basketball poll for Feb. 12

NCPreps.com high school boys basketball poll for Feb. 12

NCPreps.com high school girls basketball statistics for Feb. 9

NCPreps.com high school girls basketball statistics for Feb. 9

Saturday, February 9, 2008

North Johnston gets its realignment wish

It looks like North Johnston will get its wish but Hertford County and Goldsboro will not as the N.C. High School Athletic Association prepares for realignment.

In the first stab at realignment in November, the NCHSAA moved North Johnston from the 1-A Carolina Conference to the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference. Officials at North Johnston realized there was little they could do about the growing school's move to the 2-A ranks but preferred to join the league with Bunn, Louisburg, Warren County, Franklinton, Northwest Halifax and Roanoke Rapids.

This week the NCHSAA released its next round of proposals, which will stay in place while schools appeal the decision. The final conferences will be announced in March but there will be an April 1 deadline for appeals based on procedural errors. In May, the NCHSAA Board of Directors will convene to consider those appeals and make the final decision.

North Johnston was switched to the 2-A Conference No. 4 (yet to be named) with Bunn, Louisburg, Warren County, Franklinton, Northwest Halifax and Roanoke Rapids. The 2-A Conference No. 3, which looks very much like the Eastern Plains Conference, has existing EPC members Farmville Central, Greene Central, North Pitt and Tarboro along with former EPC affiliate SouthWest Edgecombe, which will move back to the 2-A ranks out of the 3-A NEW 6. Finally, 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference refugees Beddingfield and Kinston will complete the new seven-team EPC.

It really was six of one and half dozen of the other for North Johnston. It would be the seventh member of either conference (seven is an odd number for conference membership) and the travel distance probably is a wash, too. Maybe it came down to North Johnston not being eager ton make the move to 2-A by joining a conference with recent 3-A schools like Beddingfield and SouthWest.

Goldsboro is out of the EPC, along with North Lenoir. Goldsboro protested its move to the 1-A ranks, taking North Johnston's place in the 1-A Carolina Conference, but it seems the NCHSAA isn't buying the notion that Goldsboro, once a mighty 4-A school, will increase its enrollment.

North Lenoir is headed to a new 3-A conference that will include former ECC members Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne along with Triton and South Johnston.

But what about Hertford County?

Hertford County's wishes to join what was basically the NEW 6, minus SouthWest Edgecombe, was rebuffed by the NCHSAA. Instead, Hertford County and Currituck County will remain with four other 2-A schools in the northeastern corner of the state in a mixed conference.

That completely makes sense given the high price of gas these days. Now Fike and Hunt will join Southern Nash, Northern Nash, Rocky Mount and Nash Central in the old NEW 6, which will probably need a new name like the Newer 6?

As far as I'm concerned, I would prefer to have all eight high schools in The Wilson Daily Times readership area — Fike, Hunt, Beddingfield, Southern Nash, SouthWest Edgecombe, Charles B. Aycock, North Johnston and Greene Central — in one conference. Now it looks like we'll be split up into four conferences with CBA and North Johnston off by themselves.

But the good news is that Fike and Hunt will be reunited with some nearby natural rivals like Southern Nash and Rocky Mount. And Beddingfield will join old friends Greene Central and SouthWest Edgecombe in the EPC.

Unless, of course, the NCHSAA changes its mind again — which it has been known to do.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The polls still have Lady Bruins in front

It's poll time again and the Beddingfield girls refuse to budge from the No. 1 spot in the NCPreps.com 3-A girls rankings. Beddingfield is 21-0 and headed for a major showdown with Eastern Wayne tonight on the Lady Bruins' floor.

I don't know why Eastern Wayne hasn't found its way into the rankings because the Lady Warriors are probably as good as any team in the east without "Beddingfield" on its jerseys. An upset tonight would certainly propel Eastern Wayne into the rankings. More importantly, it might mean a No. 1 seed.

Eastern Wayne senior forward Brittani Billups is listed second in the state in all classifications in scoring (25.4 [per game) and rebounding (14.7).

There are no other boys or girls teams in The Wilson Daily Times readership area listed in the rankings, although the Rocky Mount girls are holding at No. 8.

NCPreps.com girls basketball poll from Feb. 5
NCPreps.com girls statistics from Feb. 4

NCPreps.com boys basketball poll from Feb. 5
NCPreps.com boys statistics from Feb. 4

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bulldogs have to protect leads with arms, gloves — and bats

As was pointed out to me during Barton College's 12-11 loss to Wingate in the Bulldogs' 2008 baseball home opener Tuesday, there are still a lot of games left in the season.

Forty-nine to be exact, which is a comforting thought given the Bulldogs are 0-4.

But the nature of three of those defeats is what is troubling.

Barton entered the season with 26 pitchers which might be too many — or not enough. Bulldogs starters have done a credible job, working 17 1/3 innings while yielding just 11 earned runs. But the bullpen hasn't done its job, giving up 19 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings while blowing three leads, including an 11-2 bulge Tuesday.

That means Barton starters have a respectable 5.71 earned run average by my calculations, even though they are a bit skewed due to the seven-inning games in Saturday's doubleheader loss at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The formula for ERA here is based on nine-inning games so, technically, I'm a little off but close enough.

The relievers' ERA is 16.03 and the team ERA comes in a 8.71. Now, to be fair, the three blown leads haven't all been due to poor pitching as erratic defense has played a role.

Barton head coach Todd Wilkinson pointed to defensive lapses on Tuesday as a culprit in the collapse. One such lapse didn't even involve an error, just a near double play the Bulldogs couldn't convert that preceded a seven-run Wingate outburst in the seventh inning.

Baseball is a game of details and Wilkinson, as sharp a baseball mind as one will find in these parts, is well aware.

"That would have been big and it’s something we do in practice every day," Wilkinson said of the missed chance to turn two. "Evidently, (we had) some bad coaching and we’ve got to coach better to pull it off."

Better coaching might not be the Bulldogs' biggest need right now. Certainly some more efficient relief pitching and defense in latter innings would be a start. However, more offense might also help.

Barton grouped all 11 runs over a three-inning stretch and when Wingate reclaimed the lead, the Bulldogs didn't answer.

"We scored 11 runs but we didn’t score after the fifth inning," noted senior center fielder Travis Holloman. "If we’re going to score (like that), we should pace them out."

Or, as Wilkinson said: "You gotta keep scoring."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hesmer not on U.S. men's roster

William Hesmer will have to wait for his chance to play for his country.

The 26-year-old professional soccer player was not part of the 22-man roster for the U.S. Men's National team's game against Mexico on Wednesday night in Houston.

Hesmer, a Hunt High School and Wake Forest University graduate, recently participated in training camp for the national team. Hesmer, a four-year Major League Soccer veteran, is coming off his first season with the Columbus Crew. He will now head to preseason camp with the Crew and hopefully get another chance to play for the national team.