High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: New Hanover

After games on Sunday, March 11

An upset, comeback and dynasty. That's what we're left with after crowning the state champions this past weekend at the Dean Dome.

In Class 4A, defending champ West Charlotte's bid at a repeat fell short against an undersized but upstart New Hanover squad. Kadeem Allen, who transferred from Laney this year, was huge with 21 points and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that have the Wildcats the lead for good.

In Class 3A, Hickory couldn't hold on to its early lead against Rocky Mount, which surged ahead for the title. The Gryphons were led by double-doubles from Dante Battle (20 points, 16 boards) and Terrill Hilliard (21 points, 11 rebounds).

In Class 2A, Kinston conjured up talk of a dynasty by winning its eighth title overall and third crown in the last five years. Cuthberston nearly pushed the game to overtime, but a last-second 3-pointer missed, giving the Vikings a 58-55 win.

That'll do it for the North Carolina basketball rankings in what was an eventful season. Stay tuned for NICSAA 3A champ Ravenscroft in the ESPNHS NHSI tournament starting March 31 in Maryland.

Here are the final rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. New Hanover (Wilmington) 30-1 (3)
Wildcats knocked off defending 4A champ West Charlotte to win the crown behind game MVP Kadeem Allen's 21 points.

2. Ravenscroft 31-3 (2)
Ravens were selected to play in the ESPNHS NHSI tournament in Maryland on March 28-31.

3. West Charlotte 27-6 (1)
Lions couldn't repeat as 4A champs, falling to New Hanover despite getting 14 points and 21 rebounds from Kennedy Meeks.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

N.C. Week 13 hoops rankings: West Charlotte eyes repeat crown

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
1:31
PM ET
After games on Sunday, March 4.

Six days after his team's season ended abruptly, Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner was still searching for answers. In December, the Trojans had beaten West Charlotte in a close battle. All year, the Trojans boasted the state's most talented squad, featuring the likes of super junior Allerik Freeman and Clemson commit Josh Smith. But on Feb. 28, a one-point lead in the third quarter morphed into a 21-point loss to the same West Charlotte team in the Class 4A regional semifinals.

"We had it close there in the third quarter and then we just committed turnover after turnover after turnover," said Baumgardner, whose team also finished 28-2 and lost in the regional semis last year. "We were never able to recover."

Meanwhile, the defending champ Lions, now ranked No. 48 in the POWERADE FAB 50, look more than recovered from their early-season inconsistency, beating Olympic and then Davie County to earn their 17th straight win and reclaim a spot in the 4A title, this time against a surging New Hanover squad. Coach Baronton Terry called last season's championship run a matter of "peaking at the right time," and it appears 2012 could bring the same.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. West Charlotte 27-5 (2)
The defending champ Lions knocked off Olympic before downing Davie to win their 17th straight game and set up a Class 4A final against New Hanover.

2. Ravenscroft 31-3 (3)
Ravens had their greatest season in school history, winning a record 31 wins and the NCISAA 3A title. Future is bright with super junior Anton Gill returning next year.

3. New Hanover (Wilmington) 29-1 (5)
Thomas Johnson dropped 29 points to lead Wildcats to Class 4A title matchup with top-ranked West Charlotte on Saturday.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

NC Week 10 hoops rankings: Top 10 matchups lead to shuffle

February, 14, 2012
2/14/12
5:16
PM ET
After games on Sunday, Feb. 12

No doubt the conference and state playoffs will bring some memorable matchups and close games, but last week saw several top 10 teams square off in preparation for the postseason.

Ravenscroft showed its mettle by knocking off Christ School, which has won the last five NCISAA 3A crowns. Behind Anton Gill's 34 points, the Ravens won a 83-73 contest to somewhat avenge a title-game loss in 2009 and create optimism for the weeks to come.

High Point Christian and Greensboro Day engaged in another nailbiter, but the result was the same, as High Point Christian came out on top in an 80-77 overtime battle. Jackson Kent nearly dropped a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in victory. On Tuesday, the Cougars get a chance to avenge their lone loss of the year to Wesleyan Christian.

Debuting in this week's state rankings is New Hanover, which has won seven straight, thanks to a solid week by Mike Hickey and Concord's first loss of the season.

Nationally, Olympic moved up to No. 28 in the POWERADE FAB 50 after securing an undefeated regular season and clinching its fourth straight MEGA-7 crown.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 24-0 (1)
Trojans completed the regular season undefeated with wins against Berry and Charlotte Catholic, earning their fourth straight MEGA-7 title. The conference tournament begins this week.

2. High Point Christian 27-1 (4)
Cougars earned an 80-77 overtime against No. 5 Greensboro Day behind Jackson Kent's 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Tuesday brings the chance to avenge their lone loss of the season against Wesleyan Christian.

3. West Charlotte 20-5 (8)
After an inconsistent start, Lions appear to have found their rhythm by winning nine straight and clinching another I-MECK title.

Click here for the full POWERADE FAB 50 weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

Football teams look to punch ticket to state final

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
4:32
PM ET
What's good is Turkey Day without a heavy dose of playoff football? Think of these games as a dessert to the leftovers you eat on Friday because with a trip to the state final on the line, these matchups are bound to be intense.

Mallard Creek at Greensboro Page
Most guessed Butler would be in this game instead of Page, but the fact that the Bulldogs aren't says a lot about this Pirates squad. James Summers leads Page against the state's top team in Mallard Creek, which hasn't been terribly tested in the playoffs until now. The Pirates can't afford to fall behind by 20 like they did last week, as the Mavericks' explosive offense behind RB Jela Duncan and WR Jamel Harbison has been known to make opponents pay for critical mistakes and offensive droughts. With both offenses high-powered, defensive play and turnovers could decide this game.
My pick: Mallard Creek 35, Greensboro Page 34

Jack Britt at Garner
Garner has been dominant all season, winning all but two of their games by at least 20 points. Perennial power Jack Britt has caught fire of late, shutting out four of its last five opponents behind a stout defense. Needless to say, the Trojans offense vs. the Buccaneers defense will be the key matchup in this one, with Jack Britt likely to stack the box often in hopes of slowing running backs Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley.
My pick: Garner 35, Jack Britt 24

Crest at Charlotte Catholic
When these two met in the playoffs last year, Crest had its way in a 31-10 win. Expect this year's to be a bit closer, especially with Charlotte Catholic entering as the favorite. Sophomore RB Elijah Hood has been the surprise catalyst for the Cougars' offense, but Crest has defensive stalwarts in DL Jonathan Bullard and DB Rhaheim Ledbetter. Still, the Chargers have struggled against the run in their three losses this year. The key will be Crest's ability to capitalize on offense if/when it slows down the Cougar offense.
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 28, Crest 24

New Bern at Scotland
On paper, Scotland is the favorite. The Fighting Scots offense can score in a hurry behind QB Kwashaun Quick and a stable of running backs. Defensively, they are just as dominant and haven't allowed two touchdowns in their last six games. New Bern has made it this far by mostly outscoring opponents, although last week the Bears capitalized on three late fumbles by New Hanover. Perhaps the Bears wouldn't mind turning this one into a shootout.
My pick: Scotland 42, New Bern 31

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
For the first time in three years, there will be a new Class 4AA champion.

With two-time defending champ Butler up 20 points in its third-round matchup with Greensboro Page, it appeared most local fans would get what they wanted: a rematch between Butler and Mallard Creek in the next round. But the Bulldogs' dream matchup vanished after a nightmarish second half.

Page capitalized on the Bulldogs' penalties and five turnovers to reel off 34 unanswered points and secure a 40-26 win on Friday. The Pirates, who were led by QB James Summers' 248 total yards and five touchdowns, will face Mallard Creek in this week's 4AA state semifinals.

Summers scored twice on runs to open the second half and tie the game before a one-yard TD pass to Orlando Hatfield gave the Pirates the lead for good with 4:48 to play. Meanwhile, Butler junior QB Riley Ferguson threw three picks in the final 15 minutes to thwart the Bulldogs' chances for a comeback.

Needless to say, Butler dropped out of the latest POWERADE FAB 50, while Mallard Creek moved up to No. 13 in the national rankings.

Garner will take on Jack Britt in the other 4AA semifinal after both teams rode their rushing attacks to victory. Garner was led by tailback Juwan Moye's 285 total yards and three scores in a 42-21 win against previously undefeated Leesville Road. The Pride got 402 total yards from do-everything player Braxton Berrios, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Trojans' quick start.

Meanwhile, Jack Britt ran the ball 60 times for 333 yards to push past Middle Creek, 28-14. After starting 2-2, the Buccaneers have won nine straight, including four straight shutouts prior to last week's third-round win.

A new 4A champion will be crowned as well after top-ranked Scotland knocked off defending champ Hillside. The Fighting Scots' were paced by the three-headed monster of QB Kwashaun Quick and tailbacks Tony McRae and Caison Murphy, who accounted for all seven of the the team's scores in the 35-7 win. Next up will be New Bern, which downed New Hanover, 31-20.

On the other hand, West Rowan has bounced back from a slow start to make sure there won't be a new champion in the 3A ranks. The three-time defending champs have won their last six games by an average of nearly 20 points, but face quite the test in a 13-1 Burns squad that has similar success on the scoreboard of late.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

First round of North Carolina football playoffs get underway

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
4:26
PM ET
Throw all of the regular-season records out because we're starting all over again. The North Carolina football postseason is here and this is when it all counts.

You know all the usual suspects/contenders, like Mallard Creek, Butler, Greensboro Page and Garner, but for the always tricky first round, here are five games to watch out for this weekend:

Berry Academy at Marvin Ridge
This season has taken a slightly different turn than some may have anticipated for these teams. 2011 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Marvin Ridge, but the Mavericks looked plenty strong, going 9-1 with its lone loss coming to No. 7 Porter Ridge. Berry Academy, on the other hand, was far from a disappointment, but with All-State players Germone Hopper and Nick Dawson starring on offense, defense and special teams, the Cardinals probably hoped for better than a 7-3 campaign. But that's what makes this one intriguing. The Mavericks D will have to stop Hopper from making big plays at WR and on special teams, while the Cardinals need to strike early and often.
My pick: Berry Academy 24, Marvin Ridge 21

Hoggard at New Hanover
One week has passed since these two squads last faced each other. New Hanover got the best of Hoggard for the first time since 1995, winning an intense 13-7 battle. New Hanover was led by a stingy defense and two touchdowns by Trevon Brown. Based on its history, Hoggard knows how to topple New Hanover, so it's safe to say neither team is taking the other lightly.
My pick: Hoggard 14, New Hanover 10

Laney at Wakefield
These two teams faced off in the first round last year, with Wakefield coming away with a 31-14 win on the road. This season, Wakefield is the home team and again the favorite behind a high-powered offense that put up at least 42 points in every game but one this season. Laney's defense will be focused on Wakefield QB Connor Mitch, who threw for 46 TDs and just six interceptions this year. But the Buccaneers can also light up the scoreboard (seven games of at least 40 points), meaning this one could be a shootout.
My pick: Wakefield 42, Laney 31

Lumberton at Cary
Only time will tell if Cary caught Lumberton at the right time or the worst time. After starting 7-0, including a big win against Jack Britt, Lumberton enters the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. Led by its defense, Cary won its last four games to finish 8-2. Will Lumberton be motivated enough to end its skid, or will Cary capitalize on the weaknesses exposed in the last three weeks?
My pick: Cary 17, Lumberton 14

Northwest Guilford at Richmond
Last year, these two met in the playoffs and Richmond used a big fourth-quarter to pull away for a 45-21 win. Things probably won't be so easy this time around for the Raiders, though. After a dominating 5-0, the Raiders sputtered at the end, losing twice and barely escaping defeat in two others. The production of Northwest Guilford tailback Reid Baxter (961 yards, 15 TDs) will be vital in attacking a Richmond defense that's been known to bend against capable rushers. RB/DB Steve Houston will be the key on both ends for the Raiders.
My pick: Richmond 27, Northwest Guilford 21

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Middle Creek wins a thriller, Charlotte games on hold

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
2:07
PM ET
Mother Nature has shown its ugly side in the past two weeks. First, it was a rare earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene. And last weekend, torrential thunderstorms pounded down on the Charlotte area, postponing all of the football games until Tuesday.

As a result, our statewide rankings will come out Wednesday this week. But that doesn't mean good football wasn't play in other parts of North Carolina, starting with a thriller between Middle Creek and Fuquay-Varina.

By the look of things, Middle Creek wasn't supposed to win Friday's matchup against Fuquay-Varina. The Mustangs had often finished second to their Tri-Nine Conference rivals on several occasions, and in the fourth quarter of their Friday matchup, Fuquay-Varina held what seemed to be a commanding 34-21 advantage.

But Middle Creek showed why it could a formidable force this season, using a flurry of offense and a goal-line stand to pull out a 48-47 double-overtime win.

Quarterback David Salmon (four touchdowns) oozed with poise in the Mustangs' comeback, leading his team on two scoring drives in the final four minutes -- the last of which ended with a touchdown pass to Curtis Burston that tied the score at 34.

In overtime, fate appeared on the Bengals' side, as the road team used a hook-and-lateral play to convert a fourth down into a touchdown on the opening overtime possession. The teams then traded scores until the second overtime, when Bengals fullback Carlton Bridges was stuffed on a two-point conversion try, giving the Mustangs a huge win in their conference opener.

AROUND THE STATE
*Jack Britt bounced back from a Week 2 loss in a major way, beating Southern Durham, 42-28. The Buccaneers were led by QB Mark McRae (three total touchdowns) and Lindon Watkins (222 rushing yards and one score). Southern Durham put up a fight behind Akeem Judd's 203 rushing yards and three scores, but it wasn't enough to overcome a quick start by the Buccaneers, who jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first half.

*Millbrook continued its recent success, riding its defense to a 26-9 win against East Wake team that upset Wake Forest-Rolesville in week two. Keith Marshall had 157 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats before sitting out for most of the second half.

*Damien Washington continued his tear, scoring twice on a touchdown pass and catch in A.L. Brown's 35-14 win against Rocky River. That's eight touchdowns through three games for the senior tailback, who gives the Wonders an ability to score in a hurry.

*West Rowan saw another win streak end after their Friday contest against Salisbury. But this time, it wasn't the Falcons who were on the short end. Behind Dinkin Miller's 132 rushing yards and touchdown, the Falcons beat the defending 2AA champs, 37-28, snapping the Hornets' 12-game win streak.

*Wallace Rose-Hill saw its 30-game string of wins snapped Friday in a 48-7 loss to New Hanover. The defeat is nothing for the defending 1A champs to hang their head over, though. New Hanover, which was led by 336 passing yards from QB Bates Taylor, is a 4A school.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES