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FINAL HOOPS PREVIEW: Super Saturday

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South Central's Shy'Quan Jones dunks during a game against D.H. Conley on Feb. 14, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The end of the high school basketball season is here, and a trio of Pitt County teams are ready to compete for the title of state champion.

4-A BOYS’ FINAL 

No. 3 South Central (29-1) vs. No. 6 West Charlotte (25-6)

South Central put the state on notice after defeating both No. 2 seed Wakefield and top-seeded Millbrook last week, and the Falcons are confident heading into the championship final. SC, and opponent West Charlotte, are focused on intense defense, rebounding and transition.

Falcons’ coach Chris Cherry said he and his team are prepared for the Lions’ defensive style, which is very similar to Cherry’s own scheme.

“We have the best practice for it because we go against ourselves everyday,” Cherry said.

West Charlotte brings the No. 2 ranked player in the state for the class of 2019 in Florida State signee Patrick Williams. Despite being a wing player, WC coach Jacoby Davis said he plans for the 6-foot-8 Williams to often match up with North Carolina Tar Heel commit and SC 6-10 junior Day’Ron Sharpe. 

“They will definitely see some (of each other),” Davis said. “Patrick is like 6-8, 225 (pounds), so he is very strong and he worked hard in the weight room. He’s a very smart player as well, so he’ll know how to guard him (Sharpe) so to not have his body all up on him, so he can front him and all of those types of things.”

While both teams specialize in running the floor in transition, Davis feels confident in his team’s transition defense, which is a factor he believes allows them to match up well with the athletic Falcons, but he added that transition is not the Lions’ only game plan.

“We can win in different ways,” Davis said. “We can push the pace, but we have also won games by just walking it up the floor. Against North Mecklenburg the final score was like 44-33, but that was just the way we had to go that game.”

A key for the Falcons will be the continued high-level play of guard Jahzeer Baker and combo forward Shy’Quan Jones.

Baker has proven that he can act as the primary ball-handler when point guard Shykeim Phillips is on the bench. Baker has extreme shooting range, along with the quickness to score acrobatic layups at the rim. Like Baker, Jones also possesses a deadly accurate 3-point shot, but prefers to go strong on his drives to the basket. Jones and Phillips will both need to continue to shoot effectively and maintain the integrity of the SC defense for the squad to get into rhythm early.

The Falcons and Lions will get the day started with tip-off scheduled for noon.

PREDICTION: After consecutive seasons of falling just short of the championship final, South Central wins a tight contest against the Lions, ending the careers of senior Phillips, Baker, Jones, Jeremy Lewis and others on a high note.

2-A BOYS’ FINAL

No. 1 Farmville Central (31-0) vs. No. 2 Forest Hills (29-2)

The Jaguars enter as favorites in what may be their toughest opponent this season. Both sides present mirror images of each other in pace of play and offensive style.

FC brings in a size advantage near the rim in forwards Leonte Moye (6-7) and Dyquavis Wilkins (6-6). Defending the lengthy duo will fall on the shoulders of Yellow Jackets forward Jamylan Blakeney (6-7).

“He’s (Blakeney) going to have to match up and play big,” Forest Hills coach Matt Sides said. “He’s been a big defensive presence for us inside with his length. He doesn’t score as much because we have some other guys who can shoot the ball really well, but he can score. Rebounding will be a big factor for us, because they are great on the offensive glass.”

Jaguars’ coach Larry Williford was impressed by defensive intensity by Moye and Wilkins in the regional final against Greene Central.

“I think in the first four minutes, Dyquavis set the tone defensively,” Williford said. “He came out and got to loose ball tie-ups early. I think that showed we were going to do the dirty work in that game. I like the both of them, they are quick and athletic enough to defend multiple positions.”

At the guard spot, the Jaguars will look to lock down the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer, senior Nasione Tyson, along with fellow guards Trey Belin and Jai Rorie. 

Rebounding will be key, with both offenses looking to crash the glass and create easy looks in transition. The winner could very well be determined by the stat line of who gathers more rebounds and creates second-chance points.

FC and Forest Hills will end the day’s events with a 7:30 tip-off.

PREDICTION: Wilkins and Moye lock up the inside and dominate on the boards, while Terquavion Smith, Justin Wright and Semage Teel light it up from beyond the ark to bring Farmville its second boys’ state title in four seasons.

2-A GIRLS’ FINAL

No. 1 Farmville Central (27-0) vs. No. 1 Mountain Heritage (28-0)

In what could be the closest contest of the day, Farmville’s girls’ team will face fellow one-seed Mountain Heritage.

Mountain Heritage has made another deep postseason run after falling to North Wilkes in the West Regional finals in 2018. 

The Jaguars will have a substantial length advantage on the Cougars in forward Je’Shyra Carmon and center Amiya Joyner, both of whom measure at 6-feet tall. The tallest player for Mountain Heritage is 5-11 freshman center Catherine Pate.

“We’ve talked about not being behind the defense,” Cougars’ coach Susie Shelton said about preparing for FC’s length. “We need to get out to where we have passing lanes, stepping to the ball and making the passes before we get in trouble. Talking about it an seeing it is two different things, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a little adjustment period early on. We may have some turnovers due to their length early on, but hopefully we’ll get used to it pretty quick.” 

Jaguars’ coach Hollis Harper said he would let the players decide how the game flows.

“I’ll be honest, when we get out there we’re just going to play,” Harper said. “We’ll figure out what’s going to happen at that time and go with it.”

Allowing the players to determine how to best attack their opponents usually falls on a more experienced roster, but the Jaguars enter with only two seniors, Zion Shepard and Diantynese Williams.

The Cougars’ roster sports five seniors, but Shelton is unsure of how her players will react to the big stage.

“It can (be an advantage), and I hope it does,” Shelton said. “We have not been on a state level with this team, so I’d like to say we’re going to go in there and be calm cool and collected, but we may or may not.”

The Jaguars and Cougars will tip off at 5 p.m.

PREDICTION: Farmville Central makes history as the first school to sweep a classification with two undefeated teams after the Jaguar girls pull away from Mountain Heritage in the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

BASEBALL

North Pitt 10, Bertie 1

The Panthers (8-0) continued their early-season dominance with a rout of Bertie.

Gentry Green (1-for-2, 2 Rs, 2 BBs), Ruban Beltran (2-for-2, 2 Rs, RBI) and Jarad Tripp (2 Rs) were key in the offensive effort.

J.H. Rose 13, Southern Wayne 3, 6 inn.

Rose used an eight-run third inning to win in a mercy rule.

Shane Rademacher pitched five innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. On offense, Michael Allen hit a home run and scored three runs and Ryker Galaska was 2-for-4.

BOYS’ TENNIS

D.H. Conley 7, J.H. Rose 2

DHC improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference on Thursday in defeating cross-town rival J.H. Rose.

Winners in singles for Conley included Sean Jung (No.1), Drew Varnell (2), Jackson Sherill (3) Connor Whitehurst (4) and Lawerence Navarro (6). Doubles wins came from Sherill and Whitehurst, along with Mark Alloway and Navarro.

Elajah Lapay (No. 5 singles) and the pair of Landon Brown and Owen Osborne (No. 1) doubles provided the wins for Rose (1-2, 1-2).

GIRLS’ SOCCER

D.H. Conley 1, New Bern 0

A corner kick from Jenna Rupp to Jenna Lee proved the late winner for Conley in a key match against New Bern.

The unbeaten Vikings (8-0, 3-0 Eastern Carolina) will host J.H. Rose on Tuesday.

SOFTBALL

J.H. Rose 23, North Pitt 7

JHR used an explosion of offense to cruise past North Pitt

Kennedy Harris hit a grand slam for Rose as part of her 2-for-2 outing. Also 2-for-2 were Aniyah Sneed and Morgan Miller.

MIDDLE SCHOOL BASEBALL

Chicod 9, Hope 0

Chicod blanked Hope to improve its season record to 4-1.

Bryan Styron and Drake Holliday led Chicod’s offense.

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