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KEATOR: Future is bright in Pitt County

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Farmville Central players congratulate junior Justin Wright (5) on winning Most Valuable Player for the 2-A state championship Saturday in Reynolds Coliseum.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Monday, March 18, 2019


Pitt County has firmly placed itself as one of the premier locations in tradition-rich North Carolina for high school basketball. Just take a look at the three teams that competed for state championships Saturday night.

South Central brought in an exciting team with a mix of youth and experience. We may have seen the end of seniors such as Shykeim Phillips and Jahzeer Baker as Falcons, but I have no doubts that they will be playing at the next level very shortly.

And while that pair may be graduating, South Central will return one of the most exciting big men in the state — possibly country — in Day’Ron Sharpe/.

Coach Chris Cherry and his staff helped send out his seniors on top, which understandably was an emotional moment.

A team that fell to the same type of Raleigh-based opponents for two straight seasons proved to everyone — including those who determined the North Carolina High School Athletic Association seedings and had the Falcons third in the 4-A East bracket — that it was not just better, but miles ahead of anyone in the Triangle this season. 

Shift the focus over to the entire community of Farmville, which had four programs finish with undefeated regular seasons. From the middle school up to the varsity girls and boys, no one lost. That is just a feat you won’t find anywhere else.

The girls’ team may have fallen just short in its 2-A final game Saturday, but coach Hollis Harper has a very young roster that is filled with talent. The Jaguars will lose a very talented shooter in outgoing senior Zion Shepard, but they will return two fantastic forwards in Ja’Shyra Carmon and Amiya Joyner, a freshman this year.

Joyner was a blast to watch in her first season. I had plenty of different writers and others who had the chance to watch her give me the same look and say, ‘She’s only a freshman?’

I had the same response every time: ‘Yes, it’s crazy right?’

The rest of that roster will now have a large portion of juniors, bringing another year of experience to a team we should all expect to continue its deep runs for the next several seasons.

Farmville’s boys and coach Larry Williford may have been the most consistent shooting team I’ve ever seen. They too hold a young roster, highlighted by N.C. State commit Terquavion Smith, who looked right a home winning a title at Reynolds Coliseum to end his sophomore season in fitting style.

The boys may not be as young as their female counterparts, but returning Smith, next-year seniors Justin Wright and Samage Teel and rising junior Leonte Moye keeps the core of what Williford created this season intact.

Outside of the trio that competed for state titles, the future also looks bright elsewhere in the county. Moses Tufts had a stellar first year with Ayden-Grifton’s boys, and Kent Gilbert at D.H. Conley looked to fit right in with the Vikings in his midseason arrival.

While North Pitt’s girls didn’t get the chance to fight for another state title, I believe they feel confident in returning star shooter Ashanti Hines.

The J.H. Rose programs struggled this season, but a bright spot was freshman Aaron Murphy averaging nearly 10 points per game (9.5).

I also can’t go without mentioning the lone squad in the Reflector coverage area outside of Pitt County, Greene Central. They will lose a lot of talent to graduation, including Rams’ stalwart Imajae Dodd, but they will return names such as B.J. Corbitt and Kentrell Suggs, guys who are familiar with fellow local legend and coach Blue Edwards’ system and expectations that he implemented in his first season. Their first run under Edwards ended in the 2-A East final against unbeaten Farmville Central. 

I couldn’t have asked for a better first season covering local basketball. Coming in as someone who wasn’t very familiar with the landscape of local hoops, these teams sure opened my eyes to the amount of talent and dedication to the game that lies all around eastern N.C.

Hearing fans chant “252, 252, 252 …” after the Falcons won the 4-A championship was something special. These weren’t all SC fans either, including Farmville fans who arrived to take in the entirety of the day’s events before their squads took the court at night.

Eastern North Carolina is the best. It has the best rivalries, the best coaches, the best players, and as proven Saturday, the best teams.

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


D.H. Conley 14, New Bern 0

Lauren Wiles was the winning pitcher in Conley’s shutout, posting nine strikeouts and allowing four hits in the victory.

Triples were hit by Anna Sawyer (3-for-3) and Carson Fleming. Lexi Phillips went 1-for-1 with a two-run home run.


D.H. Conley 10, New Bern 3

Mitchell Hofler pitched the final 2.1 innings and recorded five strikeouts to complete Conley’s victory in which its pitchers held the Bears to three total hits.

Styler Cross, Noah Link and Shea Ward each posted two hits for DHC.

Ayden Grifton 6

South Lenoir 0

Austin Jones’ complete game shutout at South Lenoir included nine strikeouts by the A-G pitcher.

The Chargers helped Jones with a four-run fifth inning. Jordan Atkinson finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.


North East Carolina Prep 4

Teach totaled 15 RBIs in this rout, including three RBIs by Nick Jones. Ryan Ange was 3-for-4 and Harrison Hardee 4-for-4.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

High Schools

June 24, 2019

Prep teams from all over North Carolina and Virginia took the fields at North Recreation Complex on Saturday with bragging rights on the line during East Carolina football’s annual Beast of the East 7-on-7 tournament.

Representing Pitt County was D.H. Conley, which made its mark especially on…


June 23, 2019

BETHEL — North Pitt head football coach Greg Watford became the fourth coach of the Panthers in as many years prior to the start of the 2018 season, as the program looked for continuity and stability to begin a top-to-bottom rebuild.

Watford also has a personal history with the school, which…


June 19, 2019

FARMVILLE -- It was a time of celebration at Farmville Central on Tuesday night, as team members from this year's Jaguars' 2-A state champion boys' basketball team received their state championship rings.

FC defeated Forest Hills, 86-71, on March 16 to claim its second title in four seasons.



June 17, 2019

Post 39 slugger Caleb Morris' two homeruns, and team high five RBIs, led his team to victory in the final game of the Pitt County American Legion Showcase Sunday night. Post 39 defeated Pleasure Island Post 129, 10-1.

Morris (3-for-3, 2 HR, 2 Rs, 5 RBIs, FC) kicked off a six-run fourth inning with…


June 16, 2019

Saturday night saw another edition of one of the top American Legion battles in Eastern North Carolina, as Post 39 hosted Wayne Post 11 in a conference makeup game. Post 11 walked away victorious, 9-4.

The bats never reached their full potential, as Post 39 earned nine hits on the night, compared…


June 16, 2019

D.H. Conley freshman pitcher Matthew Matthijs walked into high school baseball with plenty of expectations already set. The former Greenville Little League star had all the hype in his first season, and delivered.

He went 9-1 in 14 appearances, striking out 86 batters in 58.1 innings pitched. He…


June 16, 2019

The following players were selected to The Daily Reflector’s All-Area baseball team. 


Matthew Matthijs, D.H. Conley: Pitcher of the Year

Grant Charles Jarman, J.H. Rose: Batter of the Year

Cam Jackson, D.H. Conley: Jackson was a solid performer at the top of the Vikings lineup,…

061619-All Area

June 16, 2019

Grant Charles Jarman wrapped up an outstanding high school athletic career this season. After four years of football and baseball Jarman walks away with one final award, The Daily Reflector’s All-Area Batter of the Year. 

“One thing that will stand out to me is the guys last…


June 16, 2019

It was yet another successful season for the D.H. Conley baseball team, led by longtime coach Jason Mills.

Mills led DHC to a 26-5 overall record, going 11-1 in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. The Vikings season culminated in a trip to the 3-A East Regional Finals, where it lost to…


June 14, 2019

Athletes from three local schools learned if they received the honor of being named to their sports All-Conference list in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference. Take a look at who made the cut. 


11 players received all conference honors, with D.H. Conley leading the way with…

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