The 2018 Carolinas Classic All-Star basketball games are March 24 at Wilmington’s John Hoggard High School and will feature several Observer-area players.
The games annually match the best public school stars in North Carolina against their S.C. counterparts. Private school players are not eligible for the game. A private school all-star game will be held at Providence Day School in Charlotte in early March.
In addition to the basketball games, the players will participate in community service events. Tickets to the game are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Proceeds benefit the New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Betty H. Cameron Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Area boys players selected include Concord Cox Mill star Rechon Black, Independence’s Jamarius Burton, Kings Mountain’s Adrian Delph, Salisbury’s Caleb Mauldin and Unionville Piedmont’s Hunter Tyson.
Area girls include Gastonia Ashbrook’s Trinity Jones and Lareal McGill, Mallard Creek’s Ahlana Smith and Harrisburg Hickory Ridge’s Gabby Smith.
NC Boys Roster: Isaiah Bigelow, Greensboro Smith, 6-6, F; Rechon Black, Cox Mill, 6-8, G/F; Jamarius Burton, Independence, 6-5, G; Adrian Delph, Kings Mountain, 6-3, G; Jayden Gardner, Wake Forest Heritage, 6-7, PF; Dravon Mangum, Roxboro Person, 6-7, F; Caleb Mauldin, Salisbury, 6-8, F; Jarren McAllister, Wake Forest Heritage, 6-3, G; Andy Pack, Northern Guilford, 6-4, G; Hunter Tyson, Unionville Piedmont, 6-8, F
NC Girls Roster: Elissa Cunane, Northern Guilford, 6-6, F; Skyler Curran, West Forsyth, 6-0, F; Trinity Jones, Gastonia Ashbrook, 5-6, G; Tayanna Jones, North Johnston, 6-2, F; Areon Lauren, Jacksonville, 5-11, G/F; Lareal McGill, Gastonia Ashbrook, 6-0, F; Jada McMillian, Southeast Raleigh, 5-7, G; Kassie Robakiewicz, Northern Guilford, 5-6, G; Ahlana Smith, Mallard Creek, 5-9, G; Gabby Smith, Harrisburg Hickory Ridge, 6-0, F
SC Boys Roster: Diamante Brown, AC Flora, 6-7, F; Kevin Williamson, Aiken, 6-4, G; Jermaine Patterson, Bluffton, 5-10, G; Robert Braswell, Blythewood, 6-9, C; Jimmy Nichols, Conway, 6-7, F; Bradley Childers, Gaffney, 6-1, G; Shaq Davis, Summerville, 6-5, G; Isaih Moore, Sumter, 6-10, C; Shelton Brown, West Ashley, 6-3, G; Alex Caldwell, Florence, 6-0, G
SC Girls Roster: Jordan Strange, AC Flora, 5-9, G; Alexis Tomlin, Carolina Forest, 6-0, F; Madison Golden, Dutch Fork, 5-10, G/F; Madisen Smith, Greenville, 5-5, G; Quin Byrd, Simpsonville, 5-5, G; Amari Young, North Augusta, 6-0, C; Cyntheria Sullivan, Strom Thurmond, 5-1, G; Skylar Blackstock, Wando, 5-11, G/F; D’asia Gregg, Wilson, 6-1, F
Concord Cox Mill star Wendell Moore is among 24 players from the class of 2019 invited by USA Basketball to compete in a series of events at this year’s college basketball Final Four
USA Basketball’s “Next Generation Sunday Program” runs March 30-April 1 in San Antonio.
The program is designed to offer a behind the scenes look at the Final Four from a player’s perspective, attend games and play on the Final Four court. Moore was one of three N.C. players invited, joining Arden Christ School guard Jalen Lecque and Fayetteville Trinity Christian’s Joey Baker, a Duke recruit.
The NCAA will provide hotel accommodations and plane tickets for the event.
▪ Grace Academy boys basketball star Jaylen Thompson is polishing off one of the best careers in his school’s history. The 6-3 point guard has scored more than 1,000 points and has more than 1,000 rebounds. He’s the first player at the school to do that. For the season, he’s averaging 19.5 points, 15.4 assists, 5.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
▪ Berry girls star Jordan McLaughlin scored her 1,000th point against Olympic. She had 24 points and six steals in the win. She follows former Berry stars Milan Quinn and Rashika White as career 1,000-point scorers.
▪ Providence Day boys basketball player Isaac Suffren will take a visit to Lafayette (PA) College this weekend. Suffren, a 6-4 senior, is averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season.
▪ West Rowan’s Mauldin had 35 points in a loss to Carson this week. It’s the third time this season, he’s had 35 in a game. His career-high is 43.
▪ The two N.C. McDonald’s boys All-Americans will receive their jerseys in special ceremonies this month. Providence Day’s Devon Dotson will get his Feb. 15 during a special school assembly. Dotson has signed to Kansas. UNC recruit Coby White, a star at Wilson’s Greenfield School, will get his during a pep rally Feb. 21.
The McDonald's All-American game is March 28, 2018 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.
Hopewell has named Jamelle Byrd as its new head football coach.
Byrd was defensive coordinator at West Mecklenburg last year. Byrd is the sixth coach in Hopewell’s school history and the Titans have had six coaches in the past seven seasons. Hopewell was 0-11 last season and has a 21-game losing streak.
Byrd is a 2005 West Mecklenburg graduate and played linebacker at Averett University in Danville, VA. After college, he spent five seasons as an assistant at Hough, where he was promoted to defensive coordinator for his final three seasons. In 2015 and 2016, he was defensive coordinator at Harding. He coached one year at West Mecklenburg in 2017.
▪ Charlotte Christian all-conference junior defensive back Jeremiah Gray committed to Wake Forest. Gray is the son of former Carolina Panther Derwin Gray.
▪ A new National Federation of High School rule will call for players found with missing or improperly worn equipment to be removed from the game for at least one down, unless the improper equipment is directly attributable to a foul by the opponent.
Rule 1-5-5 also states that if the player is wearing otherwise legal equipment in an illegal manner, the participant must also be replaced for one down. If proper and legal equipment has become improperly worn through use during the game, and prompt repair does not delay the ready-for-play signal for more than 25 seconds, the repair can be made without replacing the player for one down.
In a related change (1-5-4), the head coach is responsible for verifying that all players are legally equipped and will not use illegal equipment. The penalty provisions for any use of illegal equipment remain unchanged and result in an unsportsmanlike foul charged to the head coach.
East Gaston sophomore Carter Beck has been selected to play on a U.S. Region 3 developmental team that will play in Lisbon, Portugal from March 5-14.
Beck, who scored 48 goals in his first two seasons, will play on a team made up of the best players in the Carolinas, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.
Charlotte Latin’s boys and girls won the CISAA conference swim championships this week. The boys won for the seventh straight year. The girls won for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.
Latin’s 200 yard freestyle relay of Lindsay Flynn, Matigan Simpson, Jessica Flynn, and Amy Dragelin set a new meet record of 1:40.94. The girls’ 400 yard freestyle relay of Lindsay Flynn, Evelyn Peters, Jessica Flynn, and Amy Dragelin also set a new meet record of 3:40.08, beating the time of 3:41.05 set by last year’s Charlotte Latin relay.
Hawks’ junior Amy Dragelin, and seniors Will Egan and Sam Mahoney each won four events (two individual and two relays).
The Hawks won five of 11 girls events and 9 of the 11 boys events.
Three other meet records were also set:
Sophie Lindner (Covenant Day) – 57.00 in 100 yard butterfly
Kyle Barone (Cannon) – 51.80 in 100 yard butterfly
Sophie Francis (Country Day) – 54.05 in 100 yard freestyle
Charlotte Latin won the CISAA conference tournament this week. Providence Day was second, Cannon School third. Charlotte Christian was fourth and Charlotte Country was fifth.
Jay Edwards Winter Sports Boys’ Athletes of the week
Josh Gilliam, Mallard Creek Wrestling: When Mallard Creek coach Benjamin Barry met Josh Gilliam four years ago, he admits he saw "a soft, 220-pound freshman that had never wrestled before in his life."
Gilliam, himself, says he never imagined that he would excel on the mat.
There were many times in Gilliam’s Mallard Creek wrestling career that both the wrestler and his coach wondered if things would work out.
As a freshman, Gilliam only wrestled in one or two varsity matches and took his lumps, even in the practice room.
As a sophomore, Gilliam improved going around .500 on the season, but then that summer broke his forearm in two different spots in a tournament in Salisbury.
"I remember that night being in the emergency room with Josh’s (Gilliam) family until midnight, wondering if he would ever wrestler again," said Barry, in fifth year as Mallard Creek’s wrestling coach. "…But Josh looked at me that night and said ‘I’ll be back.’
…After he came back, I feel like he was a different wrestler."
Gilliam said he learned to fully appreciate the sport when he had to sit out because of his broken arm.
"It was really hard to just sit there and watch my friends and teammates wrestle when I was out," Gilliam said. "But I missed wrestling a lot and realized how much I loved it. That motivated me to get back and work harder than ever."
Gilliam had a breakout junior season for Mallard Creek, going 41-11 overall in the 170-pound weight class, finishing as 4A West Regional runner-up and qualified for the 4A individual state championships for the first time. He likely would have won the MECKA 4A conference title, but it was canceled because of snow.
Gilliam’s junior year success motivated him to work even harder leading up to his senior year at Mallard Creek, as he wrestled in 70 matches, including competing for a United States’ contingent in at tournament in Australia, where finished as runner-up, according to Coach Barry.
Gilliam’s hard work has paid big dividends in his final year in a Mallard Creek uniform.
The Mallard Creek senior is 45-4 (in his 170-pound weight class, through Feb. 4) this season with multiple tournament victories, including wins at the Elizabeth Berry Memorial tournament (at Mallard Creek), the Union Pines’ Invitational and the Mecklenburg County Championships (at Olympic).
He won his 100th career match on Jan. 3 at Hopewell.
Gilliam finally won the I-Meck 4A conference title championship (170) on Jan. 27.
While the biggest two individual matches of his wrestling career are still to come -- including the 4A West Regional, Feb. 9-10 at Hough and the 4A individual state championships, Feb. 15-17 at Greensboro Coliseum -- Gilliam says his favorite moment of this year was helping his Mallard Creek team get to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Mallard Creek (16-8) beat Porter Ridge to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in school history, where they lost to Lake Norman (both matches, Jan. 30).
"Wrestling has taught me a lot about myself," said Gilliam, who hopes to continue wrestling in college, major in fire science and one day become a firefighter. "It (wrestling) really showed me that I can make myself into something, and if I’m willing to work hard I can accomplish almost anything."
Luis Oropesa, Piedmont Wrestling: The Piedmont senior helped lead the Panthers to their second straight 3A dual state wrestling championship, defeating Orange High in dramatic fashion, 33-31, at the Greensboro Coliseum (Fieldhouse), Feb. 3.
Oropesa (50-7 this season) beat Orange’s Daylen Alston in a 9-6 decision in the heavyweight (285) class to stop a run of 10 straight points for the Panthers (Orange).
Oropesa’s win helped spark a run of seven straight victories for the Piedmont and earned him the 3A state championship’s most valuable player (MVP).
Piedmont also got wins in the state championship match from Bailey Wicker, Nathan Huntley, Angelo Gilvary, Colby Funderburk, Tripp Collins, Mason Fisher and Kylan Thomas, whose win sealed the victory for Coach Jamie Belk and company.
Collins’ win was also special as the Piedmont freshman missed last year when he had to get surgery on his skull. Coach Belk said there was time they thought Collins may never wrestle again.
Keaton Norman, West Lincoln Wrestling: The West Lincoln senior led the Rebels to a 2A state dual championship at the Greensboro Coliseum (Fieldhouse), Feb. 3.
Norman set the tone in the state championship’s opening match, pinning Croatan’s Colton Sullivan (138-pound weight class) in just 21 seconds.
West Lincoln went on to defeat Croatan, 54-16.
Norman, the 2A state championship MVP, is 40-2 this season and 190-24 in his West Lincoln career.
West Lincoln also got wins in the championship match from Nathan Hull, Canon Bridges, Hayden Thomas, Langston Hoffman, Luke Stewart, Ricky Reynolds and Xander Pendergrass.
Ethan Foster, South Mecklenburg Swimming: The South Mecklenburg junior diver led the Sabres’ team to a 4A West Regional title as he was only Sabre to win an individual event, taking the (regional) diving title at Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center, Feb. 2.
Foster’s twin brother, Luke, finished third at 4A West Regional, despite competing with the flu. Luke Foster won the SoMeck7 conference diving title last month.
The South Meck boys’ swim team also got strong performances from freshman, Garrett Boone (100 freestyle runner-up) and seniors, Jacob Rauch (100 breaststroke runner-up) and Valance Washington (third-place in 50 freestyle).
Washington moved to Charlotte when his hometown, San Juan, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Teddy Perelli, Providence Swimming: The Providence senior won 4A West Regional titles in both the 200 individual medley (in meet record 1:52.45) and 100 backstroke (51.04).
Perelli, a Penn State signee, also helped both the Panthers’ 200 medley relay (with teammates Conall Monahan, Mason Harding and Mack Hopkins) and 400 freestyle relay (Harding, Monahan and Thomas Svane-From) to 4A West Regional runner-up finishes.
Jamarius Burton, Independence Basketball: The 6-foot-5, Independence senior guard had another big week on the court and on the recruiting trail.
Burton started his week with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in a critical, 70-65, SW4A conference win at archrival, Butler, Jan. 30.
Burton impressed in the Butler game, as he picked up a scholarship offer from St. Bonaventure just after the contest, according to Independence basketball coach, Preston Davis.
Burton finished his week with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists in limited time in a 78-36 at Garinger as Independence (21-1, 12-0 in the SW4A) clinched at least a share of the league title.
Burton has received offers from Hofstra, UMass and Towson in the last few weeks, with heavy interest from East Tennessee State, George Mason, Georgia Southern and St. Louis, according to Coach Davis.
Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Julia Menkhaus, Charlotte Catholic Swimming: The Charlotte Catholic senior continued her domination in the pool, winning both the 3A West Regional championships in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly (finishing both events in All-American times) to lead her Cougar girls’ team to a regional title in the process.
Menkhaus, a University of Virginia signee, also helped the 400 freestyle relay to a 3A West Regional title with teammates, Victoria Dichak, her sister, Madeline Menkhaus and Olwyn Bartis.
Menkhaus, the reigning Charlotte Observer girls’ swimmer of the year, is looking to three-peat as state champion (won 4A titles 2016, 2017) in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly events at the 3A state championships, Feb. 8 at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
Janie Smith, Myers Park Swimming: The Myers Park junior led the Mustangs to a 4A West Regional championship, winning both the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, Feb. 2.
Smith also helped the 200 medley relay (with teammates Claire Russell, Liza Whitmire and Emma Walker) and the 200 freestyle relay (with Spencer Sheridan, Walker and Whitmire) to 4A West Regional titles.
The Mustangs now turn their attention to competing for a 4A state championship, Feb. 10, at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
Jordan McLaughlin, Berry Basketball: The Berry junior guard had a huge week, averaging 31.5 points per game against the SoMeck7 conference’s top two teams in Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg.
McLaughlin started her week with 32 points and six steals in a nail-biting, double overtime loss to South Meck, Jan. 30.
Three nights later, McLaughlin, had another monster game, scoring 31 points to help Berry knock off Ardrey Kell (then No. 1 in the Observer Sweet 16), 54-52 in overtime.
McLaughlin hit a three-pointer to send the Ardrey Kell game in the extra session, and then hit the game-winning basket with five seconds left to play in overtime to seal the victory.
The win kept Berry in 3rd-place (15-4, 6-3) in the SoMeck7 standings going into the final week of regular season play.
Caroline Coleman, Pine Lake Prep Basketball: The Pine Lake prep senior guard scored 22 points to lead the Pride (15-7, 8-2 in the PAC 7 (1A)) to a 58-53 conference victory at Mountain Island Charter in overtime, Feb. 2.
Down two points with four seconds to play in regulation, Coleman sank two free throws to tie the game at 48.
Coleman, who was 16-for-17 from the free throw line in the game, then helped her team to the win the extra session, helping keep Pine Lake Prep in 2nd-place in the PAC 7 (1A) with one week to play in the regular season.
Coleman is being recruited by Meredith College, according to Pine Lake Prep girls’ basketball coach, Kimberly Gordon.
Riley Felts, Weddington Track: The Weddington junior set a school record, vaulting a personal-best 12-9 to win the event at the Weddington Polar Bear No. 4, Jan. 31. Felts’ vault was the No. 2 in the state and No. 14 in the country so far this winter.
Felts 12-9 vault qualifies her for the championship division at the New Balance Nationals in New York City, March 9-11.
Felts also vaulted 12-1.5 to finish as runner-up at the Camel City Elite Invitational at the JDL Track (Winston-Salem), Feb. 3.
Dahlia Cutler, Cuthbertson Track: The Cavaliers’ junior set a personal and school record in the 300-meter dash, running a 41.24 to win the event at the Charlotte City Championships at Cuthbertson, Feb. 3.
Cutler also anchored both the 4 X 200-meter and 4 X 400-meter relay teams to wins in school-record times at same meet.
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Feb. 4. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at email@example.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.