Longtime Harding boys basketball coach Walter Aikens has resigned, athletics director Bryant Bailey told the Observer.
Aikens coached the Rams for 15 seasons. He also briefly coached the football team. His son, Walt Jr., is a football player with the Miami Dolphins
COVENANT DAY SCHOOL: Alexis Klohr (track, Charleston Southern University); Aislinn McGrory (swimming, Wheaton College); Natalie Shires (women’s soccer, Warren Wilson)
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▪ Covenant Day also named Davis Swann and Klohr as its male and female athletes of the year. Swann is a four-year tennis and basketball player. He was an all-conference and tennis team MVP for two seasons.
Klohr played varsity volleyball and basketball. She led the area in volleyball digs last season and is a two-time all-conference volleyball player. A point guard and team MVP in basketball, she also ran sprints in track and committed to run at Charleston Southern.
CONCORD FIRST ASSEMBLY: All-conference star Stephen Edoka signed with UNC-Asheville. Edoka is a 6-foot-5 senior forward.
NORTH MECKLENBURG: Corban Strothers (basketball, Erskine College)
New basketball coaches named in the area
▪ DeCharles Battle is the new girls basketball coach at Carmel Christian. Paul Swartz is the new girls basketball coach at Indian Trail Sun Valley.
▪ Justin Zaleski is the new boys basketball coach at York High School. Zaleski, who lives in Gastonia, is York's sixth boys' basketball coach in nine years.
Zaleski led Boiling Springs Crest to 23 wins in the 2014-15 season. Crest won 14 total games the past two seasons.
Area boys basketball players named to East-West game
Six area boys basketball players were named to the East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro in July: Concord Cox Mill guard Leaky Black, Carson's Jamarius Hairston, Hickory's Torey James, Lincoln Charter's Kody Shubert and Unionville Piedmont's Hunter Tyson. Morganto Freedom's Casey Rogers will coach the West team.
Jay Edwards' girls athletes of the week
Mary Elliott McCabe, Charlotte Latin Soccer: Charlotte Latin senior Mary Elliott McCabe admits that before a big game she still gets so nervous that “she has trouble eating and sleeping,” prior to kickoff.
But when the anticipation is over and the game begins, McCabe says she has no trouble flipping the switch into game mode.
“When we have a big game, especially Providence Day (Latin's arch rival who the Hawks have played in last two state championship games), I’m so nervous I can’t eat or sleep,” McCabe said. “But once that whistle blows and the game starts, I’m ready to score, ready to pass, ready to hustle all over the field and give 110 percent on every play to get that win. Ever since I was a little girl, I’m being very competitive and I want to win every game that I play in. I will do anything I can to help my team win.”
McCabe came up big again in her final week in a Charlotte Latin uniform as she scored two goals in the Hawks’ 5-0 NCISAA 3A state semifinal victory over North Raleigh Christian May 15.
Then, with everything on the line in the state championship game against Providence Day (May 19), McCabe scored the first two goals of the game to help Charlotte Latin win 3-1, to claim their fourth straight NCISAA 3A state title.
McCabe scored the first goal on a rebound with about four minutes to play in the first half, and then four minutes into the second, she netted a perfect pass from teammate, Ellie Norman.
“Mary Elliott (McCabe) is just a big-time, big-game player, who always has her game face on, who always comes to play,” said Charlotte Latin coach, Lee Horton, who has guided his Charlotte Latin girls’ and boys’ soccer teams to 19 state titles n his 33 seasons. “Scoring (goals) is the hardest of the game, but she has no problem doing it, especially in the big games. When other teams know you have a go-to player (like McCabe) and they still can’t stop it, you know you have a special player. She (McCabe) has been scoring goals with two and three defenders coming at her every time she touches the ball.”
McCabe stepped up her scoring each year of her Hawks’ varsity career with 13 goals as a freshman, 28 scores as a sophomore, 33 goals last year and a single-season record 43 goals as a senior.
McCabe’s 117 career goals shattered the 24-year-old record held by Tiffany Tisdale Rice, who had 101 goals in her Hawks’ career (ending in 1994).
“It’s pretty cool to leave a mark on the Charlotte Latin (girls) soccer team and have my name in the record books,” McCabe said. “…But the best part of breaking the record was getting to meet Tiffany Tisdale Rice when she presented me my 100th career goal ball. She told me to realize that scoring record is a big deal not only for me, but for the entire Charlotte Latin team. I would have never scored even one goal without my teammates.”
McCabe now turns her attention to her future on the soccer field at the University of North Carolina.
McCabe will start her college soccer career later this summer, where she again teams with all-state goalkeeper and Charlotte Latin teammate Claudia Dickey.
“I’m so beyond excited to get started at (North) Carolina, because it’s been my dream to play there since I was a little girl,” McCabe said. “I know I’m going to have to take my game to another level, but I’m ready to get to work. I’m ready for the challenge.”
Maddie Sims/Olivia Masterton, Lake Norman Charter Soccer: The Lake Norman Charter senior duo has been busy keeping their opponents from scoring goals.
Masterton and Sims, both central defenders, are a part of a Knights’ defense that has not allowed a goal in four playoff victories. In fact, the Lake Norman Charter defense has allowed on four shots overall and two shots on goal in the four postseason wins.
The Knights’ defensive backline, which also includes senior Carsyn Yates, junior Delaney Pierce and freshmen Hallie Arko and Kaela Rasenberger, have surrendered only seven goals in 23 games this season.
Lake Norman Charter (22-0-1), which has won 21 straight games, will play in the state finals Saturday.
Megan Frost/Sallie Parkhurst, Myers Park Soccer: The Myers Park junior duo both played key roles as the Mustangs beat West Forsyth and Lake Norman last week.
Frost, a defender, is a key part of a Myers Park defense that has allowed five goals in 22 games, heading into the school's first state final Saturday.
The Myers Park defense has 17 shutouts this season.
Meanwhile, Parkhurst, a midfielder, has been key in orchestrating a Mustang offense that averages five goals per game.
Parkhurst has six goals and 12 assists this season.
Sarah McHale, Cox Mill Soccer: The Cox Mill senior scored three goals to help the Chargers to a 7-2 win over Kings Mountain, May 18.
McHale, a Charlotte 49ers’ signee, helped her Cox Mill team back to the 3A state semifinals for the third straight season. The Chargers have lost to Weddington in the state semifinals each of the last two years.
This year, Cox Mill (19-2-2) has won 18 straight games and plays in the 3A state championship Saturday.
McHale has 25 goals this season and 115 scores in her Cox Mill career.
Mariah Howlett, Lake Norman Charter Track: The Lake Norman Charter senior won 2A state titles in 1600 and 3200-meter runs for the second straight year to help her Knights’ girls’ team to their first outdoor state championship in school history at North Carolina A&T, May 19.
Howlett, an N.C. State signee, ran a personal-best 5:00.67 to win the 1600, 2A state title, while running a 10.57.13 to claim the 3200, state crown.
Coach Craig Zamiara and the Knights also got a state title from the 4 X 100-meter relay team of Chioma Asiegbunam, Jordyn Earl, Kiya Means, Destiny Benson (49.56) and 2A state runner-up finishes from Izzy Evely (1600, 3200) and Ariana Henson (high jump).
Sydney Scott, Charlotte Latin Track: The Charlotte Latin senior had a meet for the ages, winning three different individual state titles at the NCISAA 3A state championships at Ravenscroft, May 19.
Scott won the 200-meter dash (25.08), the long jump (17-8.75) and the triple jump (36-10), while finishing as runner-up in the 100-meter dash (12.19) by .02 seconds to Providence Day’s Olivia Hee (12.17).
Scott will continue her academic and track career at Brown University later this summer.
Caroline Walters, Metrolina Christian Track: The Metrolina Christian senior broke a 20-year-old all-classification NCISAA state record, throwing the discus a personal-best 130-8 to earn the NCISAA 3A state title at Ravenscroft, May 19.
Walters became the first Metrolina Christian track team female to win a state championship.
Walters’ teammate, senior, Noah Davis, won the NCISAA 3A boys’ state title in the discus with a personal-best 147-3.
Davis, who improved his distance 27 feet over the course of this season, also won the discus at the Weddington Invitational, Buccaneer Last Chance Invitational, Union County championships, and Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) championships.
Walters will walk-on the track team at N.C. State, while Davis will walk-on at North Carolina A&T.
Sadie Charles Calame, Charlotte Country Day Lacrosse: The Charlotte Country Day junior midfielder had four goals to lead the Buccaneer girls’ to their sixth straight, NCISAA state title, outlasting Charlotte Latin 11-10, May 19.
Calame also had two goals in the Charlotte Country Day’s 19-8 state semifinal win over Durham Academy, May 15.
Calame had 52 goals this season.
Cori Sprinkle, Hickory Ridge Softball: The Hickory Ridge junior shortstop went 2-for-2 with two home runs at the plate and made several key defensive plays to help the Ragin’ Bulls to an 11-5 win at Providence in the third round of the 4A state playoffs, May 18.
Sprinkle hit .542 with five home runs, nine doubles and 28 RBI this season.
Hickory Ridge’s season (18-6) ended in a 7-0, fourth round loss to Richmond Senior May 19.
Boys’ Athletes of the Week
Drew Elder, Lake Norman Lacrosse: The Lake Norman sophomore was all over the field as he earned the 4A state championship game’s most valuable player honors, winning 20 of 25 face-offs, while adding three goals and 17 groundballs, to help the Wildcats to a 13-11 victory over Middle Creek to win the 4A state title, May 19.
Lake Norman (22-2) scored four goals in a 2:28 span late in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-9 deficit into a 13-10 lead with 1:10 to play.
Elder scored off a Mitchell Cody assist with 2:14 to play to give his team 12-10 lead.
Drew’s older brother, Matt Elder, also played a key role with three goals and four assists in the title game.
Drew Elder finishes the season with 33 goals, eight assists, 259 draw controls (won 79 percent) and 42 groundballs.
Anthony Todaro, Weddington Lacrosse: The Weddington sophomore attacker earned the 1A/2A/3A NCHSAA state championship game’s MVP honors as he poured in eight goals and had three assists to help the Warriors beat East Chapel Hil l20-6 to clinch their second straight state title at Wake Med Soccer Park, May 18.
Todaro, who had 72 goals and 42 assists this season, scored early and often in the state finals, with two goals in the first quarter, three scores in the second quarter, two more in the third quarter, and capped the Warriors’ scoring in the final quarter.
Weddington (19-2) won nine straight games to finish off another championship season.
Will Filiault, Providence Day lacrosse: The Providence Day senior had 12 goals and seven assists in his last three games in a Charger lacrosse uniform to finish off his historic high school career.
Filiault scored six goals and had four assists in Providence Day’s NCISAA Division I quarterfinal win over Greensboro Day, May 12.
Three days later, Filiault had five goals and an assist in the Chargers’ 11-8 win over rival, Charlotte Latin, in state semifinals.
Filiault finished off his Providence Day lacrosse career with a goal and two assists in an 18-8 loss to Christ School in the NCISAA Division I championship game.
Filiault, a Jacksonville University signee, finished his Providence Day career with two major school records as the all-time leader in total points (255) and goals (185).
Filiault had 55 goals and 28 assists for the Chargers (19-5) this season.
Narayan Mohan, Cannon School Golf: The Cannon School freshman shot a two-day, four-under par 140 (68-72) to earn the NCISAA 3A state medalist (state champion) honors as he also helped his Cougar team to their third state title in the last four years at Pinehurst No. 8, May 15.
Mohan beat Forsyth Country Day’s Brandon Einstein, on the second hole of a playoff to secure his individual title.
Cannon School got another balanced effort to claim the NCISAA 3A team title by 22 shots.
Luke Carpenter/Vasilios Kaloudis, Ardrey Kell Baseball: The Ardrey Kell junior duo helped the Knights to back-to-back playoff wins over Providence and West Forsyth last week.
Carpenter tossed a two-hit shutout, striking out five batters in 6.1 innings as the Ardrey Kell won at arch rival Providence in the third round of the 4A state playoffs, May 15.
Meanwhile, Kaloudis came back with two, two-run homers in the Knights’ 10-3 win over West Forsyth, May 19.
Ardrey Kell (26-5) will play for the state championship next week.
Tyler McPeak, North Lincoln Baseball: The North Lincoln senior hit three home runs in two wins last week as the Knights advanced to the 2A West Regional final series (best-of-three games) against Ledford, starting May 22 on the road.
McPeak started his week going 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run, to help North Lincoln to a 9-5, third round (2A state playoffs) win over Mount Pleasant, May 15.
Four days later, McPeak hit two home runs to help the Knights beat Smoky Mountain, 8-6, in the fourth round game.
McPeak, a Campbell University signee, is hitting .407 with eight home runs, nine doubles and 37 RBI this season.
Johnny Bingham, Charlotte Country Day tennis: The Charlotte Country Day sophomore won his seesaw No. 5 singles’ match 6-1, 4-6 (10-6) to clinch the NCISAA 3A state championship, 5-3, over Durham Academy, May 19.
Bingham earlier paired with senior Vaed Khurjekar to win 8-5 at No. 3 doubles in the same match.
Charlotte Country Day also got wins from senior, No. 1 Luke McClelland, sophomore, No. 3, Bennett Turner and freshman, NO. 4 Kaelan van Cleeff.
The Buccaneers (19-1 this season) also avenged their only loss of the season to Durham Academy, which beat Country Day 5-4 on April 13.
Charlotte Country Day won 151 matches, while losing only 14 (individual) this season.
Myers Park Tennis Team: The Myers Park tennis team came up just one with short of another perfect season, losing 5-1 to Enloe in the 4A state championship match at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center in Greensboro, May 19.
The Mustangs (17-1) had won 38 straight matches going into the state finals, after going 21-0 last season en route to a 4A state title.
While Myers Park came up one win short of a repeat championship, Coach Ed Flynn and company had another remarkable season, winning 140 of the 146 matches (individual) they played in team competition this season.
Myers Park also beat Ardrey Kell 6-0 May 14, and Providence 5-0 the next day to advance to the state final.
Myers Park junior Mark Dillionled the way as the Mustangs’ No.1 was 4A state singles’ runner-up this season.
Christopher Alexander, Rocky River Track: The Rocky River junior won the 4A state championship in the triple jump with a personal-best 49-4 at North Carolina A&T, May 19.
Alexander also finished as 4A state runner-up in the long jump with another personal-best 23-7.75 at the same meet.
Alexander was 4A Midwest championship in the long jump and regional runner-up in the triple jump after winning the SW4A conference title in both events.
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through May 20. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.