Notebook: new conference names, Hoops for Hope and more

mblake@newsobserver.comJanuary 30, 2013 

With new N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment starting next fall, some area conferences will change their names or pick new ones.

The current Tri-9 4A Conference will become the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A Conference. The “Tri” prefix has existed since 1989. But the name would be a misnomer given its origins that meant “tri-county.” With Lee County becoming a 3A team next fall, all eight members – Apex, Athens Drive, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Green Hope, Holly Springs, Middle Creek and Panther Creek – will be Wake County schools.

A newly formed Two Rivers 3A Conference will feature Cleveland, Corinth Holders, Smithfield-Selma, South Johnston, Triton and Western Harnett. The Big Eight 3A Conference is a new name for Cardinal Gibbons, Chapel Hill, Cedar Ridge, Northern Vance, Northwood, Orange, Oxford Webb and Southern Durham.

The North Central Athletic 1A Conference will be the name for an eight-team league featuring Triangle-area charter schools.

Hoops for Hope: There are two area Hoops for Hope girls’ basketball games, with proceeds being donated to the Kay Yow Fund for breast cancer research.

Athens Drive will host its sixth annual Hoops for Hope game against Apex at 7 p.m. Friday, where there will be a silent auction and other fundraising events.

Cary will host its game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Fuquay-Varina. More details and how to donate can be found at

Nassif to coach defending champs: Green Hope has hired Joe Nassif – who has assisted with the school’s football and boys’ lacrosse teams in the past – to lead the Falcons’ girls lacrosse team. Green Hope went 20-0 last season en route to the state title.

Cooper to Syracuse: Millbrook wide receiver Corey Cooper announced his commitment to Syracuse last week. Cooper, who had previously verbally committed to Louisville, totaled 461 yards receiving and six touchdowns this past year.

Gray nearing 400th win: Garner boys basketball coach Eddie Gray is nearing the milestone 400 career wins mark. Gray had 398 wins in his 23 years of leading the Trojans’ basketball program entering Tuesday’s game against East Wake. Garner will meet Harnett Central on Wednesday and take on Smithfield-Selma on Friday.

The Garner graduate has led the Trojans to 51 wins in the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons and 98 wins in the past four and a half seasons. The Trojans are in a race with Clayton and Southeast Raleigh for the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference championship. Garner and Clayton will meet again on Feb. 6 in Clayton and will visit Southeast on Feb. 12.

McDonnell going to ECU: Maura McDonnell, the standout Green Hope senior on track for 16 varsity letters – four years of cross country, indoor track, outdoor track and girls’ soccer – has committed to East Carolina for cross country.

Johnston County championships: The second annual Johnston County Individual Wrestling Championships will be held Saturday at West Johnston. The tournament field will feature three teams ranked in the N&O’s Top 15: Corinth Holders, West Johnston and Cleveland. The championship round of matches should begin about 4 p.m.

Stevens returns for Cary: Cary’s girls basketball team, which started the year as 5-13, could play spoiler in the Tri-9 Conference with the return of forward Azura Stevens.

The 6-foot-4 Stevens, ranked as the No. 4 junior post player in the country by ESPN, fractured her leg just before the season but returned last Wednesday and scored 18 points in a 51-40 win against Apex.

Diving combined: Due to the number of entries, the N.C. High School Athletic Association plans to combine the 1A-2A and 3A Eastern Regional Diving competition to be held Friday at Pullen Aquatic Center in Raleigh. Warm-ups for men and women will begin at 8:30 am

Staff writer D. Clay Best contributed.

Blake: 919-460-2606;

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