High schools

Notebook: NCHSAA may change automatic playoff spots; Patrick Turner resigns at Harnett Central

tstevens@newsobserver.comFebruary 13, 2013 

Patrick Turner, the football coach at Harnett Central High for the past three years, has resigned to become the head coach at Pedro Menendez High in St. Augustine, Fla.

Turner will begin his new job on Feb. 28.

The move will put Turner closer to his wife’s parents, who live in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We just had our second child, and it will be good to be closer to their grandparents,” Turner said. “They will be five minutes away. That is the reason for the move.”

Turner’s teams posted 7-5, 5-5 and 3-7 seasons. Last year’s team was his youngest.

“I knew we’d take our lumps last year, but we had a lot of young guys who are going to be good football players,” Turner said. “Although we didn’t win as many games as we would have liked, these kids have been a big part of my life.”

Turner succeeded Marc Morris after a 15-1 season in 2009 when the Trojans played for the state 3A championship.

“Patrick came into a really tough situation with tremendous expectations,” said Will Gage, the Central athletic director. “He was extremely dedicated to our kids and worked very hard. He did a really good job for us. It was not an enviable position replacing Marc Morris.”

Gage said the school would try to move quickly in naming a new coach.

Playoff adjustment: The NCHSAA has to change its formula for advancing teams to the playoffs for the 2013-14 school year when a new conference alignment is put in place.

Currently, conferences receive automatic bids in most sports based a “half-plus-one” formula. If a league has six members, then four teams get automatic bids – one half, plus one. An eight-team conference gets five spots.

But the half-plus-one formula next year would give the 4A bracket 65 teams for 64 spots, and the 2A bracket would have 66 automatic bids for 64 spots. 3A and 1A would be fine with 61 and 59 automatic bids, respectively.

Que Tucker, the NCHSAA deputy commissioner, said the NCHSAA is considering dropping the “and one” provision.

“Maybe we wouldn’t drop it in all classes, but just in the ones that were affected,” she said.

Cary wrestlers advance: Tradition-rich Cary was the only area 4A team to escape the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team wrestling championships.

The Imps defeated Wake Forest-Rolesville 36-30 in the first round and Wilmington Laney 36-27 in the second round on Tuesday to advance to Thursday night’s third round against Hope Mills South View at Fayetteville Jack Britt.

If Cary wins, the Imps will immediately wrestle the winner between New Bern and Britt in a state semifinal match.

Corinth Holders will wrestle at Newport Croatan in a 2A third round match. The winner will face the winner between Hampstead Topsail and North Pitt.

In 1A, Rosewood travels to North Rowan for a semifinal match on Thursday.

The state finals are scheduled for Saturday.

Olympic wrestling: The National Federation of State High School Associations issued a statement Wednesday expressing disappointment that wrestling will be dropped from the 2020 Olympic Games.

The group said more than 272,000 boys participate in high school wrestling.

“In certain areas of our nation, one of the hardest tickets to find is to the state high school wrestling tournament,” the group says. “While the sport is healthy and vibrant at the American high school level, it should also remain a part of the world’s most treasured sporting event – the Olympic Games.”

Online: The News & Observer online boys and girls basketball statistics are back and running at http://www.newsobserver.com/high-school-sports. The site was temporarily unavailable as the site was redesigned.

Team and area scoring, rebounding and assist leaders are available along with the box score from most area games played this season.

New boys leader: Clayton, which recently won a Greater Neuse 4A showdown with Garner, is the new top-ranked team in the Metro Raleigh Prep Rankings.

Clayton (21-2) beat the Trojans 67-61 on Feb. 6. Garner (18-3) earlier had stopped the Comets 88-83.

The two schools move to Nos. 1 and 2 following Raleigh Word of God’s 73-57 loss to Fayetteville Trinity Christian on Friday. Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. led Trinity Christian with 13 points, 7 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

Word of God had been No. 1 since it defeated Apex and Oxford Webb in the Holiday Invitational in December.

J. Mike Blake contributed to this story.

Tstevens: 919-829-8910

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