New Middle Creek athletics director Jeremy Thompson’s first hire was his replacement as baseball coach, and he looked to the mountains of North Carolina to find it.
Wesley King comes from North Buncombe High School near Asheville. North Buncombe was 22-4 this past season, and King went 76-36 in his four seasons. Middle Creek was N.C. High School Athletic Association 2012 4A state champion under Thompson.
“A lot of my buddies said ‘I’d hate to be the guy coming in to interview with a state championship coach for his job,’ ” said Thompson.
Thompson was named the school’s new athletics director during the 2013 season, which would be his last as a coach.
North Buncombe plays in a 4A/3A split conference, and King’s team was the best 3A team in the league in each of the past three seasons.
“Even though he’s young, he has head coaching experience and success at the highest level,” Thompson said. “Everybody we talked to said what a great person he is and how hard he works.”
Akeem Judd commits: Former Southern Durham running back Akeem Judd committed to Ole Miss this past week. Judd, who is at Georgia Military College, is a 3-star recruit and ranked the No. 2 JUCO running back in the country by Rivals.com.
Judd ran for 1,324 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior year with the Spartans in 2011.
McCain to Pack: Hillside rising senior safety Kalen McCain switched his commitment from Virginia Tech to N.C. State last week. Hillside teammates Trevion Thompson, a wide receiver, and running back Donte Thomas-Williams give the Hornets three players listed among the top 35 players in the state according to Rivals.com.
Leesville Road athlete Braxton Berrios and Ravenscroft tight end Avery Edwards are also in the top 35 as is Bunn kicker Freeman Jones, who has committed to North Carolina.
Fuquay pitchers: Two rising Fuquay-Varina senior pitchers will be rivals following next season. Brett Daniels has committed to North Carolina and Jordan Bissette committed to N.C. State. Recently-graduated Garrett Suggs also pitched for the 4A runners-up and will play at N.C. State next season.
Conference Cup: Millbrook, Green Hope, Clayton, Jordan, Chapel Hill, Triton, Corinth Holders, Carrboro and Jordan-Matthews were among the area Wells Fargo Conference Cup winners.
The Conference Cup recognizes schools with the best overall interscholastic athletic performances within individual conferences. Each conference determines its own method of awarding points.
New conferences will be formed next fall, as it is a realignment year. Those conferences will be set for the next four years.
Princeton was third in the Conference Cup standings for the Carolina 1A, while Chatham Central eighth in the Yadkin Valley 1A and Southern Lee third in the Cape Fear Valley 3A.
NCHSAA record: Granville Central’s Omar Rincon stole 48 bases this season, second-most in NCHSAA history for a single season. He stole eight bases in games against Louisburg and Durham School of the Arts, one behind the record.
Buckley in at Gibbbons: Cardinal Gibbons has named Alex Buckley as the new varsity boys’ lacrosse coach. Buckley will be a social studies teacher at Gibbons and was most recently a civil trial attorney in New Jersey.
Buckley replaces Mike Curatolo, who resigned as varsity men’s lacrosse coach to spend more time with his family. Curatolo amassed a 231-99 overall record in 17 years at the helm of the Cardinal Gibbons varsity lacrosse program, going to the playoffs in each season and making five trips to the state title game.
Cardinal Gibbons won the state title in 2006.
Rex Hospital Open spot up for grabs: Golfers from across the state, including nearly two dozen from the Triangle, will vie for a spot in the field of the Web.com Tour’s Rex Hospital Open which begins Thursday at TPC at Wakefield Plantation in Sunday’s Rex Hopsital Open Junior Invitational .
The field includes two-time NCHSAA 4A state champion Ben Griffin, 2012 state 4A champion Stephen Saleeby and Leesville Road standout and UNC Greensboro recruit Carter Jenkins, who won the event in 2011.
Raleigh native and UNC-Greensboro golfer Grayson Murray, another former NCHSAA champion, was a two-time Rex Hospital Open Junior Invitational champion. Murray played in the U.S. Open last week.
Knightdale’s coaches: Knightdale High was busy last week, hiring six new coaches.
The varsity hires are Anthony Byrd for boys’ basketball, Trent Bunn for girls’ basketball, Lauren Watkins for cheerleading, Mark Batey for cross country, Morgan Barbour for softball and Anna Gay for volleyball.
Barbour is the daughter of Garner coach Moe Barbour.
Byrd played at Apex High and Georgia Tech and was most recently the Knightdale girls’ basketball coach and interim track and field coach.
“He’s been where kids want to be,” Knightdale athletics directory Guy Blough said of Byrd. “This will be a change in style – nothing negative on (former coach) Battle (Watkins) – that might be good for us.”
Woods to Francis Marion: Lauren Woods of Raleigh has joined the Francis Marion University basketball team, transferring in from Anderson University. The 5-foot-8 guard played at Middle Creek before ending her high school career with the Lighthouse Home School team based out of Wake Forest, averaging 16 points a game as a senior when the Eagles posted a perfect 22-0 mark.
Woods shot 30 percent from 3-point range last season for Anderson and played in all 27 games the Ravens played.
Staff Writers Aaron Moody and D. Clay Best contributed.