Wildcats end high school lax careers in ‘awesome’ fashion

06/07/2014 12:00 AM

02/15/2015 11:26 AM

Regardless of how the game turned out, the N.C. Great 38 all-star lacrosse game was an “awesome” way to wrap up their final year of high school lacrosse, say East Chapel Hill career points leader Ian Levin and East co-captain Daniel Wittekind.

Levin didn’t even get to play in the game, “but I felt fortunate just being able to go. Not a lot of seniors get picked, and everyone there does a great job of making you feel special.”

“I’ve never seen so much talent on the field at one time,” Wittekind said.

Established in 2006, the Great 38 features the best North Carolina high school seniors, chosen by a panel of coaches. The ninth annual game, contested May 31 at Providence Day School in Charlotte, actually featured 48 players and was dominated by western N.C. all-stars. Only 14 players came from east of Greensboro.

The Great 38 was the capstone of superb senior year for the two Wildcats.

Levin set three program records for East Chapel Hill: career points (305), which broke the previous mark of 296 set by Tony Mendes, career assists (157) and points in a season (114).

Levin and fellow co-captain Ellis Llewellyn were named 2014 U.S. Lacrosse All-Americans, and both were joined on the North Carolina All-State and U.S. All-Region teams by Wittekind and Chris Cox.

If there was any downer for the Wildcats, who finished the year with a 16-4 record, it came after Levin broke his right thumb in the opening minutes of a quarterfinal playoff game against Durham Jordan, a team the ‘Cats had beaten twice in the regular season. East ended up losing 10-8.

“Once we stopped the bleeding, without Ian we still couldn’t score like we were used to,” Wittekind said.

His hand still in a cast, Levin was unable to play in the Great 38 game, but he said he was still happy to be there. He ended up being named captain of the Blue Team that won the contest 18-14.

“It was an awesome experience,” Levin said.

Levin will play next season at Hampden-Sydney. Wittekind will head to UNC Wilmington, eschewing lacrosse.

“I got some nice offers, but none of them were a really good fit for me,” Wittekind said.

That made the Great 38 even more special for him, knowing it was his last organized game as a varsity player. And he had few regrets, given how well East did in 2014.

“We weren’t pegged to finish very high, but we had a great year,” Wittekind said. “We weren’t a team of egos; we all played for each other and grew into a real team. We made real friendships. I was blown away by what we became.

“I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Levin echoed Wittekind’s belief that his last high school season was everything he could have asked.

“We had news coaches, a lot of young players. We showed how all our hard work paid off,” Levin said. “We showed how much like brothers we are.”

“All the wins were great, but the lacrosse was just part of it. All the other things were what mattered.”

Matt Berendsen selected to play in National Lacrosse Academy

Matthew Berendsen, a current 8th grader at Saint Thomas More Catholic School in Chapel Hill, has been named as a 2014 Brine National All-Star.

Berendsen, son of Mark and Nora Berendsen, will represent the Carolina Region at the 2014 Brine National Lacrosse Academy and Brine National Lacrosse Classic to be held June 30-July 3 in Boyds, Md.

The Brine National Lacrosse Academy brings the top middle school lacrosse players in the country to one venue where, guided by NCAA lacrosse coaches, they play on regional teams that compete for a national championship.

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