Conference basketball tournaments kicked off this week, and no team has been more dominant heading into the postseason than Voyager Academy.
Voyager has won 32 straight North Central Atlantic Conference 1A games and 27 straight home games over two seasons. Last week, Voyager (23-4) defeated Roxboro Community 77-31 on Senior Night for their second straight undefeated conference season.
The Vikings began their trek for another tournament championship with a 76-27 blowout Monday night against Woods Charter, which had won a “play-in” game Feb. 12 against East Wake Academy.
The entire NCAC tourney – girls’ and boys’ brackets – moved to River Mills Academy for Wednesday’s semifinals and the finals on Friday.
Voyager improved to 25-4 overall Wednesday with its 84-64 victory over Durham rival Kestrel Heights.
(Despite its 18-6 overall record, Kestrel Heights had the misfortune to be seeded No. 4 in the NCAC after losing a three-way draw with Roxboro Community School and River Mill Academy – all three of which finished 12-4 in NCAC games.)
The No. 1-seeded Vikings will play No. 3-seeded Roxboro Community School (14-12) in a rematch of their season-finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday at River Mill in southern Graham.
Roxboro reached the boys’ final by beating the hosts from No. 2 River Mill (21-7 overall) by a 60-53 score in a mild upset.
The NCAC girls basketball championship features top-seeded Roxboro versus No. 2-seeded Franklin Academy at 6 p.m. Friday at River Mill.
Viking wrestlers draw honors
The men’s basketball doesn’t own the whole show at the Academy.
Voyager’s wrestling team won the regular season title and the conference tournament. Travis Bramigk was named the Tar Roanoke Wrestler of the Year, and Vikings coach Andy Takia was honored with coach of the year.
Other Voyager individual conference champions in their weight class were John Paytner (113 pounds), RJ Whitt (120), Bramigk (126), Kyle Coward (132), Jordan Chwalik (145), Connor Sewitsky (152), Irving Montgomery (160) and Jacari Deal (195).
And in gymnastics, Drew Grantham won the individual 1A state championship crown. Grantham, Tracy Childress and Sydney Grissom also placed third at the state championships.
Durham Academy moves on to playoffs
The Lady Cavaliers (19-8, 7-3) defeated North Raleigh Christian Academy Friday to end the regular season in second place behind undefeated Ravenscroft in the NCISAA.
Teammates’ Liz Roberts and Izzy Strigel lead the conference in scoring at 19.8 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. Durham Academy’s Imani Spencer is tops in rebounding with 8.9 per game.
The Lady Cavaliers began tournament play on Tuesday. The quarterfinals, semifinals and championship will be played at Ravenscroft in Raleigh.
In the boys’ bracket, the Cavaliers (18-9, 5-3) ended the regular season with a loss at North Raleigh Christian. They also finish in second place behind Ravenscroft and began tourney play Tuesday.
New ABL franchise adds opportunity
North Carolina will get its first American Basketball League team this summer in Greensboro. General Manager and coach Corey Simmons will hold a pre-draft evaluation camp Feb. 28 at the Simpkins Sports Pavilion in Greensboro for ages 20 to 35. The camp is open statewide.
“I am trying to create a legacy to give this generation and next generation of players the chance to fulfill their dream to play professional basketball; to give them hope so they can take care of and provide for their families while pursuing their passion,” Simmons said. “There are some semi-pro leagues that are not pushing players to the next level, not getting players signed to play overseas because they operate like a recreation league. The ABL is not like that. If you play here and get better, the opportunities will be there to get exposure and play for leagues overseas and, eventually, in the NBA.”
Participants will showcase their talents before Simmons; William Eddie, the ABL’s director of scouting and placement; and ABL Commissioner and Vice President Eric Newsome. The tryout consists of an IQ test, drills and 3-on-3 games.
Simmons will select players to fill the team’s 2016 roster. The season begins in June with the North Carolina team playing a modified 10-game schedule. Ultimately, the goal is for the new team to advance to compete in the league’s full 16-game schedule in 2017.
“We are trying to identify talent in North Carolina and uphold the playing standards of our league,” Newsome said. “The ABL platform is the ideal opportunity for the overlooked player to showcase his talents and land an overseas contract.”