News-Star: Sports

Championship chases begin this week

Johnston County’s representiatives in the 2014 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas gathered recently to be honored by the school board. It was the first time the game featured more than two players from the county. Pictured from left are Princeton’s Johnny Frasier, Cleveland’s Greg Tyler and Corinth Holders’ Jared Johnson, along with Corinth Holders’ Barry Honeycutt who was a coach for the North Carolina squad.
Johnston County’s representiatives in the 2014 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas gathered recently to be honored by the school board. It was the first time the game featured more than two players from the county. Pictured from left are Princeton’s Johnny Frasier, Cleveland’s Greg Tyler and Corinth Holders’ Jared Johnson, along with Corinth Holders’ Barry Honeycutt who was a coach for the North Carolina squad.

It’s championship season starting this week in high school athletics. The dual team wrestling playoffs will start Tuesday and wrap up by Saturday evening, while the quest for state swimming championships begins with regionals on Friday and Saturday.

The individual wrestling regionals are Feb. 13-14 and the state championships run Feb. 19-22.

The state championships in swimming are Feb. 12 for the 3A ranks and Feb. 14 for the 4A teams. All state swimming finals are at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary.

The indoor state track and field championships will also be held Feb. 13-14 in Winston-Salem at the JDL Fast Track. The 1A/2A finals are Feb. 13 with the 3A and 4A meets both on Feb. 14.

Prep basketball conference tournaments begin Feb. 16 and the state hoops playoffs begin Feb. 23.

JCEI brackets set: The pairings for the 2015 Johnston County Easter Invitational baseball tournament are out. The field includes the same teams from 2014: Clayton, Cleveland, Smithfield-Selma, West Johnston, Triton, Bunn, Harnett Central and host South Johnston.

First-round pairings on Saturday, April 4, are Cleveland vs. Clayton at noon, Triton vs. West at 2:30, a home run derby at 4, followed by Bunn vs. Smithfield-Selma at 5:30 and Harnett Central vs. South Johnston in the nightcap.

Play continues on April 6-7 with the championship game on April 7 at 7:30.

The scheduling cost of success: It was a bit of a surprise when South Johnston advanced to the 3A eastern regional championship series last spring. But don’t think for a second that anybody forgot the Trojans’ exploits when it came time to make out their 2015 schedule.

As happens with many teams who experience success at that level, South coach Keith Durham had a little bit of trouble finding non-conference games for the coming season. In a six-team conference like the Two Rivers with only 10 conference games, that can be a bigger issue with 13 games needed if you want to play a full 23-game slate.

So the 2015 South schedule includes a few different opponents than normal. The Trojans open the season at Wilmington New Hanover on March 3 and visit Myrtle Beach Socastee for a doubleheader on March 14 at the Ripken Baseball Experience complex.

There is a local connection with the Socastee games. The Braves, coming off of a 20-5 season, are coached by former South Johnston baseball coach Curtis Hudson. He was a Trojan coach when Durham — as well as current Cleveland High head coach Jamie Lee — played at South.

South Johnston’s schedule still includes meetings with non-conference foes Clayton, West Johnston and North Johnston in addition to conference foes Cleveland, Smithfield-Selma and Corinth Holders.

No more jayvee girls for Cleveland: Cleveland High School has disbanded its junior varsity girls team due to a lack of players. Game times will not change much for Cleveland games: junior varsity boys at 5; varsity girls at 6:30 and varsity boys at 8.

Old Timers’ Baseball Meeting: The annual Johnston County Old Timers’ Baseball Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2, at Stephenson’s BBQ. Featured speakers will be Todd Johnson of the Johnston County Heritage Center and Monty McLamb of the Miracle League of Johnston County. The group will also award a college scholarship to a West Johnston High School player. Tickets, including the meal, are $15 each. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

For more info, contact Spot Coats at 919-772-4669 or Dale Coats at 919-407-0988.

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