Eastern Wake News

Column: Former Knightdale hoops star Cana Marriot heating up at Virginia State University

Former Knightdale girls basketball standout Cana Marriott is contributing in her first season at Virginia State University.

The 2010 Knightdale graduate played two years at Lenoir Community College in Kinston before transferring to the NCAA Division II program.

The Trojans were 22-1 overall, 12-1 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and ranked No. 13 as of last week.

Playing in 19 of those games, Marriott averaged 16.1 minutes of action and was seventh in scoring with nearly 5 points per game for the Trojans. She was also second on the squad in free throw percentage, at .833.

Marriott has gradually played more minutes and her scoring surged in January and early February.

She posted a season-high 12 points against Lincoln University on Feb. 1. She also scored 11 against Virginia Union on Jan. 18, including a 3-pointer in the final two minutes that gave VSU the lead for good on its way to a 73-65 victory.

Champion starting for Gardner-Webb: Megan Champion, former pitcher and keeper for the Knightdale softball and soccer teams, started at third base in each of the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ first six softball games of the season.

The freshman held a .333 batting average through those games, ending Feb. 16. She was the second most productive player offensively for Gardner-Webb at that point with six hits, five runs scored and three RBIs.

Champion’s best effort came Feb. 8 and helped Gardner-Webb to its first win of the season, a 6-3 triumph over UNC-Charlotte.

She produced three RBIs and a pair of hits, including a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the game away. She scored twice in the win.

Honeycutt to coach in Shrine Bowl: Corinth Holders High School football coach Barry Honeycutt has been named as an assistant coach for the North Carolina team in the 2014 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

Honeycutt has been active in high school coaching since the mid-1980s and was previously a head coach at Triton High School.

“Coach Honeycutt has inspired and motivated numerous young people to greatness over the years, and the selection committee got this one right because there is not another head football coach in the state more deserving of this honor,” said Corinth Holders principal Chase Ferrell. “Some of Coach Honeycutt’s former athletes have followed his path and gone into the coaching and teaching ranks, others have played on Sundays in the NFL, some are city attorneys, some are school administrators, and many more have gone into other honorable professions.”

Honeycutt will be part of a seven-coach staff led by Hal Capps of Mooresville High School. The game is set for Dec. 20 in Spartanburg, S.C.

Blandford to USA Swimming camp: Corinth Holders High School sophomore swimmer Connor Blandford has been invited by USA Swimming to the Southern Zone Select Camp in Louisville, Ky. in May.

Blandford was one of 28 swimmers selected from the regional zone (including North Carolina and 11 other states) based on their performances at the 2013 Summer Southern Zone Swimming Championships in Greenville, S.C.

He finished in the top eight individually in five events at the meet. He was fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke, the 100 backstroke and the 200 IM. Blandford also swam on North Carolina relay teams that finished third in the 400 medley and fourth in the 200 medley relay.

Thibodeau to Southeast: Mike Thibodeau, who was quarterbacks coach and head junior varsity coach at Knightdale High last year, was named Southeast Raleigh High’s football coach last week.

Knightdale beat Southeast 42-14 last season in the varsity game, but Thibodeau was impressed with the Bulldogs’ personnel.

“From a football standpoint, having coached against the Bulldogs twice last season (varsity and junior varsity games), I feel that the future is very bright for the program, and I look forward to helping take it to the next level this season and in the future,” he said.

Thibodeau coached five seasons in Connecticut and was offensive coordinator at Cromwell High, which reached the state title game in 2011 and averaged a state record 501 yards per game.

He favors an aggressive offense and likes the pistol formation, although he plans to adjust the offense to fit the personnel.

Thibodeau succeeds Marvin Burke, who resigned in December after two seasons at the school.

“Southeast Raleigh attracted me for many reasons,” Thibodeau said. “I love that Southeast is a magnet program and offers students many different options as they continue their education and prepare for college.

“I also love that leadership is a main concern so that students strive to excel as members of the community.”

Staff writers Clay Best and Tim Stevens contributed