Garner Cleveland: Sports

Watkins earns 500th win

Clayton resident and former South Johnston High School basketball standout Wanda Watkins won her 500th career game as a college basketball coach on Nov. 16 when Campbell University beat Western Carolina.

After helping South Johnston to the state championship, she played at Campbell and was named the team MVP for the 1977-78 season. She was Campbell’s first female scholarship athlete. She was a graduate assistant and then an assistant for a season before being named the Camels’ head coach in 1981.

She’s led her teams to five conference championships (regular season and tournament combined), an NCAA appearance in 2000 and 21 winning seasons.

“This is an amazing moment for the history of the Lady Camels’ program,” Watkins told after the win. “I am honored to have been given the opportunity to have an impact on all the student-athletes and coaches that have worn the Orange and Black. Campbell is a place that I hold dear to my heart and have been grateful for the opportunity that I was given 33 years ago to lead this program.”

Off of the court, Watkins’ players have achieved a 95 percent graduation rate during her tenure.

Banks plays in Grey Cup: Garner’s Brandon Banks totaled 195 yards in kick returns for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Grey Cup on Nov. 24. The Tiger-Cats fell to Saskatchewan 45-23 in the Canadian Football League’s championship game.

Banks, who played with the Washington Redskins in the NFL and at Kansas State after his days at Garner High, averaged 23.1 yards on seven kickoff returns and returned five punts with a long return of 26 yards.

Former UNC quarterback Darian Durant led the Roughriders to the CFL title, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns.

Perez on All-Metro team: Garner senior midfielder Marco Perez was one of 13 players in the region named to The News & Observer’s all-metro boys soccer team. Perez helped Garner win its second straight Greater Neuse River 4A Conference championship scoring 13 goals and contributing 14 assists.