Garner Cleveland: Sports

The Week Ahead: Eastern Carolina Conference play finishes with a bang

The Week Ahead

Eastern Carolina Conference play finishes with a bang

The current formation of the Eastern Carolina 3A Conference wraps up its four-year run – realignment splits up the league in the fall – with conference tournaments in baseball, softball and girls soccer. Cleveland is the defending girls tournament champion and won this year’s regular-season championship. The championship match is scheduled for Friday.

Opening round games in softball were played Tuesday, and semifinals will be Thursday night; the championship game is set for Monday night.

The baseball tournament, set for Wednesday, Friday and Monday carries the most intrigue, with six teams vying for both playoff positioning and one of the four available playoff spots. C.B. Aycock won the regular-season crown, but South Johnston, which has locked up a playoff spot, should be among the tournament favorites. Cleveland is in line for a fourth place finish and a playoff spot, barring a conference tournament win by Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne or North Lenoir.

Track standouts step up to the line

It’s time to start thinking about the chase for state championships in the track and field ranks. Athletes from Cleveland, South Johnston and Princeton will compete in the regional championships Saturday at West Carteret and Rocky Point Trask, respectively. The top four finishers in each event there makes next weekend’s state championships.

For Greater Neuse River and Northern Carolina conference runners, throwers and jumpers, it’s conference championship week. The GNRC schools, featuring likely state team championship contenders in Knightdale’s boys and Southeast Raleigh’s girls, will hold their meet at Campbell University. The Northern Carolina ranks compete at Franklinton on Wednesday.

Tennis playoffs anyone?

The state dual team playoffs started this week and continue next Tuesday. Regional individual championships will be held Friday and Saturday across the region.

Garner welcomes new Hall of Fame class

Garner High School will hold its annual athletics hall of fame banquet and induction ceremony on Thursday night at the Grand Marqius Ballroom. The 2013 class is made up of former Garner and current NBA basketball standout David West, former football standout and college coach Carl Franks Jr., state championship-winning quarterback and baseball standout Stacey Betts, and former baseball coach Paul Faulk. Tickets to the event are $50 per person and available from Garner athletic director Nelson Smith at 919-662-2415.

Last week of the regular season

Regular-season play in the Carolina 1A and Northern Carolina 2A wraps up in baseball, softball and girls soccer by the end of the week, while the Greater Neuse River 4A baseball and softball races finish up on Monday. So it’s time for champions to be crowned and playoff fates to be decided.

The state soccer playoffs can begin as early as May 7; the baseball and softball playoffs start on May 10.

Coach speak

Keith Durham

South Johnston baseball coach

“I’ve told people it’s as good a conference as there is in the state. I firmly believe that not because we’re in it, but because of the depth of the teams that are in it.”