Manis Named Coach of Year in WHC

Clarke Named Player of Year, Eppley and Hughes garner All-Conference Honors

In a season where many didn’t give the Avery Viking Basketball team much of a chance to compete, the Viking Coaching staff and players had a chip on their shoulders to prove to critics that they were a more seasoned club than the one that took the floor last season.

Avery’s boys were 3-21 in a forgettable season during the 2008-2009 season.  They were more than ready when the season tipped off at Cloudland, and it only got better from there.  Avery opened play with a two point victory at Cloudland before losing five straight.  They then blew out West Wilkes at home to head into Conference play with a 2-5 record.

Due to weather the Vikings found themselves in a struggle against Polk to open conference play, thanks to a three week layoff that took a toil on their stamina.  That changed quickly as the Vikings started to roll through conference foes and as the season closed the Vikings had a 10-11 record, and were 8-6 against conference teams and finished third in conference and were second among 1A schools.

The dramatic turn around for the Vikings earned Coach Bo Manis recognition from the other coaches in the conference, who voted Manis the Coach of the Year in the Western Highlands Conference.

“Its an honor,” stated Coach Manis.  “When your peers think enough of you to select you as the Coach of the Year, it humbles you a little.  I didn’t expect it, especially with a coach who went undefeated in Conference play, which is hard to do in our conference.”

Manis just completed his second year at the helm of the Vikings and led the Vikings to the NCHSAA Playoffs for the first time since 2006.

“The players deserve recognition as well,” continued Manis.  “They played hard and I wouldn’t be anything without them.”

The players received recognition as well, with Dustin Clarke picking up the WHC Player of the Year award, beating out favorite John Cannon of Mountain Heritage.

“Dustin has worked hard since the end of last season,” explained Manis.  “I am happy for him, to see his work paying off and being recognized.”

Clarke averaged just over 23 points per game, adding six rebounds, five assists and three steals per game to lead the Vikings in all statistical categories.

Joining the junior guard as All-Conference honorees for the Vikings were Senior Forward Dylan Eppley and Junior Guard Kody Hughes.

Eppley joined the Viking squad this season, transferring over from Watauga and making an immediate impact on the Viking frontline.  Eppley averaged just over 10 ppg while adding close to six boards.  He became an integral part of the Viking offense late in the season, becoming the go-to-guy under the basket, lightening the load on Clarke and becoming a threat to many teams with his tough play and rebounding.

Hughes played well from the three guard position, adding key rebounding, as well as a second threat from beyond the arc for the Vikings this season.  The junior amassed close to 9 ppg while adding 4 rebounds.  He aided defensively for the Vikings with great defensive pressure that led to a number of opponent turnovers.

Congratulations to Manis and the Vikings on a great season!

From the Dugout: Cranberry Wildcat Baseball 2010

We finally got to take a field…

That is the only way I can describe our first game.

It is hard as a coach to prepare your team for the ins and outs of a baseball game without actually getting to take the field and prepare with dirt under your feet.  That is what I would say is the hardest part of coaching a middle school baseball team.

Due to the snow we as a team have not been able to practice outside at all; weather postponed our first two contests, and coming into this week, we were unable to take the field for any practice.

We headed to Cane River on Monday evening for our first contest of the year, facing off with what has been the best team in the conference over the past few years.  Kaleb McCurry took the mound for the Rebels, and I feel is likely the fastest and most well rounded pitcher in the conference; which posed a tough task for the Wildcats.  We had barely been able to take a decent batting practice of live pitching this season.

Another issue that faced us entering the contest was the inability of our pitchers to actually take the mound and get some experience.

I was very proud of the way the team played considering the circumstances.  For a team that had not seen dirt this season, they did a great job of containing their emotions and handling the contest.

I was particularly proud of the way that Hunter Guinn, Cainan Singleton and Sam Atcheson-Adams pitched despite a tight strike zone, having to make adjustments in the heat of the contest.

I thought from top to bottom the lineup did a great job of adjusting to the pitching, being the first time we had seen live pitching on the year; I was pleased with adjustments that were made at the plate, and the different approach that I saw each hitter take from one at bat to the next.

All-in-all, I thought the guys played great!  As a coach, I saw a number of things to work on during practices, and a lot of things that I still need to go over with the team to help them adjust to the difference in speed and distance in the middle school game, compared to the game they are used to coming out of little league.

It looks to be a good season, and win or lose, I’m proud of the effort that I have seen each day from a group of boys who are dealing with the changes that come with Middle School baseball; but also a group of guys who are dedicated to playing their best.  Go CATS!!

NCHSAA Western Regional Final: Mitchell vs. Bishop

FINAL – Western Regional Final

Bishop McGuinness  68
Mitchell 48

Buckland (BMHS) – 27 points to lead all scorers; Jensen (MIT)- 17 points

5:26 PM – Game over, Lady Mountaineers fall 68-48 in Regional Final.  With time winding down, Mitchell Head Coach Dawn Lowe removes her seniors.  Crowd stands to applaud Norris as she leaves the floor, wrapping up a great season and great career for her.

5:21 PM – Bishop McGuinness 63, Mitchell 47 with time winding down.  Athleticism of the Lady Villains has practically shut the Lady Mountaineers down.  For Mitchell:  Jensen 17, Glenn 12 and Norris 10 right now in the contest.

5:15 PM – Much like last night, Bishop McGuinness has gone to a slowed down, keep away type of offense.  It has been one of the best performances of the season for the Lady Villains.

5:14 PM – Looking bleak for the Lady Mountaineers.  Unable to get much going offensively – 2:47 remaining – 56-43 BMHS.

5:11 PM – Buckland now has 21 points to lead all scorers, and defensively has taken Norris out of the contest, holding her to just 10 points on the afternoon.  McGuinness now has a 15 point, 56-41 lead.

5:08 PM – Lakin Norris has 10 now, trying to spark a Lady Mountaineer comeback.  5 min remain in contest.  51-41 lead for the Villains.

5:03 PM – Buckland putting on an offensive and defensive clinic through three quarters.  BMHS holds a 51-39 lead as time runs out on the third period.

5:00 PM – Lyndsay Jensen keeping the Lady Mountaineers in the contest, but McGuinness answering every Mitchell basket with one of their own.  Jensen has 17 points to lead the Lady Mountaineers.  1:00 remaining in the third quarter, BMHS has 48-39 lead.

4:56 PM – Norris grabs a steal and drives to the basket; called for an offensive foul to pick up her 2nd of the contest.  42-34 BMHS.

4:52 PM – Jensen nails a jumper to cut the lead to 39-32.  Bishop calls time-out to talk it over.

4;50 PM – Ashley Greene with a steal to spark an Autumn Thompson basket.  Danica Huskins draws a foul on the other end to get the ball back, and Mitchell has cut the lead to 39-30.

4:47 PM – Emily Glenn with a great shot to cut the lead to 10 to open second half.  Mitchell comes out in a box and one set on Megan Buckland.

Game of runs – BMHS 15-2 to open contest.  Mitchell 17-4 to tie contest at 19-19.  BMHS 15-3 to close first half.

4:38 PM – Halftime in Greensboro.  Bishop McGuinness 34-22 lead over Mitchell.  Buckland has 15 at the half, Goldsmith as 13 in a tough physical battle.  Norris with a tough first half, only has six; Lyndsay Jensen has 10 to lead the Lady Mountianeers.

4:35 PM – Physical game proving to be difficult for the Lady Mountaineers, the 1-2 shot of Buckland and Goldsmith are absolutely dominating the Mitchell Ladies.  McGuinness holds a 34-19 lead.  Another 15-0 run for the Lady Villains.

4:30 PM – Mitchell time out as Buckland nails another 3 point basket to make it 30-19.  11-0 run for the Lady Villains, all 11 scored by Buckland, she has 15.  3:30 to go in the second quarter.

4:28 PM – After Mitchell’s 17-4 run to tie the contest at 19-19, McGuinness has pushed the lead back out to 27-19 with another 8-0 run.  Megan Buckland has 12 points so far for the Lady Villains.

4:25 PM – 6-0 run to open the second quarter for Mitchell and they have cut the lead to 19-18.  McGuinness takes a time out.

4:20 PM – End of the 1st quarter Bishop McGuinness up 19-12.  McGuinness opened up a 15-2 run to open the contest, but a great run from the Lady Mountaineers close the contest to seven after one.

Mitchell Lady Mountaineers taking on the Bishop McGuinness Lady Villains in the NCHSAA Western Regional Final.

LIVE at NCHSAA Western Regional

Final – Semifinal #2

Bishop McGuinness  57
Avery                                   42

Megan Buckland (BMHS): 24 pts 10 reb   L. Avery (AVE): 14 pts  S. Wiseman (AVE): 11 pts

9:57 PM – Final – Bishop McGuinness 57 Avery 42…Avery goes cold from the field during second half and season ends, but Congratulations to all the Lady Vikings on a great season and a great run.   GO VIKES!

9:40 PM – BMHS 42, Avery 30 after three.  Lady Vikings went cold in the quarter while the Lady Villains have rallied to take a 12 point lead with eight minutes to play.

9:35 PM – Under 2 min to play in the third quarter, Bishop McGuinness spurts out to a 13 point, 38-25 lead with a 15-5 run to open the half.

9:15 PM – Bishop McGuinness 25, Avery 20 at the Half.  Been a great half of basketball, but the Lady Vikings struggling right now from the field and from the line.  Turnovers: BMHS 7  Avery 10 (Points off: BMHS 9 ACHS 2)

9:05 PM – Looks like the early jitters are starting to subside…Avery doing a great job in the 2nd quarter of dominating the boards and blocking shots to go on a 4-0 run to cut it to 13-12.  BMHS Timeout.

9:00 PM – Bishop McGuinness 9, Avery 8 at the end of the 1st quarter

8:51 PM – Fast paced game so far, but the Lady Vikings not hitting Lay-ups well at this point.  BMHS leads 7-4 with Lauren Avery going to the line.

8:25 PM – Upcoming – Lady Vikings taking on Bishop McGuinness in Semifinal #2

Regional Semifinal #1:

Mitchell 60
Mt. Airy 58

L. Norris (MIT): 26 Points – Game Winner as time expired

8:20 PM – Lakin Norris grabs her 5th rebound and hits the basket as time expires to give the Lady Mountaineers the 60-58 victory in the first Semifinal of the evening.

8:17 PM – Lyndsay Jensen nails a three point basket with 50 seconds remaining on the the clock to tie the contest 58-58.

8:12 PM – Mitchell 53, Mt. Airy 52 with 2:30 remaining in contest.  Norris just picked up a fourth personal foul.

8:05 PM – Mitchell opens final quarter with a 7-0 run  tying contest at 44-44 with 5:41 to play.  Jordan Hiatt and Ellie Case combined for 24 of the 44 Lady Bear Points, with Lakin Norris just making good on an and one play to give her 22 for the game, and give the Lady Mountaineers the three point 47-44 lead with 5:00 Minutes to play.

8:00 PM – Mitchell cuts it to four at the end of three periods of play.  Norris leading the way with 19 points, scoring 10 of Mitchell’s 16 points in the quarter.  Mt. Airy holds the 44-40 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

7:55 PM – With time winding down in the third quarter, Mt. Airy has extended the margin to six at 44-38.

At the Half:  Lakin Norris (Mit): 9 pts, 2 reb   Jordan Hiatt (MTA): 6 pts to lead Lady Bears

7:30 PM – Mt. Airy 25 Mitchell 24 at the half.  Norris has 9 points to lead the Lady Mountaineers.  Great half of action.

7:25 PM – Mitchell Timeout:  Mt. Airy 23, Mitchell 19.  Lady Bears rally take their first lead of the contest, and use a defensive stop and a three point basket to make it a four point advantage with time running down in the first half.

7:20 PM – Four minutes into the 2nd quarter, and the Lady Mountaineers are clinging to a small lead.  Ellie Case just pulled down a rebound and nailed the layup, drawing the 3rd foul on Ashley Greene of Mitchell sending her to the bench.  Case hit free throw to make it a 17-16 Mountaineer advantage.

7:15 PM – Mitchell 12 Mt. Airy 9 at the end of the first quarter.  Lakin Norris has 6 points to lead all scorers.

7:10 PM – Mitchell and Mt. Airy are on the floor right now, and Mitchell holds an 8-5 lead midway through the first quarter.  Keep posted here throughout the night as we try to keep you in the know!

Avery @ Nantahala: My Perspective

First and foremost, I hope this will quell a few questions and rumors.

Second, I’m not here to give anything more than an opinion, and the last thing that I would want to do is paint someone in a bad light.

There really is not a good way for me to describe what took place on Wednesday evening at Nantahala School, it was to say the least chaos at its finest.  If you were there, then you fully understand that what took place was more than interesting; for those of you that weren’t…here is my take.

The contest started just like any other, the teams took the floor and action got underway.  Nantahala controlled the tip, and scored the first basket.  Excitement was high as the game got underway in anticipation of the match-up between Avery’s Dustin Clarke and Justin Griffith of the Hawks.

Griffith was impressive and, in my opinion, it would have been a great battle between he and Clarke…that is if Clarke had been on the floor.  Toward the end of the first period, Clarke picked up his second foul of the contest on a questionable call, sending him to the bench.  After Clarke was on the bench, Griffith was able to spark a Hawk run to open a 15-9 lead, scoring 11 of Nantahala’s 15 points in the period.

Clarke reentered the contest early in the second quarter, and quickly was called for his third foul; which again was a questionable foul, sending him back to the bench for the remainder of the first half.

As the second period continued, calls became more questionable, and fouls were aplenty among the Avery Vikings.  Three players entered the half with three fouls and one with four personal fouls in just sixteen minutes of play.  The foul count at the half was Avery – 15 Nantahala – 4.

Throughout the gymnasium grumblings were heard during the half about the lopsided numbers on the board; most notable the grumblings that I overheard coming from the Nantahala fans.  The surprising thing of it all was that yes, they were excited to be leading 47-21 at the half; but they were still in shock about the apparent one-sided nature of the contest.

I even overheard a Hawk fan saying, “I don’t know if we want to win this way” to another fan.

As the second half got underway, Avery exploded out of the gate, pulling back into the contest, but the Hawks matched them shot for shot over the first couple of minutes of the third period.  Midway through, Clarke picked up his fourth foul, benching him yet again, and allowing Griffith have his way with the Viking defense.

Avery continued to battle as best they could, but a clearly objectionable travel call occurred midway through the third period, as Dylan Eppley was blocked back to the floor by Wesley Holden.  The call should have been, by rule, a held ball; a call that would have reverted to the possession arrow.

Instead, Eppley was called for the travel sparking a question from the Avery bench.  Head Coach Bo Manis had no more than gotten two words out of his mouth before he was hit with a technical foul, seemingly in anticipation of a bitter exchange.  The technical was Avery’s second of the contest, and raised further questions among the crowd.

As the contest headed into the final quarter, the chaos was starting to set in, with some fans exchanging banter back and forth, and the players becoming more frustrated with the situation that was taking place.

With just over seven minutes remaining, Clarke was called for his fifth foul on a phantom charge call that sent Clarke to the bench.  The foul in question was the third such call of the evening on Clarke, and was the sixth offensive foul called on the Vikings on the night.  The foul itself appeared to have been a great acting job by Holden, who appeared to flop to his back while Clarke was going straight up for the basket two feet away.

Clarke was then tagged with Avery’s third technical of the evening for “refusing to leave the floor”; a call that was made while Coach Manis still had fifteen seconds of the allotted thirty to substitute for the player.

The situation continued to build as the fourth quarter continued, with a number of questionable calls, and no-calls that appeared to happen on both sides of the ball at times, but the contest was already out of control in some factors, and only got worse.  With just under two and a half minutes remaining, Manis was tagged with his second technical foul of the contest for reasons that are still uncertain.  The Bench was assessed another technical during the exchange while questioning what the fourth call was for.

At this point the crowd began to realize that what was going on seemed deeper than just an argued call.

Manis was asked to leave because of the second technical on him, and due to the third being called on the bench, Assistant Coach Reggie Oakes was also asked to leave; leaving the Vikings with both coaches to finish the contest from the locker room.  Confusion set in among the Viking team, but they huddled next to the bench to regroup and look to continue the contest.

It was at this point that the contest took an unexpected and even more questionable turn with the officials leaving the floor with 2:21 remaining in the contest.  The Hawks held an 84-59 lead, and Avery’s team already had 4 players on the bench that had fouled out of the contest.  After the teams regrouped, Nantahala administrators asked the officials to return to the floor to finish the contest, to which the officiating crew refused and terminated the contest.

As I said, I’m not fully sure what took place in that gymnasium on Wednesday evening, and to be honest…I’m pretty happy that I don’t know all the facts.  I was glad I was there to see what took place, because it is one of those things that you have to see to believe.

A few observations I have on the contest from where I was sitting:  I think the Avery faithful handled themselves in a great manner based on what I saw.  I did not see any unsportsmanlike conduct from anyone on the Avery bench, or any one sitting in the crowd.

I have heard of issues that supposedly took place, but I did not see those issues with my own eyes, and therefore have no reason to comment on those matters.  I will say that it is a shame that a team traveled three and a half hours for a contest that on paper looked like a great match-up for both schools, only to find themselves in a contest that turned ugly.

I, personally, want to congratulate each of the Viking players on a great season; a season in which they exceeded expectations and a season that unfortunately ended in a less than memorable fashion.

GO VIKES!