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The final record may not completely reflect it in what is a top-heavy 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, but the Beddingfield High varsity boys basketball team is in the midst of enjoying one of the better seasonal individual performances in recent memory.
Stepping out of county competition on Wednesday night at Tarboro, 6-foot-5 senior Avery Huggins came within an eyelash of his third triple-double of the season.
Huggins, with a pair of triple-doubles to his credit already against county rivals Hunt and Fike, went for 24 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks in a 69-67 loss at Tarboro.
The Bruins (4-6) will have an opportunity to get off to a strong start in their EPC opener Friday night, as a 1-12 North Pitt team serves as the opposition. As for Huggins, he will have the opportunity to go up against top-flight competition at least four times in conference play, with Beddingfield hosting defending North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A champion Farmville Central on Jan. 28 and visiting the Jaguars on Feb. 11. The home-and-home series with SouthWest Edgecombe and Radford University signee Keishon Porter is set to take place Jan. 24 at SouthWest Edgecombe and home on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) versus the Cougars to close out the regular season.
Huggins has been supplemented — albeit in a sneaky fashion — by junior Raekwon Batts. As the bruising fullback rounds into basketball shape, he has been steadily increasing his production on the offensive end. Batts, who has displayed a knack for getting to the right spot on the floor to receive passes for easy finishes, contributed 20 points in the loss to Tarboro.
Although below the .500 mark, Beddingfield finds itself in a potential “sweet spot” to get above that figure in the next five games with contests against North Pitt, Smithfield-Selma, North Johnston, North Lenoir and Nash Central before the two-game gauntlet with the Jaguars and Cougars. The aforementioned quintet all own losing records on the eve of EPC play.
FUN WITH RANKINGS
The top of the EPC heap is no place for the faint of heart.
According to Monday’s NCHSAA release of its Adjusted MaxPreps rankings — which go a long way toward seeding the postseason when the time arrives — Farmville Central occupies the No. 2 spot in all of 2-A with a 10-2 record, both coming at the John Wall Holiday Invitational to The Patrick School (New Jersey) and 4-A power Raleigh Millbrook.
SouthWest, coming off a 63-56 win over Washington on Wednesday night, sits at No. 22, five spot behind the Pam Pack at No. 17
Of course, the Adjusted MaxPreps rankings, modified for the NCHSAA’s purposes, go a long way toward seeing the postseason when the time arrives.
The top two teams in both the EPC and 3-A Big East Conference from the regular season automatically qualify for the playoffs and are seeded with other No. 1s and No. 2s in the East according to their AMPR. If a team outside of the top two in each league wins the conference tournament, it is assured of a playoff berth, but is seeded with the at-large qualifiers based on AMPR.
The NCHSAA releases its version of the Adjusted MaxPreps rankings each Monday.
Across The Wilson Times readership area, Wilson Prep is ranked No. 28 in the NCHSAA 1-A rankings.
In 2-A, behind SouthWest at No. 22 are Greene Central (No. 33), Beddingfield (No. 59) and North Johnston (No. 90) out of 117 2-A teams.
Charles B. Aycock paces the 3-A heap at No. 35, followed by Hunt (No. 42), Southern Nash (No. 52) and Fike (No. 62). A total of 109 schools are ranked at the 3-A level.
In its first year at the NCHSAA 1-A level, the Wilson Prep girls are No. 34 in this week’s AMPR.
A potent EPC season may be on tap, with five teams inside the top 32. North Johnston leads the area at No. 24, with Beddingfield at No. 26 and SouthWest Edgecombe at No. 32. North Pitt is firmly in the mix at No. 28.
However, all four are looking up at Farmville Central, No. 3 in this week’s rankings. The Lady Jaguars reached the 2-A title game last season.
Greene Central, playing out of the Eastern Carolina Conference, is No. 77.
The 3-A girls rankings of area teams: Hunt (No. 30), C.B. Aycock (No. 58), Southern Nash (No. 62) and Fike (No. 77).
INTO THE FIRE
With 6:45 remaining and the outcome all but decided, Fike girls head coach Jeff Nelson opted to send in a healthy batch of his junior varsity unit to finish up Friday’s 3-A Big East Conference opener against Franklinton.
The Lady Golden Demons managed just one field goal in the fourth quarter as a 28-5 spurt from the Red Rams in the third quarter finished off any hopes of Fike extending the productivity of a second quarter that saw it trim a 20-3 deficit to a 33-26 showing at the half.
Attrition, including injury and player ineligibility forced Nelson to cancel the remainder of Fike’s junior varsity season and give his underclassmen an early dose of the next level.
“Whenever we can get the opportunities, I’m going to try to get some of those JV girls in if I can,” Nelson said. “They’re learning, and when you play against a varsity team and you’re a freshman, you’re just going to see how it is. Hopefully in a year or two, they get all those mistakes and all that stuff away and hopefully turn into decent basketball players.”