WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Up in the air

No boys favorite in Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament

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The records are not sensational. The expression “anybody’s tournament” applies.

The 2017 Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament for high school basketball teams in Wilson County does offer a new twist.

The eight games during a span of three evenings will be played before Christmas for the first time. A boys holiday tourney in Wilson is being staged for the 42nd year.

Fike High is this year’s site for competition Monday through Wednesday.

The boys session tips off when the Golden Demons welcome guest Smithfield-Selma in the third — and final — at approximately 8:30 Monday. Beddingfield and Hunt collide in the other semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The boys consolation contest is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday and the championship game will be played the same evening at approximately 8:30. Fike is the defending champion, claiming a 57-55 nailbiter from Hunt last December.

Only Fike and Beddingfield possess winning records at 6-5 and 4-3, respectively. Smithfield-Selma enters 5-5, while Hunt stands 2-8.

DECISION SUPPORTED

The decision of administrators to move the holiday bash to the week before Christmas instead of the week after Christmas has drawn strong support from the four head coaches.

“It’s fine with us,” commented Beddingfield head coach Joe Dvozenja. “This allows the guys to get a break and enjoy Christmas. And, if it’s done again next year, it allows you to maybe go somewhere else during the holidays. This way, we don’t have to pack in so many games while school is in session.”

Said Fike head coach Brent Secrest: “I don’t mind it. It gives us a little bit of vacation time and the kids don’t have to worry about missing the tournament because of going out-of-town.”

Observed Smithfield-Selma head coach Matt Cuddington: “Either way, we’re happy to be going back again.”

Hunt head coach Wayne Hardy expressed “mixed feelings.”

“I like it because it frees me up the rest of the Christmas break,” he admitted. “But I am a little concerned about the folks that historically come into Wilson after Christmas. I don’t know if they will be able to get back here. All in all, I like the concept.”

GRUDGE MATCH

Hunt and Beddingfield have already clashed twice, with the Bruins winning on Hunt’s court and the Warriors emerging victorious at Beddingfield.

Hardy views the third meeting in a span of some three weeks the “grudge match.”

“We have been preparing and I’m sure they have been preparing,” Hunt’s head coach said. “It should be a heckuva game.”

Hunt’s hopes, emphasized Hardy, hinge upon three goals — play smart, play hard, play together — that are expressed daily.

“If we do these three things, we can beat anybody,” Hardy declared. “If we lose one of these three things, we can lose to anybody.”

Spearheading the Warriors will be 6-foot-4 senior Jeremiah Ganaway at 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. Javion Farmer, a 6-2 senior, averages 9.7 points and 1.9 steals. Zion May, a 6-4 junior, is the leading rebounder at 9.3 per tilt and scores at a clip of 8.8 per outing. Senior Jameson Lucas adds 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per outing.

NO LOOKING PAST

Dvozenza noted attention to next week has been limited because the Bruins played at Smithfield-Selma on Friday night and were coming off back-to-back, one-point losses.

“We try to never look past anyone and we haven’t really talked about (the tournament),” Dvozenja declared. “So far, we’ve had two pretty good games and we expect the next one to be a good one.”

The Bruins expect to be without Tyrique Wooten because of a broken nose and Lamont Speight is also doubtful.

Zy’ree Wilder, a 6-1 junior, ignites Beddingfield with 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Norms are 13.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals for 6-2 senior Tobias Cooper; and 9.6 points. 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists for 6-4 senior Octavious Lacey.

Whether playing early or late, excitement is evident.

“The atmosphere is one of a kind and will get them excited,” assured Dvozenja. “It’s good for everybody and our guys are very excited. It’s exciting to them that high school basketball still means a lot to a lot of people.”

Beddingfield last championship game in 2015.

“We always try to win and compete,” Dvozenja remarked. “We’ll see what happens.

Hunt last prevailed in 2014..

“There is already a buzz around school,” Hardy said. “Playing before family and friends is a big deal for a lot of them and for high school athletics. Our goal is to do what we need to do to beat Beddingfield, be prepared to win the next night and bring the championship back to Hunt.”

SEEKS 15TH TITLE

Fike bids for a record 15th title while Smithfield-Selma seeks its first appearance in the final. The Spartans have claimed consolation honors each of the last two seasons.

The balanced Golden Demons feature 6-1 junior Elijahwon Cooper at 12.5 points, 2.5 assists and 3.4 steals per outing; junior Jaylen Ward at 11.5 points. 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals; 6-3 sophomore Moses Parker at 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds and 6-2 junior Dashon Horne at 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Kavaris Evans is sidelined with a broken hand, and Parker is doubtful because of a sports hernia.

The Spartans rely upon the quartet of junior Anthony Council, senior Kavon Ward, senior T.J. Altman and junior Keon Lassiter. Ward enters as the event’s top scorer at 19.8 points per game. Council scores at a 16.7 clip and averages 3.0 assists and 2.7 stseals.Altman contributes 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals. Sophomore Shak Howard is the top Spartans rebounder at 6.6 recoveries per tilt.

Council joins the injured Evans as the only returning all-tournament players.

STRAPPING IT UP

Cuddington describes his Spartans as undersized and young. The keys to success, he added, are boxing out, outworking the foe and “strapping it up” defensively. The Spartans faced Fike in a preseason jamboree.

“If we play well, we can play with and beat anyone,” Cuddington warned. “But we’re so young and a lot of things have to happen for us to play well.

“We love going to Wilson; it’s a great atmosphere. We’re the underdog as the only team outside the county — and we love that.”

Secrest views Fike’s chances as good as any.

“We have proven we can play well and the guys are very confident,” he said. “If we play as we are supposed to, we’ll come out all right. We’ve seen it and done it; we’ve got to be more consistent doing it.

“The kids seem to be excited ­— they’re ready. We’ve got to play at our tempo and win the rebounding edge — especially at the defensive end. We feel like we should win at home.”

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