KT’s top area performances that were dazzling

Published 12:42 pm Saturday, July 26, 2008

By By Keven Travis, Sports Editor
While many are enjoying their summer, several athletes are gearing up for the start of the fall sports season.
It’s especially important for the rising seniors, who want to end their high school careers with a bang. Before delving into another year of football, volleyball, tennis and more, here are the top 11 performances that dazzled me as sports editor of the WDN.
11) Williamston is traditionally known for being a baseball powerhouse. In the spring of 2003, coach Herbie Rogers had a loaded team. The team could hit. The team could play defense. The team could pitch. Boy, could that team pitch. Mike Sheperd, Dee Eubanks and Brad Roach were sensational on the mound. Eubanks, who went on to become the WDN Pitcher of the Year that season, fired a no-hitter. In the next game, Roach duplicated the feat with a no-no of his own. The Tiger pitching staff went on to throw a combined four no-hitters during the season.
10) Charity Watson, the strong-armed pitcher for the Washington Pam Pack softball team, is used to long innings. She pitched a pair of gems in two of the longest games in state history. She picked up the win in a 2-1 victory in 15 innings over D.H. Conley when she struck out 33 batters. Watson also got the win when Washington beat Havelock 1-0 in 19 innings, where she fanned 37 batters. As a junior, Watson — a three-time WDN Pitcher of the Year — went the distance in another marathon game. This time, the stakes were a little higher. Watson was brilliant, striking out 24 batters in helping to lead the Pam Pack to a 3-0 road win in 14 innings over the Charles B. Aycock Falcons in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state playoffs. Usually calm and collected on the mound, Watson used that to her advantage as she stymied a handful of Aycock threats in the latter innings.
9) In a game against the Northside Panthers, a team loaded with the likes of Derrick Leathers, Greg Satchel, Cleveton “Pappy” Arthur, Bryce Stephenson, Maurice Collins and Warren Bonner, it was a one-man show that made this game memorable. Joe Barber, who went on to play at Asheville University and then professionally overseas, was absolutely on fire in the game. Barber buried long-range jumpers, leaners, a couple jams and some scoop shots for good measure.
8) Travis Daniels has speed to burn. He demonstrated that last season with the Pam Pack football team. The future UNC-Pembroke running back had a career-game, and one I won’t soon forget, in a season-opening 35-13 win against North Pitt. Daniels, who would eventually become the WDN Male Athlete of the Year, ran past, over and through North Pitt defenders at will. Daniels, an East-West All-Star selection, finished his amazing performance with 330 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
7) It was a battle between two of the best female basketball players in the state — one the queen of the court, and the other looking to take her throne. Plymouth senior Whitney Stokes, a three-time WDN Basketball Player of the Year, went toe-to-toe with freshman phenom Katie Paschal of the Williamston Tigers. Stokes, who was the state’s leading scorer at 29 points a game, was nothing short of spectacular. She came out on fire, hitting 3-pointers, layups and runners off beautiful spin moves to give the Vikings an early lead. Paschal, the state’s second leading scorer at 27 points a game, did all she could to bring her Tigers back. She hit from anywhere and everywhere on the court, whether wide open or covered like a blanket. In the end, Stokes and her 30 points were more than enough to offset Paschal’s 24 points as Plymouth cruised to a 69-50 win. The victory gave the Vikings first place in the conference.
6) Kristen Slade, a star pitcher with the Northside Panthers, had one of the most spectacular pitching performances I’ve ever seen. Slade, who went on to play at Greensboro College and is now a coach at P.S. Jones Middle School, took to the hill in a softball game against the Manteo Redskins. The two teams battled back and forth, each team threatening a couple times, but never able to break through. Slade kept Manteo off balance and off the bases for most of the game. The Panthers finally pulled out a 1-0 thriller in 18 innings, and Slade threw every pitch for the Panthers.
5) Damien Linson was a star football player at Plymouth High School and Central Michigan University. But he also left his mark in basketball with the Vikings. In one of the better performances on a big stage that I’ve seen was a remarkable effort by Linson, comding in the NCHSAA 1A Eastern Regional semifinals. It came in a 85-79 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill at East Carolina’s Minges Coliseum. Despite his team trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter, Linson nearly led his Vikings to one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history. Thanks to 11 straight points by Linson, Plymouth used a 15-0 run to pull within a single point, 72-71. But the Bulldogs hit key free throws down the stretch to advance to the Eastern Regional championship game. Linson scored 14 of his 25 points in the final eight minutes to key the comeback.
4) Though Williamston was in second place and Plymouth third in the conference standings, the players hustled as if a state championship were on the line. That’s what rivalries will bring out in players.
Angelo Sharpless, a high-flying junior for the Vikings, was so revved up, he played to exhaustion. And that was in the first 16 minutes.
With his team trailing, Sharpless plucked a loose ball off the ground and took a giant step before soaring toward, and above, the rim. He threw down a vicious two-handed dunk that not only shook the backboard, but shook the Plymouth fans into a frenzy. Down seven points, Sharpless broke free and rammed home another two-handed slam. He stole the ball moments later and came up with a dizzying reverse flush, pulling the Vikings within three to end the third quarter. Sharpless continued his assault on the Tigers, and on the rims, in the fourth. His breakaway slam, where he seemed to be frozen in mid-air before unleashing a wicked tomahawk jam, made it a one-point game.
The teams went back and forth the rest of the way. When the Vikings scored, oftentimes coming off turnovers thanks to relentless pressure, the Plymouth fans would bounce up and down and point at the scoreboard.
When the Tigers scored, usually by the never-show-fear long range shooting of Jamel Moore, the Williamston fans would wave their arms and point at the scoreboard.
It was a game within the game.
Plymouth was finally able to gain the late momentum, thanks in large part to Sharpless and his mind-numbing display of slams, to take a 68-63 victory.
3) Sweat poured off Gerald Lawrence’s face in an Aug. 26, 2005 game against Tarboro. He bent down, dug his cleat into the turf and prepared for the play of his young life.
On the other side of him was Tarboro’s Shaun Draughn, who had run silly over the Pam Pack defense all night. In fact, Draughn, who had committed to the University of North Carolina, had collected 258 yards and five touchdowns.
All Draughn needed was another two yards to give Tarboro the win at J.G. “Choppy” Wagner Stadium. But Lawrence, now a linebacker with the East Carolina Pirates, and the defense had other thoughts. As Draughn tried to make his way to the right pylon on a two-point conversion attempt, Lawrence met him with a thunderous blow, standing up the senior running back. Lawrence’s teammates helped pile on top of Draughn, stopping him short of the goal line and giving Washington a wild 34-33 overtime victory.
The play helped Washington win the fifth annual Victory Bell Bowl, after Tarboro had won it the previous four years.
2) Calvin Daniels brought the Washington Pam Pack basketball fans to their feet numerous times throughout his career thanks to a dizzying array of high-flying dunks. But on Feb. 6, 2006, in New Bern, it was a 3-pointer that prompted Washington’s faithful to arise and give a loud, standing ovation.
And what a special 3-pointer it was.
With seven seconds remaining in the third quarter, Daniels took an inbound pass and lobbed the ball to teammate Derrick Roundtree near the scorer’s table. Roundtree fired the ball back to Daniels, who calmly eyed the clock and dribbled up the floor.
With one last look at the clock, and from some 40 feet out, Daniels rose high in the air and lofted a shot over two leaping New Bern defenders. The ball tickled nothing but nylon as the buzzer sounded, giving Washington a 50-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
More importantly, it gave Daniels 1,806 points in his career, making him the greatest scorer in the history of Washington Pam Pack basketball.
Daniels eclipsed the previous mark of 1,805 points, held by NBA Hall of Famer, Dominique Wilkins.
The Pam Pack senior, now a member of the Elizabeth City State University basketball team, finished the game, a 64-61 Washington victory, with 24 points, giving him 1,809 for his career.
He finished his prep career with 1,940 points.
1) Trimane Goddard, now a standout safety with the North Carolina Tar Heels and a likely NFL draft pick, was spectacular in baseball and basketball. His claim-to-fame came in football. Blessed with God-given talent — he can easily soar for a slam dunk — he would make defenders look silly each and every Friday night during high school season while playing for the Roanoke Redskins. I remember one play in particular, where he took a snap and ranged to his left. He saw a handful of defenders waiting for him, so he changed course. Goddard went to change course a handful of times on this run, turning, twisting, zigging, zagging and leaving his defenders grasping at air while he galloped for a long touchdown run.
Goddard made my mouth drop so many times, he became my favorite high school player to ever cover.
Kevin Travis is the Sports Editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com.