Wrapping up winter, bring on the spring

Published 5:19 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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I’ve always enjoyed being outside.

In fact, I’m sitting on my porch writing this from my favorite chair as a warm, well warm enough, southerly breeze brings the promise of even warmer weather soon.

I was always the kid in my neighborhood who would go house to house to drag my friends outside for a pickup game of whatever sport was in season. It was boring inside and adventure awaited outdoors. I entertained myself when my friends weren’t around, preferably far away from grass that needed to be cut and a garden that always needed weeding. This was back in the stone age, before the Internet, cell phones and social media. Cable television arrived in high school.

I am firmly convinced that the Midwestern winters from the mid-70’s through the mid-80’s were the coldest, wettest on record and I don’t want to Google to confirm that I’m wrong.

Even so, we played outside as often as we could stand until we weren’t sure if our fingers and toes were still attached.

Anyway, I’ve always thought winter sports were a way to pass the time until we could play outside again and, once again, the time has arrived.

Beaufort County high school teams had a successful winter season for the most part.

The Northside girls basketball team finished 18-3, with the only loss to a fellow 1A team to Bertie in the fourth round of the state playoffs. Coach Michelle Leathers’ squad put together the two most successful seasons in recent program history after point guard Paige Sawyer transferred from Unity Christian. Leathers said she was a coach on the floor and invaluable to the Panthers success. Her tam was fun to watch and it’s too bad they didn’t go another week.

It was amazing to watch Southside junior Ka’Nyah O’Neal score almost at will, even when double and triple teamed. She scored 50 or more points twice and averaged 30 for the season. She was the only upperclassman on the court and should see more team success as her teammates improve.

The Washington boys started only one senior most of the season and still made the 2A playoffs.

Inside players Gary Payne and Z Perry return along with Jaylen Lampkins, Jerai Davenport and super freshman Javon Williams, who played up to his considerable hype by starting most of the season.

With a little luck and continued improvement, the Pack could challenge Farmville Central for the east title in a year or two.

All three wrestling programs had successful seasons as Northside qualified for the 1A playoffs in only their second season. Senior Terry Columbus was a conference champion in his weight class and all but two wrestlers return.

Southside had a state qualifier for the first time in the three-year history of their program in junior Darrin (DJ) Joyner and Washington won the conference again, finished second in the regional and made a deep run in the team playoffs.

Christian Price, Braxton Woolard, Isaac Campbell, Damarius Langley, Bryant Smith and Jonathan Richardson qualified for the individual state meet, with Campbell placing fifth.

The Pam Pack and Seahawks were well represented in the pool as WHS junior John Hinchey qualified for the state meet in five events and senior Jackson Wilder made it in four.

Juniors Austin Waters and Connor Lewis along with freshman Victor Hill also competed and senior Campbell Barnes and sophomore Ty Cole represented Southside.

On the girls side, Seahawks junior Delta Cole took 11th at the state meet, while Abby Lewis, Aspen Sommers, Anna Shadle, Sydney Smithwick and Elana Hill also qualified.

Pungo Christian’s girls basketball team made it to the NCISAA Final Four for the second straight year and the Terra Ceia girls also  picked up a playoff victory.

All of the above accomplishments made the already short winter pass fairly quickly and now it’s time to head outside for baseball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and track.

Let the outdoor games begin.