Pack primed for stellar season

Published 8:06 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

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With four starters back and a deep bench, the Washington High School boys could have their best basketball season in years. It’s not like the program hasn’t seen recent success, but this year could be special if they can mesh their impressive individual skills into a cohesive unit that is only focused on winning.

“We took giant strides in that direction over the summer and have continued during pre-season practice,” coach David Allewalt said. “As these guys have matured, they’ve realized winning is fun and that they can complete with anybody when they play together.”

WHS won six games over two days in June at the Rocky Mount Jamboree and took two of three scrimmages against bigger schools at Southeast Raleigh High School earlier this month.

The Pack has size in 6’5 senior Gary Payne, 6’7 junior Jeremiah Wiggins, 6’4 junior Javon Williams and 6’4 sophomore Jarryn Payne, who is Gary’s younger brother.

The returning guard combo of senior Jerai Davenport and sophomore Chaise Smith provides the speed and junior Jacob Daniels is a threat from behind the 3-point line. All of them can score and their defense has improved, according to Allewalt.

“We are very athletic and can get up and down the floor,” Allewalt said. “Defense has been a major emphasis all summer and though our fall practices and it’s much improved. With our height and length, we should dominate in rebounding, which will help us get out and run.”

Smith and Williams were All-Conference selections last season and have formed a dynamic duo since their days at Chocowinity Middle School.

Smith has handled the point guard duties from his first game as a freshman and Williams averaged around 20 points a game after his friend joined the squad last season.

Davenport averaged in double figures last season Daniels was among the first players off the bench to provide outside scoring and Payne averaged a double-double in conference games in the low post.

For all the Pack’s improvement, league foe Farmville Central stands in the way of a deep playoff run.

The Jags have won four of the last five 2A state championships and a strong favorites to do so again this winter. Allewalt says the Pack has plenty of respect for FC, but thinks his team can make a run.

“They have definitely set the standard for everyone, but I think we are closing the gap. We match up better with them this year because of our size and rebounding ability. The key for us is to play with confidence and not be intimidated.”

Washington hosts the Jags in early January and travels to Farmville a month later. The season opener is Friday vs. Pasquotank County.