County coaches reflect on successful seasons

Published 4:54 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

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High school basketball is officially over in Beaufort County as players from the three remaining teams turned in their gear one last time before turning to the spring sports season.
The Washington and Northside boys along with the Panthers girls ended the season in the state tournament second round last week, but all three had accomplishments to hang their hats on.

Washington: The Pam Pack’s 20-9 record was the program’s best in many years and sophomore Chaise Smith used the state tournament as his coming out party.
The 6’2 spindly point guard was among the top prospects in his class back in November, but moved nearer to the top with 36 points in the first round win over Wilson Beddingifled at home and 38 in the 807-6 loss at #2 Goldsboro Friday.
“He was battling a stomach bug and to have such a big game under those circumstances is really impressive,” coach David Allewalt said. “He’s learned to control the pace of the game as he’s matured and takes better care of the ball. He has more room to improve and is going to be a huge problem for our opponents the next two years.”
“I’m proud of the way we came back from being down double-digits twice and we put ourselves in position to win,” coach David Allewalt said. “It’s been quite a while since Washington has won 20 games in a season, so I’m proud of that. Chaise was battling a stomach bug and to have such a big game under those circumstances is really impressive.”
Starters Gary Payne and Jerai Davenport will graduate, but Allewalt is bullish on the future.
“Jacob Daniels, Jeremiah Wiggins and Jarryn Payne will be ready to take on bigger roles next year, so we should be good again,” Allewalt said. “Javon (Williams) and Chaise will be back as well, so we’ll see if we can go farther in next year’s tournament.”

Northside: The Panthers boys set the stage for their 18-10 season over the summer during workouts and tournaments after an eight win season in 2023. Despite a big loss at #1 seed Wilson Prep, coach Jared Adams is happy with the results.
“It was a tough way to end the season, but we still had a great year,” coach Jared Adams said. “it was the first time since 2018 we’ve made it to the second round and it’s a product of our off-season work. The guys put it the time over the summer and it paid off for them. Griffin Johnson raised his scoring average by five points a game and had a ton of double/doubles for us. Tate Gibbs increased his rebounds by five a game and (point guard) Max Vansant’s assist to turnover ratio was much improved. He made better decisions with the ball and created more opportunities for his teammates.”

On the girls side, senior Mariah Jones ended her standout career with 30 points, but the Panthers lost at #4 Vance Charter, 76-70, in double overtime.
Jones totaled over 1,400 points for her career and will play at Louisburg Junior College next year.
It was great coaching her for four years,” coach Michele Leathers said. “Her role changed every year because she is a natural guard, but played out of position to help our team. She did whatever it took to win and I know she will flourish at Louisburg. I had several people from Vance Carter and other schools talk about her sportsmanship and how she carries herself on the floor. It has been a pleasure and to hear say she was glad to play for me brings me joy.”