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On vacation …

Howdy, y’all: I’m on vacation this week on beautiful Emerald Isle with the Hot Blonde and an ever-changing cast of characters all week. While I’ll try to keep some updates flowing up here (go Hawks and Blue Devils tomorrow night; congratulations Parrott Academy softball team!), I’m probably going to get my smoking-hot tan on and sleep about 16 hours a day this week.

Anyhoo — have a good week and I’ll be back up full-time next week. Feel free to get on this post and yap to your heart’s content … except for Heelsfan, who had to bring up on my Facebook page about the Tar Heels sweeping Virginia this weekend in Chapel Hill. Dude … too cruel!

ALSO: Help me wish the HB a happy birthday today! She’s XX years old today but doesn’t look a day over XX. Love you, baby!

All they do is win — go NL, SL, APA and track athletes!

It was quite a night for our three area playoff teams last night:

  • Behind a record-setting home run effort by junior Brian Hardy, the North Lenoir Hawks battled past Rocky Mount, 11-4, in the third round of the 3A baseball playoffs. Hardy homered twice last night and now has a school season record of 12 dingers this season. The Hawks play at Eastern Wayne Tuesday night for a berth in the 3A Eastern Regional championship series against either Asheboro or NE Guilford
  • The annual South Lenoir-Whiteville playoff game (the fourth in the past five seasons) went to the Blue Devils, who hammered the Wolfpack, 10-2, as Paul Mills, Austin Smith and Eddie Hawkins led the way. The Blue Devils host North Brunswick on Tuesday in the friendly confines of Paul Novicki Stadium for a berth in the 2A Eastern Regional championship series against either Randleman or South Granville
  • The undefeated Arendell Parrott Academy softball team beat down Fayetteville Christian School, 11-1, last night in Fayetteville to advance to today’s semifinal game against a school from my old stomping grounds, Gaston Christian School. When the Patriots win that game , they’ll play for the state title at 3 p.m.

My take: Congratulations to coaches Jim Montague, Troy Eason and Matt Beaman for all their success last night! It’s crazy that as small as Lenoir County is, that there is this much baseball/softball talent in our area. Let’s send some good mojo to Fayetteville for the Patriots to bring a title home today and then support those young men from Deep Run and Wheat Swamp on Tuesday!

On top of all this, there are track athletes from Kinston, South Lenoir and Greene Central competing in the 2A state championships in Greensboro today with opportunities to bring back more state titles to our area. Keep those kids and coaches in mind today, too!

Also: big time props to Ryan Herman for his tremendous job covering these runs this spring. I’ve been in this position before — maybe not even to this degree, though! — and he’s doing a great job keeping our readers up to the minute on all these title runs (all at The Free Press’ prep website, freepresspreps.com). Keep up the great work, dude!

Morning News Report; May 19, 2011

T-MINUS TWO DAYS AND COUNTING

Yep, Doomsday is just two days away as the end of the world begins Saturday at 9 p.m. local time, according to some guy who missed his original prediction in 1994.

My take: Yep … I have a pretty strong feeling this kook is going to be disappointed again.

WAKE STUDENT MAKES RAPE ACCUSATION AGAINST DEMON DEACON PLAYERS

Maggie Hurt, a former Wake Forest band member, accused former Demon Deacon basketball players Jeff Teague and Gary Clark of forcing her into oral sex on NBC’s “Today Show” this morning. She alleges it happened in Miami two years ago after Wake was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament and that WFU swept the allegations under the rug.

Miami police and Wake officials investigated and cleared the players.

My take: It appears to me there’s really nothing here — so why did NBC feel like it needed to bring this out into the open? The two players are threatening to sue for slander – and I have no problem with that whatsoever.

NORTH LENOIR, SOUTH LENOIR BASEBALL ADVANCE TO THIRD ROUND

The baseball teams from South Lenoir and North Lenoir took care of business Tuesday night to advance to the third round of the 2A and 3A playoffs, respectively.

My take: I was wondering if North Lenoir could get past Northern Nash — and the Hawks came through with flying colors (see what I did there?). Swansboro was a bit of a nemesis to South Lenoir this year, but the Devils also stepped up when it counted.

Now, the Hawks travel to Rocky Mount, which will be a whale of a game Friday. Although I’ve only seen NL once this year, you can’t help but feel maybe this is another of those Montague runs that are going to take the Hawks a couple more rounds.

South Lenoir is also on the road to a true playoff rival, Whiteville, a team that eliminated the Blue Devils in 2007 and 2008 in the fourth round of the state playoffs – by identical 4-3 scores. Last year, though, South Lenoir redeemed itself with a second-round victory at home over the Wolfpack. Should be a hell of a game in Whiteville Friday.

In softball, Ayden-Grifton was the only local team to advance to the second round; but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw some props to former South Lenoir softball pitcher Taylor Hussey and the James Kenan Tigers for their incredible upset of previously undefeated East Columbus in Tuesday’s first round. Hussey and the Tigers entered the game as a wild-card at 9-12 while EC was 18-0. No matter — Hussey struck out seven, only gave up three hits and led the Tigers to a second-round matchup at Hobbton. Good luck, Taylor!

The iPod shuffle

Me, Myself And I — De La Soul

Compton’s N The House (Remix)– N.W.A.

(I) Get Lost — Eric Clapton

Lucille — Kenny Rogers

Sweet Hitch-Hiker — Creedence Clearwater Revival

P.S.: Check out Jon Dawson’s crazy take on the (former?) mess in Maysville with his usual J-Dizzleness added to it.

Morning News Report; May 17, 2011

Busy day of news, so you’re going to get more for your money this a.m.!

WAKE FOREST PLAYERS TO BE ACCUSED OF RAPE

A former Wake Forest student will appear on Thursday’s “Today” show on NBC to detail an alleged rape by members of the Demon Deacons basketball team before an NCAA first-round tournament game in 2009.

My take: If this is true — and this is America, y’all (innocent until proven guilty, etc.) — it would go a long ways towards us understanding how an ACC program that was No. 1 midway through the 2009 season became one of the worst in the NCAAs less than two years later.

I know I’ll be watching this …

STATE GETS GOOD GUARD

Former Raleigh Word of God swing guard Torian Graham, a flat-out playa, has announced his intention to play at N.C. State in 2012. He’s a top-25 player nationally — but will probably climb the ratings this season.

My take: Graham played in the Glaxo last year — and was a monster. My only concern: in the last 1-plus years of prep basketball, he’s been enrolled at three high schools — Durham Hillside, WOG and now Pace (?) in Chapel Hill. As reported here by the great Dave Telep, Graham isn’t sure where he’s going to play his senior season. So … he could attend four high schools in a two-year period.

JERRY LEWIS RETIRING FROM MDA TELETHON

After 45 years of raising millions of dollars for muscular dystrophy and ALS, comedian Jerry Lewis will retire from hosting his trademark telethon in September.

My take: As campy (and sometimes unwatchable) as it had become, you knew Lewis’ heart was in the right place. Kudos to the man for helping untold thousands of people with his talent — and all the telethons his influence spawned.

AH-NOLD HAS A LOVE CHILD

Arnold Schwarzenegger has confessed to having a love child with a former household staffer. It happened 10 years ago and the former California governor and action movie star has provided for the child’s care.

My take: Well, now we know why Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver separated last week.

ROMNEY RAISES $10 MILLION FOR CAMPAIGN … YESTERDAY

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised $10.25 million for his campaign yesterday.

My take: I don’t care who you are — that’s pretty freaking impressive. How much will it help him in the muddied Republican field? That remains to be seen, but $10 million in one day can’t hurt.

PREP SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS BEGIN; BASEBALL CONTINUES

South Lenoir, Greene Central, Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior all begin their respectivesoftball preseasons today on the road at Elizabeth City Northeastern, Swansboro, Dunn Midway and Pender County, respectively,today. The undefeated Arendell Parrott Academy opens the playoffs against Winston-Salem Calvary Baptist at home today.

On the prep baseball side of the ledger, five teams play in the second round, including two home games at South Lenoir (vs. Swansboro) and Ayden-Grifton (vs. Perquimans). North Lenoir travels to Nash Central, Jones Senior visits Dunn Midway and APA hits the road to Westchester Day School.

My take: Other than APA’s softball team, it’s going to be tough for one of our local teams to make the second round, although I’d never count a Lisa Smith-coached South Lenoir team out under any circumstances.

And how weird is it not to see Heather Carson’s North Lenoir Hawks in the playoffs? She is arguably one of the best coaches — in ANY sport — in our area and it’s incredible to think she doesn’t have a team in the postseason.

As for the baseball playoffs, I think South Lenoir is likely the only team to survive tonight. North Lenoir has a good chance at Nash Central, but it depends on which Hawks team shows up. A-G has a hard game tonight while playing on the road for Jones Senior and APA is going to be tough.

Regardless — good luck to all our local teams today!

KILLEBREW SUCCUMBS TO CANCER

One of baseball’s all-time greats, Harmon Killebrew, passed away today at home from esophageal cancer. He was 74.

My take: Admittedly, he played before my time, but if you’re any kind of baseball fan, you know he’s one of the best.

The iPod shuffle

Emotional Rescue — The Rolling Stones

A Day Without Me — U2

Rope — Foo Fighters

I Should Have Known — Foo Fighters

I’m A Believer — The Monkees

South Lenoir softball updates

If you can’t make it to Walnut Creek for today’s 2A state championship softball tourney, I’ll be giving updates every half-inning at my Twitter account (BCHanks) and periodically on my Facebook page. Can’t access my blog from my phone — not smart enough to figure that one out yet…

Go Blue Devils!

UPDATE 2 P.M.: South Lenoir hung in for six innings, but gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth to lose 2-0 to Eastern Randolph. A very, very good effort from a Blue Devils team that NO ONE expected to make it to the state championship.

Congratulations to one of the best softball coaches in the state — Lisa Smith, who also has a great staff.

It was fun hanging with Ol’ Jimmy and his lovely wife, along with Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Pollock. I went to the game as a fan — I didn’t use credentials — and it made me respect the fans who made the trip. Paying $5 to park is bad enough, but $10 to get into a 1 1/2-hour game? Seriously? If you had a family of four from Deep Run or Pink Hill make the trip both days, the gas would cost you about $60, the tickets to Friday and Saturday’s games would be $80 and parking cost you $10. That doesn’t include food for both days. For that family of four, it cost you about $250 to support your team this weekend. Wow.

Real life SUCKS

One of those days, bloggees — tried all day to get some things up here for you to peruse, but have been crazy-busy with real life work. Sigh.

Anyhoo, let’s all send good vibes up to Raleigh, where the South Lenoir softball team is playing in the state championship tournament. Ryan Herman is up there and will have a story while Janet S. Carter will have fantastic pictures of the action.

Also, Rue McClanahan died, 99-year-old John Wooden is being treated for dehydration in L.A. (but isn’t dead, although some news sources said he was last night) and the Celtics lost to the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals last night.

I also have some things I want to get off my chest about the whole coaching mess here in Lenoir County — if I find some time this weekend, I’ll try to vent. If not, I’ll hit it early next week.

P.S.: Watched the Celtics-Lakers game at East Coast Wings and although we had an irritated waitress (I think I might have been a little too insistent on getting the sound turned on for the game!), everything was great again.

And before our good friend Petey Pablo busts my butt for these free ads for ECW, I am going to try out a few more places and post my little reviews here on the blog in the near future. I have not visited 109 yet for games and fun, but I hear they have an awesome Texas Hold ‘Em tournament on Sundays and Wednesdays — and I want to try it out. I also heard a rumor that Pastimes has been sold to a guy we all like here, so I want to get to the bottom of that, too.

I do NOT hate South Lenoir softball

Contrary to some of the e-mails and Facebook messages I’ve received today, I don’t hate South Lenoir softball. In fact, I have always appreciated the job that Lisa Smith, Thurman Pate and the Blue Devil coaches have done with the girls in Deep Run.

But this is the fact: I’m no longer the sports editor of The Free Press. I am the managing editor of TFP, and yes, the current SE — Ryan Herman — works for me. But in case you haven’t noticed, he’s been up to his eyeballs with work, too — he just got back from Enid, Okla., yesterday covering the LCC baseball team in the NJCAA D-2 World Series. He also had to deal with the breaking news of Kinston HS football coach Battle Holley leaving for East Duplin, so the time he was going to spend in Deep Run today was taken up with THAT story.

Herman is essentially a (full-time) one-man sports department. Yes, we have David Hall on staff, but he works for all three Freedom ENC newspapers (Free Press, New Bern Sun Journal and Jacksonville Daily News) as the cover guy for the Kinston Indians and ECU athletics. Herman has two excellent stringers in Keith Spence and Michael Moon, but they, too, have full-time jobs and can help only when they can.

I know Herman is going to have excellent stories in the paper Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He is covering the championships in Raleigh this weekend and Janet S. Carter will photograph the games.

For anyone to suggest that we — or I — “hate” South Lenoir is ridiculous. Anyone who REALLY knows me knows I covered SL athletics — all of them — harder than any previous sports editor at TFP. Don’t believe me? Ask Jimmy Smith, Troy Eason or Lisa Smith.

I hate that the softball team has not received more coverage than it has to this point in its playoff run, but trust me when I tell you it will get better as the week goes on.

Friday night playoff updates

2A baseball playoffs

FINAL: Farmville Central 3, Greene Central 0, thanks to Trey Kiger and Keith Spence for these updates!

FINAL: Croatan 6, South Lenoir 5, 8 innings, thanks to Michael Moon, Charlie Casey, James Herring, Bobby “Heelatious” Davis and Derek Hunter for these updates!

2A softball playoffs

FINAL: South Lenoir 5, Topsail 4, 8 innings, thanks to Derek Hunter and Jody Turner for these updates! The Blue Devils will host East Duplin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Deep Run in the third round!

Morning News Report; May 21, 2010

SL, GC IN THIRD-ROUND BASEBALL PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS TONIGHT

South Lenoir hosts Croatan and Greene Central faces Farmville Central at the House That Rabbit Built in tonight’s third-round NCHSAA 2A baseball playoffs. The winners of those two games face each other Tuesday night.

In other playoff action today, the South Lenoir softball team travels to Topsail and six North Lenoir athletes will be in Greensboro for the 3A track and field championships.

My take: There’s no reason there shouldn’t be a traffic jam in Deep Run tonight — this is a huge game and if the Devils win, it would set up a fantastic game against either GC or FC in the next round. Michael Moon — who has covered SL each step of the way — will be covering it for us tonight, while the affable, jocular and venerable Keith Spence will be in Snow Hill tonight for TFP. I’ll be running the desk tonight and giving you updates here on the blog and on Twitter, so if you’re unable to go, hit one of those sources.

BRET MICHAELS HAS ANOTHER STROKE

Poison lead singer Bret Michaels is back in the hospital after another stroke and the revelation that he has a hole in his heart. This follows his brain hemorrhage a few weeks ago.

My take: Good luck to the leader of one of my favorite 80s hair bands … but all that hard living is sure coming back to bite him in the butt, isn’t it?

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL SENDS PICS OF HER TA-TAS TO 14-YEAR-OLD STUDENT

An assistant principal at a Florida high school was arrested after she sent pictures of her breasts to a 14-year-old student at her school. The boy turned her in to a guidance counselor at the school.

My take: Seriously? How dumb do you have to be to do something like this?

Maybe Jon Dawson will read this, take the hint and stop texting me topless pictures of himself. Dude, “no” means “no.”

The iPod shuffle

Penny Lane — The Beatles

You Shook Me All Night Long — AC/DC

Freakin’ It — Will Smith

Burnout — Green Day

Home Sweet Home — Motley Crue

P.S.: Have you voted for Logan Deaver today? Remember, you only have until Sunday at midnight to do so. You can vote once an hour by e-mail — so throw him at least a couple today!