Congratulations to the Vikings! (with Saturday 12:30 p.m. update)

Congratulations to the Kinston boys’ basketball team for its fourth straight trip to the Eastern Regional. Following tonight’s 72-56 win against a very, very tough Wilson Beddingfield squad in a sectional championship game, the Vikings will play at East Carolina University’s Minges Arena on Wednesday at either 7 or 8:30 p.m.; the time will be determined on Monday at the Regional meeting in Greenville, which Ryan Herman will attend.

The Vikings (25-4) will play one of these three teams in the regional semifinals on Wednesday: Clinton (24-6), Hillsborough Cedar Ridge (23-2) or Pittsboro Northwood (19-6). If Kinston wins, it’ll play at 1 p.m. on Saturday for a berth in the state championship game.

And here’s a little look-ahead to the 2A squads in the West regional: Winston-Salem Carver (16-12), Charlotte Berry Academy (23-7), West Caldwell (25-2) and Sylva Smoky Mountain (23-4). My best guess is that West Caldwell will emerge from that group.

Anyhoo — great game and awesome atmosphere at Viking Gym tonight. I’ll be blogging live from Greenville during Wednesday’s game and for the rest of Kinston’s season.

UPDATE: Kinston will be facing Pittsboro Northwood in the 8:30 p.m. game on Wednesday. AWESOME. Remember, Kinston defeated Northwood in the third round of the 2A football playoffs, so some of these kids will be seeing each other again. Should be a lot of fun on Wednesday; a reminder — I will be blogging live from the Regionals, so come on back here, you hear?

ECU amends Holland’s contract; approves new football coach’s contract

From the ECU sports information department:

EAST CAROLINA AMENDS TERRY HOLLAND’S CONTRACT

GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina University Board of Trustees, in an unanimous vote Friday, approved a three-year extension of athletics director Terry Holland’s contract until Dec. 31, 2014.

The contract, which was originally set to expire in 2011, will continue Holland’s annual salary at $356,400.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard noted that none of his senior administrators are receiving raises in the current budget climate.

Holland, who was appointed to his position in 2004, has overseen athletics department improvements such as higher academic achievement by student-athletes, increased attendance at football games and enhanced facilities.

The Board of Trustees also officially approved the five-year contract of head football coach Ruffin McNeill during the session. The Board’s Executive Committee had endorsed a memorandum of understanding with McNeill during a conference call on his hiring date of Jan. 21.  

My take: Although I’ve disagreed with one or two of Holland’s decisions, it’s good to maintain continuity. Good job, ECU.

Morning News Report; Feb. 26, 2010

KINSTON-BEDDINGFIELD IV

The Kinston Vikings and Wilson Beddingfield Bruins face each other for the fourth time as they’ll battle for a 2A Eastern Regional berth at Viking Gym at 7 p.m. today.

My take(s) and questions for tonight’s game: And I have several …

  • Most of you are legit sports fans and you know this truism: it’s hard enough to beat a team three times in one season — which Kinston has already done — but it’s REALLY hard to do it four times in one season. Beddingfield is as talented a team situatted within the borders of North Carolina that Kinston has faced this year. If there is anyone out there who thinks tonight’s game is a lay-up, they are very, very mistaken: Beddingfield thinks they can win this game, so the Vikings better be ready.
  • However, Kinston has looked phenomenal since the upset loss to Farmville Central on Senior Night. As you can see in Herman’s story, the Vikings haven’t let anyone stay with them since that loss — including the blowout in last Friday’s Eastern Plains 2A tournament championship win in Tarboro.
  • Speaking of that game, it sold out an hour early and there were a couple of hundred people waiting outside. You know Beddingfield travels well, so if you’re planning to come to the game — you better get there early.
  • I’m trying to track down an unconfirmed rumor that former Kinston stalwart and current Beddingfield assistant principal J.T. Tribula will be wearing a Bruins cheerleader’s skirt and carrying blue pom-pons tonight. Can anyone verify that for me?
  • If Kinston wins tonight, it’ll play Wednesday in the 2A Eastern Regional at either 7 or 8:30 p.m. in Minges Arena. If the Vikings advance to the Eastern Regional final, that game is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 6.

The iPod shuffle

What You Give — Tesla

Again — Lenny Kravitz

Crazy For This Girl — Evan & Jaron

Dirty White Boy — Foreigner

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart — Elton John & Kiki Dee

ECU baseball ticket drawing

So much for the lack of interest in our ECU baseball ticket drawing; we had four entrants for today’s 3 p.m. game, three for tomorrow’s 2 p.m. game and eight for Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale. All of the games are against South Carolina.

Here are the winners, as drawn by the lovely and talented Chris Lavender:

  • Today: Michael Goff
  • Saturday: Andrew Beamon
  • Sunday: Jason Wade

I will be trying to contact you guys, but if you know these dudes, congratulate them. You will need to pick up your tickets at the front desk of The Free Press by 5:30 p.m. today (well, except for Goff), but Coach Wade, I can bring your tickets to the KHS-Beddingfield game tonight, if you prefer.

Congratulations! Don’t forget that I have four tickets to all of the ECU home baseball games all season.

Morning News Report; Feb. 25, 2010

VIKINGS DEFEAT BLUE DEVILS

Kinston jumped out to a 40-19 halftime lead on its way to a 72-45 win against South Lenoir in the second round of the 2A state playoffs on Wednesday at Viking Gym.

The Vikings advance to a sectional championship game, where they will host the Wilson Beddingfield J.T. Tribulas at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Tribulas defeated Elizabeth City Northeastern 72-62 on Wednesday.

Friday’s game will be the fourth time this season the Tribulas and Vikings have met; Kinston has won the previous three match-ups.

My take: Well, it wasn’t as close as I thought it would be, but there were spurts where South Lenoir played with Kinston. As the final score indicates, though, there weren’t enough.

In the advance for last night’s game, Ryan Herman quoted South Lenoir coach Vance Wade said Kinston’s loss to Farmville Central on Senior Night at Viking Gym seems to have awakened the Vikings. I think Coach Wade is right.

I’m looking forward to Friday’s game, which will be Kinston’s final game in Lenoir County in the 2009-2010 season, regardless of what happens against Beddingfield. The Vikings have defeated the Bruins three times this season, two in very close games and we all know it’s hard to beat a team four times in one season.

Last thought on South Lenoir’s great season: Congratulations to Wade for his spectacular coaching performance this year. Also, many props to former coach Jimmy Smith for leaving Wade a not-so-empty cupboard. Reminds me of when Greene Central baseball coach Rabbit Fulghum left his successor, Russell Brann, with a championship-level team instead of with a stripped squad. Great job, Devils.

ATTENDANCE FALTERING AT DEAN DOME

Not only is North Carolina losing basketball games on the court – the Tar Heels are losing fans, too, it seems.

My take: Don’t you lose 25 percent of your fan base after a couple of years of losing? I know UNC fans are spoiled — I get it. But giving up on your team less than a year after winning the national championship? I daresay Duke wouldn’t suffer the same thing, although their arena is half the size of the Dean Dome.

And I’ll say this: I’m a Virginia fan and will be at the Duke-Virginia game in Charlottesville on Sunday … even with my God-fearing Cavahoos in a six-game tailspin. I’d give my right testicle for a national championship in basketball.

MAN VIOLATES PROBATION TO GO ‘SPRINGER’

A Lincolnton man violated his probation to appear on “The Jerry Springer Show.” Alas, he was sentenced to three days in jail for doing it…

My take: Fantastic. Now THAT’S a Springer fan!

The iPod shuffle

Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down — Fall Out Boy

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It — Will Smith

Let’s Get Retarded — Black Eyed Peas

Suspicious Minds — Elvis Presley

Rock With You — Michael Jackson

P.S.: FOB (Friend of Blog) Randy Capps currently has an 11-game losing streak in ESPN’s Streak for the Cash – and is on the national leaderboard. I’m not even going to bust his butt, though: I think it’s as impressive to have an 11-game losing streak (and probably harder) than to have an 11-game winning streak.

Nuts and bolts

Several little things, too small for separate blog entries:

  • No one claimed the ECU-Old Dominion baseball tickets yesterday … and no one has claimed tonight’s ECU-SMU basketball tickets. All you have to do is e-mail me at bhanks@freedomenc.com before 5:30 p.m. and tonight’s tickets are yours. Tell Matt Doherty I said, “Hello.”
  • I have four tickets to each of this weekend’s three baseball games against 10th-ranked South Carolina. Same deal as with last weekend’s ECU-UVa tix: e-mail me at the above addy and I’ll put your name in a drawing and then we’ll draw for all three sets at 10 a.m. on Friday. Let me know how many tix you want in 2 or 4 and which game; also put “ECU baseball tickets” in the subject line.
  • Yes, I’m doing the PA at the Kinston-South Lenoir game tonight — but that DOES NOT mean I am pulling for Kinston to win. I’m pulling for a good game. I volunteer my time to do the KHS PA — I do not get paid to do it. I do it because it’s fun and the kids enjoy it. I have offered my service, also gratis, to South Lenoir and North Lenoir, but both schools have people who do it. So before you come on the blog tonight or tomorrow busting my chops about me pulling for one school or another, know the facts. NOW, if Kinston or South Lenoir is playing Wilson Beddingfield (or any other non-Lenoir County school) — yes, I will be pulling HARD for KHS or SL!
  • More to come…

Morning News Report; Feb. 24, 2010

IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG: SOUTH LENOIR AT KINSTON

It’s the game you DON’T want to miss tonight at Viking Gym: a 2A second-round playoff matchup between visiting South Lenoir and Kinston. The two teams will play at 7 p.m. today.

My take (and prediction): I’m anticipating a fantastic environment — something on par with North Lenoir-South Lenoir or the Charlie Stevens/Paul Dunn III days of Kinston-North Lenoir. I’d suggest you get there early, too: although the gym holds nearly 1,800 fans, the gym will probably be filled by 6:30 p.m. or so.

And my prediction — Kinston 68, South Lenoir 52. I think the Blue Devils will be playing on emotion early and the Vikings have shown a propensity to let teams stay in a game for a while. I think SL will probably even lead after a quarter, much like it did in the first game this season when the Devils held a six-point halftime lead.

But in the end, there’s too much talent at KHS in the form of Reggie Bullock, Dory Hines, Dallas Best and Josh Benoit. Still — it’s going to be an amazing environment and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

KORNHEISER SUSPENDED FOR SPOT-ON ANALYSIS

Tony Kornheiser was suspended for two weeks from “Pardon The Interruption” for comments he made about fellow ESPNer Hannah Storm and her inappropriate way she dresses for her SportsCenter hosting duties.

My take: I was already a fan of Mr. Tony; I subscribe to the podcast of “PTI” and tremendously enjoyed him on “Monday Night Football.” Now, my respect for him has grown to exponential rates — because he’s right on about Ms. Storm.

The HB and I watch Sunday SportsCenter together (ANOTHER reason the HB is so wonderful) and she has made several comments about Ms. Storm and the host’s fish-net stockings, short-short skirts and tops so tight you can see her belly button.

NTTAWWT:

022410-hannah-storm1.jpg  

022410-hannah-storm2.jpg

Anyhoo — I want my SportsCenter hosts to tell me the damned scores and who is playing today. I don’t need to have to have lustful thoughts about 50-year-old women who need to eat a sandwich at the same time.

SNOW HEADED BACK TO N.C.

There are 39 counties in North Carolina under yet another winter weather warning; none in our area, though.

My take: That damned groundhog called it, didn’t he? Has this been the longest winter EVER?

The iPod shuffle

Shawty Get Loose — Lil Mama

Naughty Girl — Beyonce

FM — Steely Dan

Holiday — Green Day

If Love Is A Red Dress — Maria McKee

Morning News Report; Feb. 23, 2010

NO, IT’S NOT DEJA VU

If you’re looking at today’s Free Press, you’ll notice that pages 7, 12, 13 and 18 are from the Friday, Feb. 19 edition. No, it’s not some cruel trick or test to see if you’re actually reading the paper — I’ve had enough calls today to know that MOST of Lenoir County reads the TFP.

In a nutshell: plates of four pages each go on our press in Jacksonville; that’s the reason our paper page count is always a multiple of four (to break it down for Heelsfan, that means it’s either 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 or 40). For whatever reason — beyond my belief — someone in the press room in Jacksonville picked up the plate with pages 7, 12, 13 and 18 from the Friday, Feb. 19 edition and placed it on the press instead of today’s Tuesday, Feb. 23 edition.

Yep.

I’ve answered a ton of calls about this issue this morning, as have our customer service representatives. 

UPDATE: I have been advised to take down the remainder of this thread, which I have done. Free Press readers: we love you and appreciate you sticking around despite all the stuff you’ve had to put up with over the past few months.

SOUTH LENOIR AT KINSTON: IT’S ON

Kinston buried North Johnston last night, 81-43, while South Lenoir survived Kitty Hawk First Flight, 39-36, to set up an NCHSAA 2A second-round matchup at Viking Gym tomorrow night at 7.

My take: For prep basketball games played within the boundaries of Lenoir County, this has to rank in the top 10 — or maybe even 5 — of all time. My suggestion: get to the gym early, ’cause there are not going to be a lot of seats available.

Sports Editor Ryan Herman is going to have a preview on the game on the game that I’m putting on Page 1 and I’m putting together a story on some of the top games in Lenoir County history (that were played inside the county, so that leaves out regionals, state championships or games in Hawaii, the Glaxo or the Hall of Fame). If you have any suggestions, please leave them QUICKLY in the messages or e-mail me at bhanks@freedomenc.com. I’m currently writing this story, so I need the info sooner rather than later.

RIC FLAIR’S WIFE CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING THE NATURE BOY

The wife of wrestling star Ric Flair was charged with assault after she allegedly left him with minor injuries.

My take: Do you think he said “WOOOOOOOOOO!” when she was assaulting him? Too soon?

The iPod shuffle

Long Haired Country Boy — The Charlie Daniels Band

Learn The Hard Way — Nickelback

It Ain’t Me Babe — Bob Dylan

Dirty Day — U2

Welcome To Paradise — Green Day

P.S.: No one has claimed today’s four tickets to the Old Dominion-ECU baseball game, which begins at 4 p.m. The first person to e-mail me at bhanks@freedomenc.com has them. You’ll just need to come by TFP office at 2103 N. Queen Street in Kinston to collect them.

Get your hot, fresh ECU tickets here!

Tomorrow’s ECU-Old Dominion baseball game snuck up on me, but I have four tickets to the contest at lovely Clark-LeClair Stadium. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.; hit my e-mail at bhanks@freedomenc.com with “tickets” in the subject line. Let me know how many tix you want, either 2 or 4, and I’ll draw for them at 10 tomorrow morning.

A quick sidenote: our Free Press seats are in section 208, above the ECU dugout and they are pretty damned good, if I say so myself. I had a great time at the game with the HB (although the beloved Cavahoos lost on Saturday to the DiamondPirates) and met Frank White and his son, who plays for the North Lenoir junior varsity baseball team. They were pretty cool … except for pulling against the God-fearing Wahoos.

Also: I have two tickets to Wednesday night’s SMU-ECU basketball game. For you Tar Heel fans, Matt Doherty still coaches SMU, so you can go to the game and yell at him and junk.

He might even talk back to you.

Same deal with those tix: hit up my e-mail and I’ll draw for them Wednesday morning at 10.

UWDOB 2010 final wrap

I know some of you have probably grown a little United Way Day of Basketball-weary, but thanks to you who came out to support the event on Sunday. Thanks to you, we raised about $4,400! In today’s fine article by Christopher K. Yates, we estimated it at $4,100, but after adding up all the receipts and selling some more chances at Thurman Pate’s UNC-Duke tickets, we’re up to the $4,400 amount — the most EVER in the event’s eight-year run.

I have so many thank-you’s, although I’m going to save most of them for a special column in Wednesday’s paper. However, the big ones go to Jonathan Massey, who was my right-hand man for most of the planning and didn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves when I needed him to work; Wynn Whittington and Dr. Terry Cline, who allow us to use the Kinston High School gym every year for free; Tommy Pharo of Minges Bottling, who has graciously donated 30 cases of awesome Pepsi products to all eight UWDOBs; Ms. Tine Perry, who has worked the scorer’s table for all but one of the UWDOBs; Thurman Pate, who donated 100 tickets for chances for his Duke-UNC tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium; Joe Hargitt, who donated a $450 pig picking from King’s Barbecue; and those of you who sent me e-mails, Facebook messages and left phone messages in support of this event.  

I also want to particularly thank the legendary Brian North from WCTI ABC-12, who has played in every single game and who had the awesome idea of putting Skip Waters on the free throw line for two shots. North and his partner-in-crime, Derek Bayne, kept the UWDOB all over last night’s news AND sports. Thanks, guys! Although I like the job the other guys do here in our market (Brian Meador of WITN NBC-7 is an unsung hero), North and Bayne do it up right for Lenoir County.

Also, big props to Meador for promoting the event (and the postponement!), the ever-lovely Heather King of WITN’s morning show for having Lenoir-Greene United Way Executive Director June Cummings and I on twice this year and Brian Bailey of WNCT CBS-9 for promoting the event on Saturday. Don’t be down on Meador and Bailey, they were originally scheduled to participate; because of the schedule change and because of the Virginia-East Carolina baseball game on Sunday, they were unable to attend.

It was certainly an eventful day, from the coaches rallying to beat the media in overtime; to Scout and Reggie Bullock playing 1-on-1; to Reggie’s win in the 3-point contest and North Lenoir’s Maurice Morgan winning the dunk contest; to the Munn Maniacs beating the Hawk Krazees in the semifinals and then the Kinston Khaos downing the Maniacs for the student section championship. In fact, here’s a picture of the champion Khaos:

022210-khaos.jpg 

Most of all, thanks to you bloggees — particularly Heelatious and his lovely wife — for supporting our friends and neighbors at the United Way. You have my appreciation.

Here’s a look at the major winners in the student competitions over the eight UWDOBs:

2010

3-point contest: Reggie Bullock, Kinston (runner-up: Zack Cutlip, Arendell Parrott Academy)

Dunk contest: Maurice Morgan, North Lenoir (runner-up: Demoran Garner, South Lenoir)

Student section: Kinston Khaos (runner-up: Munn Maniacs)

2009

3-point shootout: Josh Benoit, Kinston (runner-up: Chris McPhail, North Lenoir)

Dunk contest: Joshea Singleton, Kinston (runner-up: Victor Holloway, Kinston)

Student section: Kinston Khaos (runner-up: Munn Maniacs)

2008

3-point shootout: Reggie Bullock, Kinston (runner-up: Tyler Potter, North Lenoir)

Dunk contest: Akeem “A.K.” Sutton, Kinston (runner-up: Rashee Hawkins, North Lenoir)

Student section: Munn Maniacs (runner-up: Hawk Krazees)

2007

3-point shootout: Reggie Bullock, Kinston (runner-up: Curtis Hines, Kinston)

Dunk contest: Sherrod Croom, Kinston (runner-up: Marcus Hemby, Kinston) 

Student section: Hawk Krazees (runner-up: Munn Maniacs)

2006

3-point shootout: Tyler Potter, Bethel Christian Academy (runner-up: Curtis Hines, Kinston)

Dunk contest: Charles Gamble, Greene Central (runner-up: Quinton Coples, Kinston)

Student section: Munn Maniacs (runner-up: Hawk Krazees)

2005

3-point shootout: Omar Jones, North Lenoir (runner-up: Darryl Jones, Kinston)

Dunk contest: no contest held

2004

3-point shootout: Steven Walker, Arendell Parrott Academy (runner-up: Michael Small, Kinston)

Dunk contest: Montel Jones, Kinston (runner-up: Ben Sutton, Kinston)

2003

3-point shootout: no contest held

Dunk contest: Jeremy Ingram, Kinston (runner-up: Kevin Lee, North Lenoir)