We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a hop over to Hillsborough to check in on the Orange Panthers. The Panthers tore through the competition a year ago, just falling short of perfection at the final hurdle, but veteran head coach Pat Moser is back for another run in 2014.
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The Panthers were sitting at the doorstep of history in 2013, with only the Southern Durham Spartans standing in their way of an undefeated season.
Coach Moser says he wishes his squad could have cleared the final hurdle, but losing to the eventual state champions, featuring a quarterback who recently committed to play at Wake Forest, is nothing to be ashamed of.
“For us to be 10-1 at the end of the season, we felt pretty good. It was a very talented and good team in Southern Durham. They proved that by going on to win the whole thing. As far as we were concerned, we had a lot of fun. It was a great year for OrangeHigh School. We’re looking forward to this year,” Coach Moser says.
The Orange skipper identified a bevy of teams to watch out for in 2014, including Bill Hall’s Northwood team, defending champion Southern Durham, and an improving Chapel Hill squad.
Coach Moser says playing in the ultra-competitive 3A Big Eight conference is a double-edged sword.
“It’s tough to play that kind of competition week in and week out, mainly because if you’re not playing well for some reason one night, you can lose. But at the same time, playing that kind of competition prepares you for anybody you’re going to play in the states,” Coach Moser says.
The unquestioned leader of this Panther team is senior signal caller Garrett Cloer. Coach Moser says Cloer’s garnering plenty of national attention at the college level and has been taking his own game to the next level in his preparations this offseason.
“He’s [Cloer] being recruited by everybody in the country. He’s a great student and a great leader. I think he’s set the tone for our whole team in the offseason. He’s worked really hard. Our other kids have worked really hard. We’ll see. I think we’ll be okay,” Coach Moser says.
If the man behind center wasn’t enough to get Coach Moser excited for his offense, the guy in the backfield should put him over the top. Running back Tay Jones can flat out fly.
“We have a great running back in Tay Jones. He had 1,800 yard rushing last year. He’s working right now in summer school to get eligible. Hopefully, he will make the grade and be with us,” Coach Moser says.
Pending a successful completion of summer coursework, Jones should be a terror for opposing defenses. But the true backbone to this Orange squad rests on the other end of the ball.
The Panther defense is a sight to behold. In 2013, Orange pitched four shutouts and held opponents to single digits in an emphatic eight games.
To move the ball against Orange is to accomplish something special. Coach Moser says he always prioritizes the defense, putting the best athletes on that side of the ball.
“We always put the most emphasis that we can on the defense. We try to play the best defense that we can. We two-platoon. We take our kids that can run and will hit. That’s who our defense is,” Coach Moser says.
One of the great traditions at Orange is the awarding of ‘Zero’ candy bars to the team after a full-game shutout is achieved. And true to form, Coach Moser says his kids are hungry for more chocolate in 2014.
“That’s something that the kids like. […] They like getting the Zero bar if they can hold people to zero. We’ll do that as well as maybe add a couple more positions,” Coach Moser says.
The fearless Panthers, with their key offensive playmakers and always ruthless defense, should be in the hunt for another conference title this fall.http://chapelboro.com/sports/high-school/grid-orange-high-panthers/
GREENSBORO – The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell 80-75 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon to drop to 23-9 overall on the season.
“We had some chances. We really tried hard. Got it to four with the ball two different occasions and got it three and didn’t stop, but the kids tried exceptionally hard and they’re a wonderful bunch of kids. But we just didn’t play nearly as well as we wanted to play early,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game.
Pitt senior center Talib Zanna outrebounded the entire Carolina team until midway through the second half. In total, he grabbed 21 rebounds, tied for third-most in an ACC Tournament game. Zanna recorded his 11th double-double of the season.
Carolina fell behind 25-8 at the 7:14 mark to go in the first half and started off the contest 0-7 from the floor. It proved too much to overcome in the end.
As usual, UNC sophomore point guard Marcus Paige saved his best stuff for the end. He finished with a game-high 27 points, registering his 11th game with more than 20 points this season.
“I think we can learn from the things we did well in that last eight minute stretch. We played really well. We forced a lot of turnovers and we were able to make things happen with our traps, which will be helpful next week,” Paige said in his postgame remarks.
The Tar Heels closed within four points multiple times, but just couldn’t muster the strength to complete the gritty comeback effort.
Carolina finished the contest shooting 41 percent as a team while Pitt shot at a much better 54 percent clip. Additionally and crucially, the Panthers outrebounded the Tar Heels 43-35.
Next up for the Tar Heels will be the NCAA Tournament. UNC will await its seeding and regional location this Sunday.
Click here to see the complete photo album.
It’s starting to get serious over here in Greensboro. Here are my quick reactions so far:
GAME ONE: #8 Maryland vs. #9 Florida State
I strolled into the Greensboro Coliseum for an interesting matchup between the Terps and Noles. I was impressed with the Maryland contingent. They were vocal and you could sense their fans were desperate not to leave their final ACC Tournament without a victory.
Everybody else…they wanted nothing more than to see Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles crush the ACC traitors and give them a rude parting gift out the door. ACC purists, including many seated next to me in press row, were licking their chops at the possibility of a Maryland loss.
All in all, it was a competitive first half, however sloppy. Maryland’s Allen tallied 13 points. The Terps held the 34-32 edge. Both teams were shooting at a 43-percent clip from the floor.
Okaro White stepped up with an athletic block that resulted in a sprint to the basket in the other end. There’s no questioning the athleticism of the Seminoles – and their cheerleaders, oh my! But that’s another story for another day.
There were some great spikes in this one. It seemed like a volleyball match at time out there on the court. Mark Turgeon was his usual disgusted self on the sidelines for the Terps. I must say, I’ll miss his sour looks when he departs for the Big Ten next year.
Florida State was smartly getting out on the perimeter, limiting the Maryland three-point shots to perfection and forcing the drive inside – right into the Seminole wheelhouse.
Ian Miller and Thomas were both solid scoring options for Florida State. Dez Wells was doing his best to keep the Terps in the contest. But ultimately, it was the farewell party Maryland never wanted – falling on a last second Bojo dunk. Bojo, the Turtle Slayer!
FINAL: FSU 67 – MD 65
GAME TWO: #5 Pitt vs. #12 Wake Forest
There would be no slow start for Pitt in this one. The Panthers got off to a roaring start – 15-5 with 14:32 to play.
It was a heavy dose of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna for the Panthers. Tyler Cavanaugh sniping three-pointers is a necessary ingredient to the Demon Deacons. And speaking of Demon Deacons, their mascot has some sick dance moves!
Wake Forest’s players, however, were not quite as enthusiastic as the mascot and cheerleaders. They seemed lethargic, sluggishly getting back on defense and not running solid offense.
Zanna and Patterson duo were proving too much for the Deac defense to handle. At the intermission, the Panthers held the 39-25 lead.
It was an epic halftime show. The mascots of all the ACC teams took over the floor and put on a zany, entertaining display of hoops. The Pitt dance team wasn’t too bad either.
The pace definitely quickened in the second half of play. The energy was ratcheted up for both squads, but again, Patterson was still Patterson. And his speciality was shredding the Demon Deacon defense.
The game got uglier and uglier by the minute, with Wake trailing by as many as 26 points midway through the second half. Head Coach Bzdelik’s funeral procession had begun.
Things got so out of hand that the fans all left for early happy hour and dinner. You could hear individual shouts from the crowd. Patterson finished with 24 points and sat the bench the final minutes.
In the end, Pitt advanced seamlessly on to the quarterfinals and a date with North Carolina.
FINAL: Pitt 84 – Wake Forest 55
The No. 15 North Carolina baseball team pulled out a 2-1 series win over ACC newcomer Pittsburgh last weekend at Boshamer Stadium to improve to 10-4 on the season.
Benton Moss and Trent Thornton produced two solid starts on the mound for the Tar Heels in the double-header on Saturday. Foul weather on Friday prompted a postponement of Friday’s game.
Freshman Zac Gallen allowed four earned runs in his Sunday start that saw Pitt claim a 6-4 win to avoid the sweep.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a busy midweek schedule. UNC hosts George Mason Tuesday and Gardner Webb Wednesday. Both games start at 4 p.m.
The Tar Heels come into the matchup on a roll, winners of seven straight. The Panthers enter the contest off a tough extra innings loss to Western Kentucky.
Right-handed ace Trent Thornton will start on the mound for Carolina Friday. Thornton currently boasts a 3-0 record and a 1.33 ERA with 22 strikeouts.
Benton Moss has registered a 2.49 ERA this year and is coming off of a complete-game performance against North Florida on March 1. Moss will get the start on Saturday.
The freshman bats will need to continue to stay hot this weekend against the Panthers. Freshman Wood Myers is leading the team offensively with a .390 average in the leadoff spot.
Last season, Pittsburgh was 4-3 against nationally ranked competition, but Friday will mark the first career game between the Tar Heels and the Panthers.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday afternoon in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-baseball-opens-acc-campaign-pittsburgh-weekend-series/
In a back-and-forth game, the Orange Panthers never trailed and advanced to the East Regional Final with a 69-56 defeat of West Brunswick Wednesday night.
The Panthers got out to a hot start and took an 18-10 lead into the second quarter. The Trojans brought it back to a five-point difference early in the second, but turnovers got the better of them, and the Panthers extended the lead to 11 mid-way through the frame.
Orange continued the run before halftime and took the 37-22 lead into the locker room.
However, West Brunswick showed its fight to stay alive in the postseason nearly doubling its first-half score and outscoring Orange 21-12 in the third. The Panthers held on to a six-point lead with one quarter remaining.
The Orange defense came up big late in the game, and the offense capitalized. The Panthers pulled away to a double-digit lead again and held on for the 13-point win.
Orange’s Jawan Chambers led all players with 18 points. J.D. Brooks and Eryk Brandon-Dean followed him with 16 points each. The Panthers shot 55.8 percent from the field and held the Trojans to 37.9 percent.
In the first regional semifinal, Hunt used 61.5-percent shooting from the field in the second half to pull away and take the 68-60 defeat of Havelock.
Tipoff between Orange and Hunt is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Saturday in Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville. You can hear all the action of the East Regional Final on Chapelboro.com.
HILLSBOROUGH – The NCHSAA East Regional’s No. 1 seed Orange proved just why it was given that seeding with an 86-78 defeat of rival and No. 9 seed Eastern Alamance. However, the Eagles never gave up and tested just how long the Panthers could hold on.
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HILLSBOROUGH – J.D. Brooks and Tay Jones were a dynamic duo Friday night, powering the Orange High boys basketball team to an 86-78 defeat of Eastern Alamance in the third round of the 3A NCHSAA state playoffs.
Click here to listen to the game.
Brooks scored 21 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, while Jones added 13 points and five steals in an energetic effort as the Panthers advanced to the sectional finals Wednesday night in Fayetteville against No. 5 seed West Brunswick.
As good as Brooks and Keegan Crabtree (22 points before fouling out late) were for the Panthers, Orange coach Greg Motley said Jones keyed the win.
“Tay pushed himself beyond his limits,” Motley said. “He earned the game ball tonight.”
Perhaps that’s because he was so willing to sacrifice his body with a scrappy defensive effort that helped the Panthers hold off an Eagles squad led by Lamont Robinson’s 28 points.
The Mt. St. Mary’s bound guard was terrific as usual in keeping the Eagles in striking distance throughout with an array of baskets. When he fouled out on a reach-in with just more than four minutes left; Eastern Alamance’s chances were seriously damaged, however.
Jones saw to that with a slam dunk and a pair of free throws, while Brooks followed up his own miss at the charity stripe with a slam dunk to make it 80-75 with just less than two minutes remaining.
The Eagles were doomed thanks to some late turnovers and awful shooting behind the arc (4 of 31), while the Panthers were a more efficient 6 of 13.
Orange stormed out to a 16-4 lead midway through the first quarter, though Eastern Alamance closed out the stanza with an 11-5 run to make it 21-15.
Malcolm Summers got the Mebane-area squad within a hoop at 29-27 with a slam dunk in the second quarter. The Panthers quickly roared back to build a double-digit advantage as Crabtree took over offensively.
Brooks and Jones also keyed a third quarter run with consecutive slam dunks as Orange built a 70-55 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Jones said a raucous home crowd helped Orange throughout the contest.
“I was focused and hyped, it was the crowd,” Jones said. “I also love playing with all my teammates.”
2014 NCHSAA State Playoffs
3A Boys’ Bracket
Two Chapelboro teams remain in the 3A NCHSAA girls’ and boys’ state basketball playoffs, and Friday night, the fight for the sectional finals is on.
The Chapel Hill girls are unbeaten through 28 games and aren’t showing any signs of letting up. While averaging 40-plus-point wins this season, the Tigers are averaging 53-point margins after two wins.
The No. 9-seeded Northern Guilford Nighthawks head to Chapel Hill Friday for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff in round three of the state playoffs. Tickets are $6.00 per person and can be purchased at the door.
The big rivalry game takes place in Hillsborough as the No. 1-seeded Orange Panthers host the No. 9-seeded Eastern Alamance Eagles.
The schools are separated by just 13 miles along highway 70.
The Eagles have two scoring threats—one who’s scoring 25 points per game. If the Panthers can shut down senior Lamont Robinson, they could be well on their way to the sectional finals mid-next week.
Tipoff between Orange and Eastern Alamance is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. WCHL Championship Sports will be on hand to broadcast with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are also $6.00 and can be purchased at the door.
HILLSBOROUGH – The 3A NCHSAA East Regional No. 1-seeded Orange Panthers held off the No. 16-seeded Chapel Hill Tigers to advance to the 3rd round of the playoffs, 72-63.
The Panthers meet their bitter rivals, the No. 9-seeded Eastern Alamance Eagles, Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Hillsborough.
***Listen to the CHHS at OHS Game***
Click here to read the game recap of this and other second-round games of Chapelboro teams.http://chapelboro.com/high-school-basketball/hs-boys-basketball-orange-72-chapel-hill-63/