Chansky’s Notebook: Beware The Blue Jays!

The Blue Jays are a serious threat to the Cubbies.

Now that Toronto has swept Texas and knocked the Rangers out of the baseball playoffs for the second straight year, are we ready to admit the Blue Jays are a team, perhaps the only team, capable of beating the Chicago Cubs, especially with the home-field advantage the American League has in the World Series?

Toronto has home run bombers all over its lineup, from Encarnacion to Bautista to Donaldson to Tulowitzski to Saunders to Martin – six players with at least 20 homers during the regular season. Their starting pitching is as deep as any team with Estrada, Happ, Dukie Stroman, Sanchez and Dickey, and their bullpen is solid if not spectacular.

Most importantly, after struggling during certain pockets of the regular season, the Jays are now playing their best baseball, hitting their stride at exactly the right time. They won two out of three in Boston to secure the wildcard home field and went to Texas, where the Rangers had the best record in the American League, and won the first game with slugging and the second game with defense and pitching.

Then they went home to the thunderous Sky Dome, or Rogers Center, and outlasted the Rangers in extras to sweep the ALDS and earn a nice rest to get their rotation set for the AL championship series that begins this weekend. Whether plucky Cleveland, or even if the Red Sox pull a miracle comeback, the Jays will be favored because they have the best all-around team of all remaining in the American League.

And getting to play four at home and only three at Wrigley Field, you have to love their chances to win their first World Series in, what, 30 years? The Cubs have become America’s team, sentimental favorites to break the curse of the Billy Goat. And I, for one, will be pulling for them. But I’ve seen the Jays at their best, and their best is as good as the Cubbies best. If that turns out to be the match-up, what a World Series it will be.

Chansky’s Notebook: Baseball In October

The wildcard games were wild; that’s October baseball.

Ever since Major League Baseball added a second wildcard team, the do-or-die play-in games have been tense, taut entries into the postseason playoffs. Two teams, with the fourth-and fifth-best records in each league, playing one game to get in.

This year, the six division races were over with at least a week to go, but a half-dozen teams were still vying for the four wildcard spots. It went down to the last day of the regular season before Toronto and Baltimore survived in the American League and the Mets and Giants, teams with birthplaces in New York, made it in the National. And what wild games they were.

The Blue Jays walked off with a 11th-inning win in Toronto when Edwin Encarnacion bombed a three-run homer while the Orioles’ Zack Britton, the best closer in baseball, sat in the bullpen. O’s manager Buck Showalter has caught an earful ever since for going with an old baseball axiom that on the road don’t bring in your closer until you are AHEAD in the bottom half of the last inning. The Jays go on to play at the Rangers who own American League’s top record in the best-of-5 division series. Boston visits Cleveland to start the other.

The National League wildcard was scoreless in the top of the ninth, when San Fran’s Conor Gillaspie hit a three-run homer to beat the Mets, the team with the best record in baseball over the last 40 games, in their own ballpark. The pitching duel matched Giant Madison Bumgarner from Hickory, NC, against Noah Syndegaard, the one starter left from an invincible Mets’ rotation back in April.

The Giants, who have won the World Series the last three even-numbered years, go to Chicago to play the dominant Cubbies who won 103 games and are determined to break their 108-year World Series curse in the best-of-five at Wrigley Field. In the other, the Dodgers visit Washington, teams that won their divisions comfortably but are hardly comfortable moving into playoffs.

These four division series promise to be as wild as the wildcard games. That’s baseball in October.

CHHS Girls’ Basketball Cruises To Regional Final

The Chapel Hill Tiger girls’ basketball teams’ opposition keeps getting better, but that hasn’t slowed the domination as they defeated the Union Pines Vikings 64-37 in the East Regional semifinals Thursday night.

The Tigers asserted their dominance early jumping out to a 15-2 lead four minutes into the game and forcing a Viking timeout.

The Union Pines offense woke up a bit in the second quarter, but that didn’t slow down Chapel Hill. Mid way through the second frame, the Tigers extended their lead to 17 at 29-12, and Chapel Hill went on a run to close out the half up 39-12.

Chapel Hill’s Raziyah Farrington led all players with 14 points in the first 16 minutes of play; Autumn West tallied eight. Union Pines turned the ball over 14 times in the first half.

The Vikings went on a 7-0 before the one-minute mark in the third quarter, but it hardly dented the lead, and the Tigers snapped the run taking the 48-24 lead into the final frame.

Chapel Hill never relented and cruised to the 27-point victory.

The Tigers shot 40 percent and held the Vikings to 27 percent. Farrington scored a team-high 16 points. Catherine Romaine tallied 14 and West scored a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Vikings’ Nyona Shields led all players with 18 points.

With the win, Chapel Hill advances to the East Regional final Saturday at 12:00 noon. The Tigers face the West Craven Eagles in Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville. The only loss for the Eagles this season came by the hands of the Tigers 76-52 in the High School OT Holiday Tournament on December 27.

WCHL Championship Sports will be in Fayetteville for the broadcast of Chapel Hill and West Craven. You can hear all the action on 97.9 FM and beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Box Score

Orange Boys’ Basketball Holds On For Trip To East Regional Final

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

Box Score

OHS Boys Seek Regional Final Spot Vs West Brunswick Wednesday

The East Regional No. 1 seed Orange High School is looking for its tenth win in 11 games Wednesday night to advance to the Regional Final this weekend in Fayetteville.

The Panthers missed a rematch with their conference-foe Southern Spartans by just three points; Southern fell to West Brunswick 81-79 in the third round. Both teams combined for 57 points in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans outscored the Spartans by five in the final frame to take the win.

The Trojans tied for second in the 3A Mideastern conference behind New Hanover, which is a 4A team in the mixed conference.

No. 5 seed West Brunswick averages 61 points per game while Orange tallies nearly 70. In the state playoffs, the Panthers are averaging more than 75 points per game.

Tipoff between Orange and West Brunswick is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.

29 Straight, CHHS Girls Advance To 3A NCHSAA BB Sectionals

Four Tigers scored in double figures as the Chapel Hill girls’ basketball team advanced to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A sectionals with the defeat of Northern Guilford, 58-34.

Jamella Smith led all players with 19 points, followed by Jessica Wall with 13 and Razyiah Farrington and Catherine Romaine each with ten.

The No. 9-seeded Nighthawks kept it close early answering the Tigers’ 13 first-quarter points with nine of their own. However, Chapel Hill kept inching away with an 11-8 advantage in the second to take a 24-17 halftime lead and a 16-4 mark in the third to essentially close out the contest taking a 40-21 lead into the fourth. Northern Guilford fought to the bitter end with Chapel Hill taking the fourth quarter 18-13, but the undefeated No. 1 seed was just too much.

The Tigers’ winning streak was extended to 29 with the favorable outcome. Chapel Hill heads to Fayetteville Tuesday to face the No. 4-seeded Union Pines Vikings in the Sectional Finals.

The tipoff time is to be announced. The game will be played in Crown Coliseum. A win there and the Tigers will be propelled to the NCHSAA Regional Final, which will be played Saturday, March 8 at 12:00 noon.

2014 NCHSAA State Playoffs
3A Girls’ Bracket

Orange Boys Advance To 3A NCHSAA Basketball Sectionals

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

HS Boys’ Basketball: Orange 72 – Chapel Hill 63

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.

NCHSAA Playoffs: And Then There Were Two

Just two Chapelboro high school basketball teams remain in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs after round two Wednesday night.

The 3A East Regional’s No. 1 seed Orange held off No. 16 seed Chapel Hill for the 72-63 win. Orange junior Jawan Chambers and senior JD Brooks each contributed 16 points in the victory while senior Keegan Crabtree came on late to hit his average of 14.

Click here to listen to the game.

After one quarter, Chapel Hill had a three-point lead, 19-16. But, the team that’s so good at getting out to an early lead kept its cool and pulled ahead in the second quarter. With a 43-34 lead at the half, the Panthers stifled late surges by the Tigers and advanced.

Chapel Hill junior Jeremy Werden tallied a game-high-tying 16 points, part of which brought the Tigers from being down 15 to only down seven in the fourth quarter.

The contest marked the final game for three Tigers, Shane Turner, Josh Hennen, and Karl Hill, but they take with them a regular season title of the 3A Big Eight Conference and a trip to the NCSHAA second round.

Orange hosts neighbor and rival Eastern Alamance Friday night in the third round. You can hear every bounce of the ball as we’ll have the call from WCHL Championship Sports. Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Chapel Hill girls continued their winning ways Wednesday night with another dominant victory, 59-13 against Swansboro.

The 3A East Regional No. 1-seeded Tigers left no question in the outcome jumping out to a 21-2 first-quarter lead. After an uncharacteristic 8-5 second quarter, the Tigers didn’t allow a point to be score in quarter number three and coasted to the 46-point win.

Chapel Hill junior Raziyah Farrington shot 71 percent from the field and led all players with 15 points; senior Cat Romaine followed with ten points.

No. 9 seed Northern Guilford waits in the wings for Chapel Hill and will travel to the Hill Friday night.

Keeping an eye on a potential Big-Eight rematch, the No. 10-seeded Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders remained alive with an upset of the No. 7-seeded Eastern Wayne Warriors.

Jess Lowe’s Crusaders have a tough road ahead if they want to meet the Tigers for a fourth time this year, though. No. 2 seed Northern Nash hosts Cardinal Gibbons Friday. If the Crusaders can make it into the Sectional Finals, it’ll likely be to face No. 3 seed West Craven.

The Carrboro Jaguar girls’ 2A NCHSAA playoff run came to an end Wednesday night with a 77-52 defeat by the hands of Beddingfield.

The No. 24-seeded Jaguars pulled off the biggest upset of the first round with a ten-point defeat of the No. 9-seeded Red Springs Red Devils. However, No. 8 seed Beddingfield was just too much for Carrboro as the Jaguars’ season came to a close with an 8-18 overall record.

2014 NCHSAA State Championships
3A Girls’ Bracket
3A Boys’ Bracket

3A Big Eight Boys’ Basketball Championship: Southern 63 – Orange 57

The No. 3-seeded Southern Spartans controlled the game to upset the top-seeded Orange Panthers in the 3A Big Eight tournament championship, 63-57.

***Listen to the Game***