State high school basketball tournaments tip off

Games in the boys’ and girls’ brackets started Tuesday

Josh Hines, pictured at right against Northwood on Jan. 13, and Myers Park are the top seed in the NCHSAA boys’ basketball 4A West bracket. (PJ Ward-Brown / North State Journal)

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association boys’ basketball playoffs start Tuesday with rounds one through four hosted by higher-seeded teams before the regional finals and state championship games are played March 15-16 at Joel Coliseum on Wake Forest’s campus.

Here’s a look at the top two seeds in each of the state’s four classifications.

1A East: Wilson Prep

The Tigers are looking for their third 1A title in the last four years. Wilson Prep beat Eastern Randolph in the championship game last year and also won in 2021. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 21-5 record, including a perfect 16-0 in the Tar Roanoke Conference. Senior Ben Ferguson has averaged 17.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, one of eight players averaging at least five points. Senior David Ellis is shooting a team-best 69% from the field while averaging 9.3 rebounds per game.

1A West: South Stokes

The Saurus haven’t lost since Jan. 13, their one blemish on a 25-1 record that includes a perfect 13-0 mark in the Northwest Conference. South Stokes has three straight 20-win seasons after going 22-48 the previous three years. Coach Jason Clark has led the Saurus to 12 straight wins, led by Barry Hairston Jr. and Isiah Lash — who both reached 1,000 career points this season, along with Korrin N’Diaye and William Tilley.

2A East: Farmville Central

The Jaguars have won eight state titles, including five in the last eight seasons and four of the last five. Farmville Central has won 18 straight and is 25-1 on the season with a 13-0 record in the Eastern Plains Conference. Junior point guard MJ Williams leads the Jaguars in points (16.0), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6). Seniors Tyler Whitehurst (15.4), Hampton Evans (12.8) and JD Daniels (10.0) are all averaging double-digit points on the season.

2A West: Reidsville

Reidsville lost to Farmville Central in last year’s championship game and had one state title, in 2003. The Rams are one of five unbeaten teams in the state with a 23-0 record and 12-0 mark in the Mid-State Conference. Reidsville is led by two sophomores: point guard Dionte Neal (20 points,10.8 assists, 4.2 steals) and post player Kendre Harrison (19.1 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.6 blocks). Junior Johnniyus Sharpe is also scoring 17.1 points per game.

3A East: Swansboro

The Pirates lost their second game of the season and have since won 24 straight, finishing the regular season 25-1 and sweeping through the Coastal Conference with an 11-0 record. Junior Jonah Holt leads Swansboro with 16.2 points and is one of three players — along with fellow juniors Jermaine Cunningham and Tayvion Tangiora — averaging more than seven rebounds a game. All three are also shooting better than 50% from the floor.

3A West: Hickory

Hickory, like Reidsville, has a perfect record heading into the state tournament. The Red Tornadoes are 27-0 and haven’t lost in Western Foothills Conference play since Dec. 10, 2021. Freshman point guard Jamien Little leads the team with 14.1 points per game, and junior guard Jayden Maddox is also averaging double figures with 13.7 points.

4A East: New Hanover

The Wildcats are also unbeaten on the season, posting a 27-0 record that includes a perfect 15-0 in the Mideastern Conference. New Hanover has won 14 state titles, the last in 2012. Two juniors lead the Wildcats in scoring. Rodmik Allen tops the team with 17.3 points and 4.7 assists per game, while Nolan Billings averages a team-high 6.9 rebounds with 12.1 points. Fellow junior CJ Kornegay, the son of former NC State forward Chuck Kornegay, posted 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds before suffering a season-ending injury.

4A West: Myers Park

The Mustangs, ranked No. 4 in the country by MaxPreps, are looking to defend their state title after beating Richmond in last year’s 4A championship game. Myers Park dropped two of its first six games of the season and hasn’t lost since, reeling off 20 straight victories. Junior center Sadiq White Jr. is averaging a team-high 17.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, and seniors Sir Mohammed (13.1 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Bishop Boswell (11.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.2 rebounds) are also both averaging double digits in points. Mohammed is committed to Notre Dame and ranked No. 7 in the state by On3, while Boswell is ranked eighth and committed to Tennessee.

The top seeds for the women’s brackets are Falls Lake Academy and Mountain Heritage in 1A; North Pitt and North Wilkes in 2A; South Central and A.C. Reynolds in 3A; and Hoggard and Watauga in 4A.