2014 HS Southerns - Saturday Recap

Posted: May 9, 2014 12:47 PM

The first day of the Southern High School Regional Championships saw as many highs and lows as the weather brought enough sun for a burn and enough lightning to stall games in Greenville, South Carolina.

Sixteen teams played in the four-pool boys division, while eight  teams played in the two-pool girls division. While all teams exhibited high levels of play, games in the morning and early afternoon had high point differentials compared with those later on.

Boys' Division (Schedule)

Boys teams who earned 3-0 for the day were Durham, NC-based Carolina Friends School; Atlanta, GA-based Paideia School; Thompson’s Station, Tenn.-based Independence High School and Chapel Hill, NC-based Chapel Hill High School.

One of the most nail-biting matchups was between the Carrboro High School Clams and Brookwood High School’s Inferno, which hard-capped at 10-9 to the Clams. Carrboro’s team had 12 days to pull together their paperwork and confirm its 14-member roster after the team from Catonsville, Maryland dropped out. "Our players dropped everything to be here," said Carrboro Coach Britta Jones, who lead the team to three victories out of its four Saturday games with Coach Heather Zimmerman. "There’s nothing they would rather be doing right now."

One player actually broke up with his girlfriend to attend the tournament, which coincided with prom, they said.

The team was seeded fourth and finished second in their pool, winning three of their four Saturday games.

Eight of the team’s fourteen players are juniors, and many played on the Youth Club Championships, which happen during the summer. "We have a really big junior class that has been playing together, so they’re really starting to peak as a group," said Jones.

The Clams were down 4-7 at half for the first game, but tied up pulled out the win in the second half, which set the tone for the day. "Pulling out a first game upset makes us feel like we deserve to be here rather than we’re just the team that’s happy to be here," said Jones.

Chapel Hill moved from second to first seed for the fourth pool with its relatively young team. The team gave up only one turnover, according to CHUF Coach Geoff Horsfield. "We have a very talented and athletic team, so trying to build that mental game and that mental focus is very important," he said. "We have to beat teams that are just as talented as us."

The single turnover occurred when the team played Yorktown, which rose from three to two seed for the pool but still lost 7-13 to Chapel Hill. Still in its first year, the Yorktown Patriots took second at the Virginia States and ended the first day at Southerns 2-1, winning a spot in the Championship bracket against Woodside.

The Panda Cubs from Arlington, Va.-based H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program also won a hard-fought spot in the Championship bracket against the Bayou Hazards of Baton Rouge, La.-based Catholic High School. The Panda Cubs lost their first game against Carrboro, but the time was well-spent getting used to the humidity and crosswinds, said H-B Woodlawn Coach Jordan Albro.  "It was the first game, so we got the jitters out of the way," he said. "One thing we’ve been pushing is mental strength … it’s all about bouncing back."

Paideia, which also brought two girls teams to compete, kept its seed at the top of the Pool B, meaning it will start Sunday playing Grady High School, which ended the day 2-1 and won a slot in the Championship bracket.

"We’ve had a good bit of success this season with a few bumps along the road," said the Paideia boys’ team coach Michael Baccarini. The team, over half of which is made up of upperclassmen, won its pool with wins by five or more points, with the closest game against Carrboro High School. "We’re starting to stockpile the right stuff," he said. "If we do our best, I think we have a good shot."

One of the region’s rising teams is Flight from Independence High School, which took the top prize in the Varsity division of the Juniors Terminus tournament in March against Atlanta-based Lakeside. With three wins under its belt for Saturday, Coach Jordan Roe said part of the team’s success this year has been adding a sequence to coaching so that players can work on more than just the fundamentals. "We played Paideia once and they came up to us after and said, ‘Wow, you have a lot of athletic players,’ and yet we still lost," said Roe. "We realized we had to change our strategy and start looking ahead…. After the third year, you can’t win based solely on athleticism."

Independence’s Flight will play Yorktown first thing on Sunday.

One of the standout boys teams was clearly Carolina Friends School, which will be playing Carrboro first thing on Sunday. The team won all three games on Saturday, including a 13-3 win against the University School of Nashville’s Brutal Grassburn, which won last year’s Southern High School Regional Championships. The UNC boys team went from seed three to seed four in Pool A, while Newport News, Va.-based Woodside moved up a seed.

Woodside ended the day 1-2 and will be playing East Chapel Hill on Sunday morning. Two thirds of East Chapel Hill’s team is underclassmen, according to Coach Aaron Stern. "They’re attempting all the right things, it’s just getting the execution right, which comes with practice," he said. The team is using this weekend to prepare for the North Carolina High School boys State Championships in Winston Salem nect weekend, where he expects the team to finish fourth.

East Chapel Hill isn’t the only team using the weekend as practice. Half of Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Blackman High School’s team is sophomores, said Coach Robby Owen. "We’re taking a developmental approach to this weekend," he said. "An improvement this season was upping our strength and conditioning."

The team has had the fewest injuries this year than it has in its six-year run, and the team is recovering from the Tennessee High School Boys State Championships, which were last weekend. "If we can crack the code this year, next year will be great." 

Girls' Division (Schedule)

The Sunday recap will include coverage from both days of the girls' division.

Photos by UltiPhotos (Extended Highlights)



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