Archive for May, 2006

Wall lands Crest job

May 31, 2006

John Wall is the new boys basketball coach at Crest High. He’s a good man who I think will do a great job. Here’s a sneak peek at the article that will appear in Wednesday’s Star.

Randy Capps
randycapps@shelbystar.com
It’s a long way from Salisbury, and it’s been a long time since John Wall followed his dad around a basketball court, flicking jumpers at open baskets while Coach Glenn Wall ran practices.

A journey began there, however, and the latest step on that path came Tuesday in the Crest High library where, in front of his parents and other family members, he accepted the boys’ varsity basketball coaching job at Crest High School.

“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed of since I was a little gym rat running around and following dad’s basketball practices,” he said. “He’s coached ever since I can remember growing up. This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed of and I’m going to do everything I can to make the best of it.”

Wall spent last season guiding the varsity girls’ squad to a 14-12 record, and the seven before that coaching under the man he’s following, Bill Ellis, as an assistant on the varsity level and a head coach on the JV girls and boys’ squads.

“We’ll probably have a few more dunks this year,” Wall joked about the difference between coaching the boys and girls’ teams. “Whether they’re boys or girls, young men or young ladies, I expect them to be on time. I expect them to do the things I ask them to do. I expect them to be good people off the floor and I expect them to produce on the floor.”

Crest High principal Roger Harris, while impressed with Wall’s coaching credentials, is more interested in his background as an educator.

“Sports are important to us at Crest High School, but nothing is more important than instruction in the classroom,” Harris said. “John Wall is an outstanding educator and a strong instructional leader. He’s a determined coach. He demands the best from himself and his players. That’s what we want at Crest High School. We want a team player, we want a man of honor, we want a man of integrity.”

Wall favors an up-tempo style, much like Ellis and former Crest High coach Ed Peeler, and he believes that using that style – and keeping touch with the program’s tradition – will be keys to being successful.

“Our basketball program is rich in tradition, most notably (former N.C. State and professional standout) David Thompson and Coach Ed Peeler,” Wall said. “I hope to be able to continue to build this program and maintain a well-respected and successful program that Crest High School and the community can be proud of.”

Wall, the fourth new varsity boys’ basketball coach in the county in the past two years, also plans to continue the Chargers’ recent success in conference play.

“I’m looking forward to going to battle with those two teams (Big South 4A rivals) Ashbrook and East Gaston),” he said. “Hopefully, it will come down to that last ballgame, where we’re playing to get that automatic bid. The sure way to get into the playoffs is to win the 4A and get that automatic bid, and obviously that’s our goal.”

Toward the end of Tuesday’s press conference, Dion Malachi – David Thompson’s nephew and Charger basketball standout – congratulated Wall on becoming the new head coach and told him that he and his teammates were “ready to work.”

Practice, after all, makes perfect.

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Shelby Legion preview

May 25, 2006

Here’s a look at this year’s Post 82 squad:

After being involved in two straight state tournaments with controversial circumstances, you could understand if Coach Mike Grayson and his Shelby Post 82 squad had a little extra motivation to make it to Thomasville for another try at a state title this summer.

In 2004, one of Shelby’s tournament losses was to Garner, a team that was later stripped of the title after using an ineligible player. Last season, a 6-3 loss to Lexington-Davidson in a rain-shortened game in the tournament dumped Shelby into the loser’s bracket and Post 82 was knocked out by Cherryville the next day.

Item No. 8 of the “Tournament Rules” section of the rulebook states that “all District, State, Regional and World Series games are nine (9) innings, unless extreme weather conditions dictate the modification of this rule.”

“Hopefully, we can get back to the state championship,” Grayson said. “I think that maybe we have some unfinished business there. It’s a shame the rules were interpreted like they were last year. The sad thing about American Legion Baseball is that the rules have been in place for 80 years, but we just can’t seem to get them right.

“Every year there’s something that crops up in North Carolina that seems to say we can’t get our rules right. … but that’s last year. This is a new year.”

It may be a new year, but the Western Division of Area IV is stronger than ever with Cherryville moving back in to join Caldwell County and Shelby as traditional powers in the league.

“Area IV baseball is about as good as it gets,” Grayson said. “Every year, there’s Caldwell and Cherryville that you have to beat. This year, Asheville is very good and Pineville in the other league is pretty good.

“Make no mistake about it. Somebody from Area IV will go down there and win that state championship. Area IV is that strong this year. Everybody knows what we’ve got coming back, and a lot of people have us picked fifth. If we end up fifth, then this is a pretty good league because we’ve got a pretty good team.”

Post 82 finished 34-16 last season and a wealth of offensive firepower returns from a club that scored more than six runs a game last season.

Josh Drewery, a rising sophomore at Gardner-Webb, hit .399 with 19 homers and 60 RBI last season while his GWU teammate, O.J. McFarland, was second on the team in batting while providing solid defense from his catching position.

Dusty Quattlebaum, a rising senior at Crest, added 17 homers last season to go along with a batting average over .300.

Toss in Shelby products Brett Wease and Seth Canipe and Kings Mountain’s Trey Glass, and you get an offense that should score plenty of runs and a defense that figures to be stingy.

Pitching is a different story.

After Drewery, who was 9-3 with a 2.80 earned run average on the mound last year, Post 82 has some holes to fill in the rotation.

Daniel Folk (9-4) and Kyle Elliott (4-3, two saves) combined for 23 starts and more than 160 innings last summer and neither is back for Shelby.

“Outside of Drewery, our pitching has not been that great if you look at our high school records,” Grayson said. “We’ve got a good pitching coach in Steve Gold, so we’re hoping to bring them a long over the summer. Just going on high school records, our pitching’s going to be suspect. You just never know. You can bring back your whole team, and maybe you don’t win.”

Grayson mentioned Wease, Canipe and Crest products Brian Greene and Kyle Kendrick as players that will be counted upon to fill the void.

Post 82 starts its season today — a schedule that could include as many as 33 regular season contests — with a home date against Area IV Western Division foe Henderson County.

First pitch at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

KM legion preview

May 24, 2006

Here’s a look at my season preview (a little belated) of the Kings Mountain Post 155 American Legion Baseball team:

Randy Capps
randycapps@shelbystar.com
Last season was a roller coaster ride for the Kings Mountain American Legion Baseball team.

It began with the team breaking ties from Post 155 and taking the field with only one player with any legion experience.

It continued with a 5-2 start that put the team squarely in contention for the Area IV Eastern Division race.

As quickly as the squad climbed, however, it fell just as quickly. The forfeiture of four games for the use of ineligible players resulted in a 3-13 overall record that left the team out of the postseason by a single game.

Kings Mountain head coach Chuck Austin hopes the ride is a little smoother this year.

“Hopefully, we won’t be dealing with any of that,” he said. “It just changed everybody’s attitude on everything (last year.) It just turned the whole thing around.”

The team is once again affiliated with Post 155, and the two players involved in last year’s eligibility controversy — Clover, S.C., products Michael and Steven Holland — are back in the fold this year.

Add those players to a healthy crop of returnees, and Austin thinks his team could make some noise in Area IV.

“We’ve got 10 guys back who started and played a bunch last year,” he said. “I think if our pitching comes around, we’ll be fine. We’re still very young. We’ll only lose three off this team for nest year.”

Kings Mountain products Josh Hendricks, Trey Robinson, Cody Barrett, Isaac Proctor and Luke Proctor form the nucleus of the squad, while the Cort Hall and the Holland brothers from Clover and Jordan Bingham (Cherryville) and Zach Williams (Bessemer City) provide experience as well.

Post 155 will also field a junior legion team this season, a move that Austin thinks will help the program in the long run.

“I think it will help us a lot,” he said. “We’ll have kids playing, we won’t have to cut anybody and we can move some of them up to the senior team if we need to. It kind of works as a farm system for us.”

Kings Mountain began its season with a 12-1, seven-inning loss to Cherryville Sunday night.

Post 155 (0-3) plays its home games at Kings Mountain High’s Lancaster Fields.

Fervor starts early

May 11, 2006

It’s May 10 and I’ve already gotten a piece of hate mail regarding high school football.

You’ve got to love Cleveland County football.

The wrath of the Pack

May 9, 2006

The fastest way for a sportswriter to get an e-mail inbox full of letters is to write anything – good, bad or indifferent – about N.C. State.

My column in Monday’s Star (http://www.shelbystar.com/story.php?ID=1693) has generated a ton of response, most of which is in firm disagreement with my stand that the recent hire of Sidney Lowe was not the best direction for the program to take.

Some of my favorites include:

“If you would look at the person and not the coach; you would see that Sidney Lowe has as much or more true substance than any coach. That substance in the long haul will show people like you what’s really important to young kids. Just curious, how much recruiting have you done?”

“What would you know about style?”

“So, to stick with Sendek when in fact he had ten years to prove himself and
failed to do so is an exercise in insanity. (Doing the same thing and
expecting a different outcome.) To fail to address these issues is a
dereliction of duty and could not continue. So a change was necessary.
You may not think highly of the choice, but many of us who know Sid do.”

“This really is one of the poorest, shallowest columns I’ve ever read. Lest you think I am a shallow Wolfpack fan, my journalism degree is from UNC. Have you done any research on the history of Wolfpack basketball? Do you realize this is a marquee program with an illustrious history and some of the smartest fans in the country? Were you raised in a turnip patch? Do you also realize that Sidney Lowe is associate head coach for the Detroit Pistons? Do you realize that he was the floor general on the national championship squad and that other coaches have been predicating since that time, that he would make a fabulous coach. Of course he has areas of growth, but come on. This is a grudge piece and nothing more.”

“I am not sure why you and others were so enamored with a coach that could only claim superiority over Carl Tacy in accomplishments for coaches who were in the ACC at least ten years. Obviously you never had to endure 20+ games a year of Herb’s slow death offense. Excitement and passion have returned to the Wolfpack Nation. Sidney will have to produce in the long run (which I believe he will). But for now he is a breath of fresh air and it is exhilarating. Go Pack!!!!”

This came from a friend of mine…

“if Sidney can show up with a little more juice to his “pitch” than Herbie had, then isn’t it a little better than what we had (or at the worst, an even trade)? It’s not like we were trading recruiting victories over UNC for an unproven commodity or something … I didn’t realize you were cut from the Gregg Doyel/Seth Davis/Jim Rome cloth …”

Ouch, that hurt…

And the only person who agreed with me that wrote in:

“couldn’t agree with you more. time will tell.”

Well, there had to be somebody…

I love the passion that drives State fans. They live and die with their school, and you can’t help but respect that. Still, I’m not among those that believe that the glory days are coming back to Raleigh.

One thing’s for sure. The Sidney Lowe era will be far from boring.

Who’s space?

May 4, 2006

I guess I’m a little bit behind the curve, but I recently started a myspace page. It’s a neat place to catch up with frends from high school and college and express yourself.

It’s www.myspace.com, and it’s fun.