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For fans of historical precedents, the 2017-18 basketball season in The Wilson Times readership area did not disappoint. However, admirers of consistency and the status quo were far from empty handed.
Consistency was served as 16 area teams qualified for postseason play in some form, an increase of two over the last two seasons. Thirteen squads had records of .500 or better.
Moreover, the historical record will appreciate the efforts put forth during the 2017-18 season. Greenfield School senior Coby White, a McDonald’s All-American bound for the University of North Carolina, became the first boys player to win three Times Player of the Year awards in concluding his prep career, leading the Knights back to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A title game. At Hunt, a lonely number on the girls basketball placard was finally given a new friend, as the Lady Warriors won a conference championship for the first time since 1985.
Greene Central, after years of languishing in a boys basketball wilderness, emerged from the quagmire under head coach Charles Harris and played on a North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship stage for the first time.
Back at Greenfield, signs of success were not isolated to the boys roster. Under the direction of head coach Bruce Wall, the Lady Knights returned to the playoffs and won their first postseason contest since 2011. Community Christian’s Mark Kent took over the Lady Cyclones and directed CCS to a winning record and a postseason appearance.
Wilson Preparatory Academy, playing its first season with a varsity schedule, produced a winning record and won the first home boys playoff game in school history.
Ten of the 24 players on the 2017-18 Wilson Times All-Area team are repeat selections, led by Fike High senior Jada Lee, who was selected to the All-Area rolls in all four seasons of her high school career.
Here are the 2017-18 Wilson Times All-Area Teams.
White, a dynamic scorer that can inflict damage at all three levels of the defense, ended his career by passing Eastern Alamance’s JamesOn Curry as North Carolina’s all-time leading career scorer with 3,511 points. He nearly averaged a triple double, amassing 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists and just over three steals. White, a three-time All-Area selection and Player of the Year in each appearance, also broke the John Wall Holiday Invitational scoring record with 119 points, topping former North Carolina and Garner star Donald Williams.
McCadden, White’s running mate at guard for the Knights, was a double-double machine for Greenfield. Bound for Georgia Southern University, McCadden averaged 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists per contest while aggressively attacking and securing rebounds. A repeat selection to the Times All-Area team, McCadden eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for his career.
Greene Central yielded two repeat selections in senior DonQuez Davis and junior Imajae Dodd. Davis, who never shied away from taking the critical shot in a game’s waning moments from the point guard spot, had 13 points, three rebounds, three steals and four assists per contest. Dodd, drawing the interest of NCAA Division I schools, was a double-double presence on the low block for the Rams. He averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a pair of assists per game for Greene Central, who lost to Marshville Forest Hills 63-59 in the NCHSAA 2-A title game.
SouthWest Edgecombe senior guard Savion Staton was far and away the leading scorer for the Cougars, averaging 20.9 points per game on a squad that produced just over 61 points per outing. Staton was named to the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association All-District 3 team.
Fike is represented by a pair of players in junior guard Elijahwon Cooper and sophomore power forward Moses Parker. Cooper, a silky-smooth athlete with the ball in his hands, averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and led the Golden Demons with just under three steals per game. Parker paced Fike in both scoring and rebounding, checking in at 11.9 points and seven rebounds per game.
Southern Nash senior Jalen Lucas led the Firebirds to a share of second place in the 3-A Big East Conference, topping his team in scoring at 12.6 points per game. Lucas also was responsible for 3.2 rebounds.
Beddingfield placed senior point guard Tobias Cooper, who led the Bruins with 15.3 points per game. Cooper pulled down 6.2 rebounds, had 3.4 assists and generated two steals per outing.
Hunt junior Zion May was relentless under the basket for the Warriors in a difficult season, averaging a double-double of 10.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The Warriors, despite their 7-16 final record, won the 2017 Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament.
Charles B. Aycock senior guard Eli Batts was the chief threat for the Golden Falcons, finishing with 15.9 points per contest and pacing CBA from behind the 3-point arc.
Senior D.J. Atkinson ranked as the primary creator and facilitator for Community Christian and head coach Micah Baines, leading the way with 21.2 points, eight rebounds and a team-leading 5.4 assists per game for the Cyclones.
North Johnston senior Tayanna Jones, the Times Girls Player of the Year who will play for Georgetown University, is a three-time All-Area selection. Her presence and length at the top of North Johnston’s defense enabled the Lady Panthers to jump out to a 14-0 start.
Scoring 1,363 points in her North Johnston career, the 6-foot-1 Jones averaged 21.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.4 steals and two assists per contest. Defensively, she contributed 20 blocks on the season as a three-time All-EPC pick.
Lee, the recipient of the Eddie Summerlin Most Valuable Player award of the 2017 Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament, had averages of 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds, while leading the Lady Demons in assists (5.3) and steals (3.8) on her way to All-Area acclaim for the fourth time.
Thigpen, in her role as a streaky 3-point shooter for Fike, led the Lady Demons in scoring at 11.8 points per game and made 50 3-point shots. She was Fike’s second-leading rebounder at 5.6 rebounds per game and is a two-time All-Area selection.
Beddingfield is represented by senior point guard Jayla Bullock and sophomore post Makayla Everette. Playing the demanding position of point guard for a former floor general in veteran Lady Bruins coach Debra Pegram, Bullock finished her career as a three-time All-Area pick. As a senior, Bullock, at 5-foot-3, averaged 13.5 points per game and handed out four assists. Everette, a promising underclassman, led the Lady Bruins with 18 points per game to go along with 6.1 rebounds. Everette also blocked a pair of shots per game.
Hunt, along with its long-awaited conference championship, placed senior Kayla Kent, sophomore Imani Sutton and sophomore Bria Griffith on the All-Area unit. Kent, a three-time selection, led the way with 15.2 points per game. She added 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds as a multi-faceted player that could play three positions on the floor.
Griffith, noted for her defense, averaged 9.7 points while leading Hunt in assists (3.0) and steals (2.5). Sutton checked in at 10.4 points per game and just under four rebounds per contest.
SouthWest Edgecombe combined veteran leadership with promising young talent to garner three spots on the roster with senior Shayla Ellis, freshman Jada Battle and sophomore Bailey Davis.
Ellis was the double-double producer of the trio, yielding 14.9 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. Battle, from her point guard spot, had 9.1 points per contest, while demonstrating floor leadership with 6.2 assists and 3.6 steals per game. Both assist and steals totals led the Lady Cougars. Davis, a menacing matchup from 3-point range, contributed 12.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and made 38 3-point shots.
Despite playing with a roster that rarely crept above six players, Greenfield sophomore Kaelyn Wall guided her team to the NCISAA 1-A postseason, leading the Lady Knights in every major statistical category en route to a playoff victory, often the target of exotic defenses from opponents.