Published: 08:15 PM, Thu May 31, 2012
Vaughan: A look back at prep sports highlights from the past season
By the time this weekend is over, another athletic year will have wrapped up for the state of North Carolina. The final championships will be decided in baseball and softball over the next two days, barring inclement weather.
For Cumberland County, 2011-12 wasn't an especially memorable athletic year, but there were some high spots here and there.
In no particular order, here are some of the things I'll look back on as being the biggest from the past year.
Richard Bailey leaves Jack Britt as football coach. This was a shock to some, but not so much to me. The offer he got from Scotland High School, by all accounts, was something he simply couldn't turn down when thinking about providing for the long-term concerns of his family.
Only time will tell if he made the right choice and things work out for him at Scotland, and if Britt makes the right choice in finding his replacement.
David May proved you can go home again as he guided his alma mater Pine Forest to the best basketball record in the school's history. The Trojans swept the Mid-South 4-A Conference regular season and tournament titles, and came within one missed shot of reaching the 4-A Eastern finals against Wilmington New Hanover. The Wildcats, who won the state 4-A title, suffered their only loss of the year to Pine Forest.
May took some graduation hits, but look for him to be back in the thick of the Mid-South basketball race again next year.
When the dust from the latest N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment settled, Terry Sanford found itself dropped to 3-A, which could be a major culture shock for the school and its supporters. Meanwhile, Douglas Byrd appeared all set to move back to the 4-A ranks, until a last-second falling of dominoes knocked the Eagles back into the 3-A classification.
It's not that there's anything wrong with being 3-A, it's just that there are some obvious benefits to 4-A status that would have been a benefit to the Byrd program. And it just seems the Eagles got a raw deal the way they were shuffled around because of mistakes made by other schools that were no fault of Douglas Byrd.
Bryan Till took over as head football coach at Cape Fear and not only got the Colts into the state 4-A playoffs, he got them a post-season win.
Till will quickly tell you he's not finished with his work at Cape Fear by a longshot, but he's definitely got the Colt program headed in the right direction, and the attitude he's building out there is increasingly positive.
Jack Britt's had some good years in softball, but the run this year's team made was the best in school history. For the first time ever, they reached the Eastern Regional title series, and gave a tough Holly Springs team all it could handle before losing in three games. Many of coach Sebrina Wilson's players will be back next year, leaving the outlook for 2013 promising.
No one will argue that South View's Brent Barker doesn't rank among the best coaches in the county, in any sport. For the second year in a row, Barker took his South View girls to the 4-A Eastern Regional title game, where for the second time they lost to a powerful Raleigh Millbrook team.
The score was closer this time around, but that didn't ease the frustration for Barker's team. Still, even with graduation losses, look for him to continue to chase championships.
Westover's girls and Douglas Byrd's boys had strong finishes in the state 3-A track meets. The girls took second while the boys were fourth.
Westover actually led the girls' meet entering the final event, but had no athletes competing and was overcome by North Buncombe.
Congratulations to both teams for solid performances.
And congratulations to all our coaches and athletes who gave it their best this season. Best wishes for a safe summer, and for those returning, see you in the fall.
Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 486-3519.