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OPINION: Good, bad and ugly

With basketball season over I thought I would highlight some of the good, the bad and even the ugly of the 2006-2007 season.

I’ll preface this with the mention that I can only refer to games I attended and teams I saw, so before Bertie folks start firing off the emails remember that I never saw either of your teams play.

The Good

Judd Whitehead of Lawrence Academy and Kayla Overton of Bethel Christian Academy both scored their 1,000 point this season.

That’s a great accomplishment for any player and to see these two senior leaders achieve it was a testament to their playing ability.

If you read my column regularly you know I’m a former cheerleader and that I pay attention to squads when I’m covering games.

I was glad to see Northampton-East’s squad had improved over last year.

This year they had actual cheerleading uniforms and did a great job cheering before and during the games.

Northeast Academy’s varsity boys were expected to struggle this year since they posted the shortest roster in the conference.

After watching them at the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship tournament I thought to myself, “It’s going to be a long season.”

Give coach John Brown and his team credit for reminding the conference not to count them out.

Seniors Ryan Davis and Drew Pinnix were the obvious leaders, but I watched some other players emerge that I’ll be keeping my eye on next year.

Sophomores Jay Baugham and Hunter Deloatch made huge contributions on the court.

Baugham was especially pesky on defense and I remember hearing one coach yell at his players that “the shortest guy on the court just got the rebound!”

I expect big things from juniors Josh Jenkins, Brodie Harrell and John Pope. Brodie and Josh give the Eagles height inside and Josh is one of the purest shooters I’ve seen.

In November the News-Herald and United Country Joe Murray Realty co-sponsored the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament.

This tournament honors a fallen athlete from our area who represented academic and athletic excellence.

It gave the News-Herald an opportunity to offer a tournament to the private schools to balance the Christmas tournament we sponsor for the public teams.

Thanks to local businesses we were also able to award three scholarships in Nick’s name to student athletes that represented the principles he stood for.

Nick died for his country and for me honoring his sacrifice was more important than any win or loss on the court.

The Bad

At a Northampton-East game during the national anthem I watched a kid across the gym from me sit with his hat on and talk on his cell phone during the anthem.

I watched another group sit and talk.

One young man was sitting but at least had his hand over his heart which I guess is better than nothing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when the anthem plays you stand and show respect.

At the conclusion of every game the players line up and smack the hands of players on the other team.

Win or lose, it’s a show of respect for the other team and should be done whether you like the other team, or player, or not.

At the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament I watched one junior varsity player walk through the line and not smack, shake or even acknowledge players from the other team.

I expect more from players in our area, particularly sophomores who should be the leaders on their team.

I once made a six-year old soccer player I coached go over and tell players from the other team “good game” after he went through the line and said “bad game”. That sophomore needed to do more than that.

Losing is no excuse for bad sportsmanship from players or coaches.

I mentioned the Northampton-East cheerleaders in “the Good.”

During the final home game of the season the pom poms were on the bleachers, but the cheerleaders weren’t until the boys game started.

Where were they during the girls game?

I haven’t asked the cheerleading coach and I imagine there was a reason for their absence but it was noticeable at least to me.

Injuries plagued a number of players this season.

At Ridgecroft, junior Hayes Bryant already had knee trouble but it was her foot that gave her issues this year.

Senior Chris Hill broke his hand.

Both continued to play and both were factors in their team’s success this season.

At Northeast it seemed the girl’s varsity team needed their own doctor.

That team went through more wrap and tape as I think every girl had an injury at some point in the season.

If they weren’t injured they were sick.

The job of cheerleaders is to pump up the crowd and the players.

But some squads need to put new cheers on their books.

After four years I can recite most of the cheers squads in our area do, especially since both the junior varsity and varsity use the same ones as do all the schools in this area.

The Ugly

I’ve noticed over the last few years that girl’s games are getting rougher and referees aren’t calling them as tight.

Some games it seemed the girls spent more time on the floor fighting over the ball than they did on their feet.

I’ve left a few games feeling like I just watched street ball and not an organized, coached sport.

There can only be so many referees at a game and sometimes they miss a call. There have been a few calls that even I knew should have been made.

As I say all the time, if I know it’s a foul, then it’s an obvious foul.

On the flip side people sitting in the stands don’t always have the best view and so they can’t see when a foul is committed.

From my spot on the court I’ve seen fouls committed and called and heard the outrage from the crowd that it was whistled.

That’s why when you watch a televised game they show you things from various angles.

The view is different from the floor.

Heather Odom can be reached by emailing sports@r-cnews.com.