Area-based team won numerous championships in 2018, extending their success well beyond the boundaries of the region.
The Buies Creek Astros had one chance to go out as winners as the Carolina League’s Mills Cup was shortened to one game due to weather conditions.
An unusually high amount of rainfall was a factor that affected schedules throughout the year. Triton’s football team went almost a month without a game following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. The Hawks had two games that were not made up. The Triton gym had to be renovated due to storm damage.
The Astros edged the Potomac Nationals, 2-1 in 11 innings on Sept. 11., with Florence bearing down on the East coast. It was the last scheduled game at Jim Perry Stadium for the Astros, who will play in Fayetteville as the Woodpeckers in the future.
Jim Perry Stadium also was the site for much of Campbell’s success in baseball in 2018. CU clinched the Big South Conference regular-season title there on May 13 with a 5-0 triumph over Winthrop.
The Camels won the Big South Conference tournament championship in Lynchburg, Va., on May 26, with a 7-5 victory over High Point. CU returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014 with the help of several area players including Matthew Barefoot (Midway), Logan Bender (Triton) and Tyson Messer (Harnett Central).
Among his many accomplishments, Barefoot led the Big South in hitting with a .364 average. Bender was the league’s Freshman Pitcher of the Year, before leaving the program. Messer had seven saves for a 35-26 team.
The baseball titles were among many accomplishments during the tenure of Bob Roller as athletic director at Campbell. Roller announced in December he was leaving the post to work for Shriners hospitals.
The Camels played their first season as a scholarship program in the Football Championship Subdivision and went 6-5 overall.
Midway captures golf
Midway took the NCHSAA 2-A golf championship in the spring at Whispering Pines. Sophomore Logan Patrick of the Raiders was the individual champion. The team, coached by Glenn Patrick, also included Trey Pope, Jordan Sullivan, Andrew Eldridge, Matthew Faircloth and Austin Marley.
The title was the fourth state championship in school history for Midway.
Overhills extends streak
The Overhills varsity boys basketball team won their sixth straight title in the Harnett Tipoff Tournament by topping Triton, 50-46, on Nov. 26.
The Lady Jaguars prevailed, 45-38, over Western Harnett in the girls final.
Dunn recreation teams excel
Dunn teams had an unprecedented three state championships in Dixie Youth competition. The Dunn Majors (12-and-under) captured the state baseball championship in Kenansville.
In softball, the Dunn Angels (10-and-under) and Ponytails (12-and-under) won state titles. Both teams played in the World Series in Alexandria, La. The Angels won the World Series for the second straight year, but the Ponytails were denied due to a substitution infraction when they were in position to capture the crown.
The Angels team included Eva Kate McLamb, Olivia Crumpler, Zoie Godwin, Mollie Bass, Addy Stanley, Aubrianna Collasso, Ella Clark, Kara Beth Benton, Peyton Herring, Samantha Carter, Reagan Adams and Jordyn Christopher. Cullen Clark was the coach. Clay Stanley and Adam McLamb served as assistants.
Members of the Dunn Ponytails included Jazmin Rummel, Harmony Horne, Marley Colville, Emily Scott, Carmen Ivey, Berkley Campbell, Anna Dudley, Ashley Blevin, Aubree Bass, Lilly McLamb, Lyndsey Knoll and Emily Williams. Jeremy Bass was the coach with David Horne and Rich Rummel assisting.
The Majors team included Jarrett Cooper, Hunter Tyndall, Braxton Davis, Wyatt Lucas, Gabe Dapuyen, Jalen Evans, Tripp Westbrook, John Nelson McLamb, Jax Woodall, Anthony Jones, Ross Stevens and Jamari Thompson. Charlie Stevens was the coach with Kevin Davis and Kevin Lucas assisting.
Midway honored former football and baseball coach Tommy Sloan by naming the football stadium in his honor on Aug. 31.
Community leaders Kenny Godwin, Connie Godwin and W.H. Calcutt were instrumental in the effort to bring some permanence to the Sloan legacy which includes a football state crown in 1978 and a baseball state title in 1981.
Sloan helped son Barrett Sloan at Lakewood in football during the 2018 season. The Leopards were 7-3 in the younger Sloan’s first season as head coach and made the state playoffs.
Among noteworthy individual accomplishments in 2018:
Multi-sport athlete Leah Williams of Midway was named the HighSchoolOT Female Athlete of the Year. Williams is now playing basketball at Mount Olive.
N.C. State signee Laderique McNeill of Harnett Central won the 1,600 meter in 3-A track. Charlotte signee Asher Prince of Western Harnett won the 3-A shot put and discus. Josh Polk of Hobbton captured the 100 and 200 meter in the 1-A class. Lakelyn Bass of Hobbton was first in the 1-A girls pole vault.
Junior Maggie McCormick of Harnett Central was second in the NCHSAA 3-A girls cross country meet in the fall.
Delaney Cumbie of Cape Fear Christian Academy joined the program at UNC Greensboro as a scholarship athlete after leading the Eagles to the Final Four in North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A softball.
Kaila Cooney of Triton was the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference Player of the Year in softball as a freshman.
Campbell heavyweight wrestler Jere Heino earned All-America honors.
And as the calendar turned to 2019, Chris Clemons of the Camels was the leading scorer in NCAA Division I men’s basketball with a 29.6 average.