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Central Men, East Ladies win SW 2A Tourney, playoffs next

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High School Basketball

It had been 17 years since R-S Central won a conference hoops tournament, but last Friday they took home the Men's crown in the 2018 Southwestern 2A Conference with a 73-59 victory over East Rutherford.

Central used a 27-9 run to completely take over and win the crown. Jacob Knox, Tyler Whiteside and then Zyrion Wilkins all hit late 3's to complete the comeback. East had seemed to be in excellent shape after Josh Searcy hit a pull up jumper and Christian Walker nailed a corner trey to put east up 50-37 late midway through the third period.

Wilkins, Knox, Elijah Carson and Whiteside each ended up in double figures. Searcy, Quay Logan and Isaiah Lathan did the same for East.

I also hate that Ryan Carson is likely done for the year with an ankle injury. Carson had been playing well during the last half of the regular season for East.

Girls game

East Rutherford has been scoring in bunches as of late as they put up 80 or more two of the last four games. This past Friday, they easily handled R-S Central 67-47 for the win.

Central held an early lead, but East hit five first half 3's and Osha Makerson put up some crazy shot that fell through in a 20 point effort for the title.

Senior, Zyrion Wilkins won All-Conference Player of the Year and deservedly so. I have chatted with him a couple times. He really is a good kid, a leader who takes ownership of that. Wilkins leads the Hilltoppers in about every statistical category including points, rebounds and assists.

"He is good night in and night out," R-S Central Coach Greg Wright said. "To me, Zyrion has proven to be one of the best among this part of the state and kids should emulate him. He didn't even start his freshman year, but he did things the right way, worked, got better and put himself in line to earn that award."

The rest of the All-Conference selections from the county included: Elijah Carson (R-S Central), Arnie Twitty (R-S Central), Josh Searcy (East Rutherford), Christian Walker (East Rutherford) and Jack McKinney (Chase).

I was also happy for R-S Central coach Greg Wright to earn Co-Coach of the year with South Point's Kody Kubbs. I have seen the work that Wright puts into it and I am glad he finally got that recognition.

After winning last Friday, Wright had plenty to say.

"I have a great staff that compliments me," Wright said. "I am so proud of these kids and they proved that hard work will not go unrewarded." They believed this year and they are tough-natured as our tough schedule has helped us battled through a very competitive conference."

Ladies All-Conference

Osha Makerson was tabbed as Player of the Year in the Southwestern 2A Conference. No question, she's the little engine that could and plays bigger than her height. She can dish it, score it and handle it. Kendra Ross (ER), Charmee Miller (ER), Aliyah Whiteside (RS), Maddie Gillie (RS) and Alivia Pruett (Chase) were also SW 2A All-Conference selections.

East Rutherford coach, Larry Ross was named coach of the year with the season's top team in league play. Ross, is a long time coach in the county and it might not be all the hardware they win going forward this season.

The NCHSAA really screwed this whole thing up when it comes to brackets. For example, in the Men's bracket, you have Shelby playing R-S for the third time this year and East Rutherford playing South Point for the fourth time. East Gaston, who doesn't even get in as a fifth team from SW 2A has a better record than seven other teams that got in the West. It's just not right, but life isn't always fair either. We sometimes forget. Central's ladies got a bad draw too as they opened up with East Burke round of the playoffs.

Anyhow, this Friday on the Men's side, East Rutherford could have to play Hendersonville or Pisgah on the road if they are still around. R-S Central could have East Lincoln on the road.

East Rutherford could have to go to Smoky Mountain on Friday and if R-S Central can survive the first two rounds, it's likely going to be East Davidson on the road.

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