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Update from the Sports Desk

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Here is the High School Hoops update. Nobody plays at home this week, but the 22nd through the 25th is a different story.

Men

East Rutherford (12-1,1-0) notched a solid home win over South Point by 11. East continues to use depth and the 3-point shot to stay ahead. It looks like they are going to challenge teams to keep up with them on the scoreboard and it has currently led to a 12-game win streak.

R-S Central (10-5, 0-1) lost to a fairly deep Shelby team last Friday. Not that Shelby is the best shooting team I have seen all year, but size and ability to get to the rim make them dangerous every night. Central has South Point on the road Friday and East Gaston on the road 1/22 before coming back home to host Chase. They go to East Rutherford on the 29th.

Chase pulled off a major upset in the conference opener as they defeated East Gaston 74-61. Tyler Whiteside, Deandre McCoy, Jack McKinney and Garrett Hampton all played well in the victory.

Thomas Jefferson is now 4-8 as they host Lincoln Charter on 1/25.

Women

R-S Central (8-7) nabbed a huge win to open conference play over Shelby, 76-51 Friday. The Lady Hilltoppers are now poised to challenge for the top of the Southwestern 2A, which has belonged to East Rutherford for the last year. They visit East Rutherford the 29th, but have a big game against East Gaston on the road the 22nd.

East Rutherford (12-1) easily won over South Point. East will get a test on 1/22 at home against Shelby. Trying to stop Kate Hollifield will be the question, but East has a pretty slick guard in Osha Makerson to try and defend.

Thomas Jefferson downed Piedmont Community Charter 28-9 for their first win of the season. They will host Lincoln Charter on 1/25.

Chase has won three games so far this season and have lost three by five points or less. Chase will have a good chance to pick up a conference victory when they go to South Point on 1/22.

AFC Championship - Patriots at Chiefs

Well, who do you believe in? The Chiefs are as good as they have been in a long time. I think they are the best team in the AFC, but New England stands in the way. The Chiefs have the advantage, but the Patriots have the historical/psychological advantage. The questions become: Can Kansas City keep consistent pressure on Tom Brady? Can New England keep Mahomes from leaving the pocket?

The Patriots won by three earlier this year and you guessed it, New England wins by 3 again, 30-27 this time as well.

NFC Championship - Rams at Saints

Two of the most explosive offenses battle it out. The Saints won by 10 earlier this year at home against the Rams. It was Michael Thomas that went off for 211 yards, but I am sure the Rams will play a different strategy this time. Both teams have struggles in the secondary, but due to home field, I say the Saints 35-28.

Clemson: I am sure many were not expecting a 44-16 Clemson victory over Alabama and neither was I. Dabo Swinney made the right decision for his football team early in the year and did it ever pay dividends.

He trusted freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence to take over after just a few weeks of sharing the job with Kelly Bryant. We all know the story. He knew that if the Tigers were going to beat Alabama, he had to find somebody that could challenge defenses down the field. The run game, receivers, special team, blockers and defense was already in place. That one move gave Clemson a chance to win its second national title in three years. Don't get me wrong, the defense was outstanding all year. Conditioning, strength, athleticism, coaching, rotations all showed and got better as the year went along. Congrats to Tiger Nation!

Finally, this past week, former R-S Central Men's Basketball Coach, Stacy Lail, was announced as an inductee into the 2019 North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Lail, who is already in the Rutherford County Sports Hall of Fame, put up a 253-54 record at the helm of the Hilltoppers. In a 10-year span from 1978-1988, he guided Central to two state titles. Of course, the 32-0 team will always be remembered. The Hilltoppers currently play in Stacy Lail Gymnasium and he continues to show his support of the Hilltoppers as a regular during home games.

Congrats to Coach Lail, who will introduced as a member January 30 in Chapel Hill, but the formal induction will not take place until August 10 in Cary.

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