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Harry Adams

Winning words: Harry Adams explains his success

By Kathy Blake
Harry Adams started a girls AAU basketball league in Mount Holly in 1995. He was coaching at Mount Holly Junior High and wanted some of his athletes to play at the next rung, so he combined some of his team with girls a friend coached in Charlotte.
Someone donated jerseys.
“I wasn’t aware how much it cost. We just jumped into it,” he says.
The team played a Regionals in North Wilkesboro, the first step toward the state tournament in Raleigh and national championships. It didn’t go well:
“I talked to a guy who ran the Wilkes Diamonds program, and he explained that this is a whole different level.”
Adams wasn’t going to let history repeat.
He found gyms to practice in – Mount Holly and Stanley schools, the Mount Holly city gym and, through a friend, Temple Baptist Church in Gastonia. He reworked his program and coached AAU for 25 years.
He won three national championships.
Along the way, he also coached girls basketball at Mount Holly and Stanley middle schools, varsity girls at Gaston Day and Gaston Christian, and basketball, baseball and football at Mount Holly Junior High.
Now, at age 71, his work as a coach and his contributions to the town have Adams being honored in the Mount Holly Sports Hall of Fame with the Community Spirit Award.
“It’s really humbling. In my life, you never think something like this could happen and you never know when you start how things will work out, how God will make it work out,” he says, “but you do what you do, and that’s where my heart was.”
Adams sees his athletes as people first, ballplayers second.
“If you can look in a mirror and say ‘I did my best,’ that’s good enough for me as a coach. I was able to win with a lot of kids with that presentation, and I was genuine with it. And that’s the winning piece, when they know you’re real,” he says. “Kids are smart and they can see through the fluff, but when you come in the gym every day and they see you’re the same person, they will play their hearts out for you.”
Actions may speak louder than words, but words can be influential and powerful.
Listen to some philosophies from Adams.
On coaching:
“It’s something that I think has to be a God-given gift to work with kids like that because you have to be committed and you have to give up a lot in order to do it. I got gratitude out of seeing kids get better. They come out and try to get a grasp of what’s going on, but if they work hard they can get better. Oh, they may not be the best, but if you love what you do, you can get better.”
On being a leader:
“Everybody who came into our program, I sat with the parent and the child and said this is a team organization, and all our players are not on the same level but we play as a team. If you have any questions, don’t ask anyone else, ask me. I tell them that so there wouldn’t be any junk, and I was able to be successful. I know how things can be when you deal with kids, so everything went through me. You want to blame someone? Blame me. And it works.”
On players who aren’t their team’s best:
“It’s a learning tool for them. Be patient. Great athletes are easy to coach, but when a kid comes along who isn’t that great, it’s a lesson. I pride myself in trying to get that kid to grow as an athlete and as a person. You don’t just throw that kid out and get someone better to play, you develop that kid.”
On player mistakes and last-second losses:
“I can’t tell you how many times, in a critical game… A kid knows when they should have done something and it didn’t work out, and you have to let them know it’s not the end of the world and that’s not what this is about. You have to leave it where it is, because there’s another game tomorrow and you might hit the winning shot. This is a team thing. No one’s going to blame you because you missed the last shot. That’s not what defines you.”
On education:
“You can’t play for me unless you have an A-B average. Education is important. If you don’t have grades, you can’t go anywhere with a sport. I put that out in front of my parents and my kids, and a lot of parents didn’t like it, but I think education is important. Only a very small percentage become professional athletes.”
One season, he says a team missed going to a championship because of a missed layup:
“In that split second, when you find out it didn’t happen, you think it’s going to stay with you until next year when you come back. But you have to take that, along with the glorious parts, and learn from it. We didn’t play win-at-all-costs. It’s about winning and learning about life. That’s the important part. Because, after basketball there is life. When basketball is over, you have to start living life.”
His AAU team was headed to Tampa for the National Championships in 2006 when Adams hurt his back doing landscaping at his home. His son took him to a doctor, who told Adams not to get on the airplane.
“I coached from a chair the whole time, and we won the national championship that year. I was in the chair, and the kid hit the winning shot, and I came out of that chair and was jumping up and down. It was one of the highlights of my career, seeing those kids win on a big stage. It was just the adrenaline that got me up. My assistant coach, he was 6-foot-7 and I’m 5-foot 6, and he set me right back down. For a group of girls from a small town to go down there, where people didn’t give them a chance .. and we won.”
Adams graduated from Mount Holly High in 1971.
He and his wife, Rita, have two sons, Marquis and Terrell, and he coached them when they played youth basketball and football, in addition to his work with AAU and schools.
This July, he retired. Some former players still come visit him. He says he gets wedding invitations, and baby announcements, in the mail.
“It’s a real blessing,” he says, “when you see the kids again and they acknowledge what you did for them. It’s so gratifying. You can’t put a price on it.”
Harry Adams
1995-2020: Mount Holly Stars AAU girls basketball
2005: 11-Under AAU Division II National Champion
2006: 11-Under USSA National Champion
2007: 12-Under USSA National Champion
Public schools:
2011-2012: Gaston Day School (24-3)
2010-2011: Gaston Day School (14-8)
2008: Gaston Christian School (12-2)
2003-2004: Stanley Middle School (2004 – 12-0, county champions)

The 2022 Mount Holly Sports Hall of Fame banquet will be held on August 20 at the Mount Holly Municipal Complex at 6pm. Doors open at 5. Tickets are available at Moose’s Pharmacy and David’s Detailin, and online at FameTotheName.org.
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Kubbs

Gaston College hires title-winner from
South Point as its new cross country coach

Gaston College didn’t have to look far for its new cross country coach.
The Rhinos, whose 2021 cross country team was the school’s first athletic team in 50 years, have hired title-winning South Point High coach Kody Kubbs as their second head coach.
Kubbs replaces Jamie Rosser, who in May was promoted from Gaston College’s associate basketball coach and head cross country coach to head basketball coach.
Kubbs, 37, has guided Belmont Middle School and South Point High School to cross country, basketball and track championships during his 16-year Gaston County coaching and teaching career and will remain at South Point as a teacher and boys basketball head coach.
“The idea of getting college experience, building a program and getting the support Gaston College is giving to athletics is really attractive for me,” Kubbs said. “There’s a real buy-in to the athletic program from the school administration and the resources they’ve provided.”
A 2003 graduate of Watkins Memorial High School in Pataskala, Ohio, Kubbs came to North Carolina after graduating from Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, in 2007.
His impact on the Belmont Middle School program was immediate as his first Wildcats basketball won the 2008 conference regular season title and his first girls track team won its division title.
After four years at Belmont with one Gaston County basketball title, three girls track division titles and two boys track division titles, Kubbs was hired as South Point’s boys basketball coach and, two years later, became the Red Raiders’ boys and girls cross country coach.
Over the last 12 years at South Point, Kubbs has become the winningest basketball coach in Red Raiders’ history with 133 victories. He also guided the school to its farthest playoff advance in school history in 2017 and its first regular season boys conference title in school history in 2018.
In cross country, Kubbs’ teams have won two boys conference championships and three girls conference championships and he has been honored as his league’s coach of the year five times. The three girls titles have come in the last four seasons.
His goal at Gaston College is to help the Rhinos become a competitive force in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Region 10.
“I’m excited about what the program can be,” Kubbs said. “We’ve got two coming back from the first team. Since I’ve coached in the area during the last 10 years and have a lot of connections, I know there’s some really talented runners in this area.
“We’ve got to get them to come out and keep running in college.”
Kubbs’ returnees from Gaston College’s 2021 team are Victoria Perez, a 2020 graduate of Gastonia’s Highland Tech, and Rein Norton-Small. Perez was the Rhinos’ individual medalist in all four meets last fall.
Kubbs is looking to field a roster of 10 to 12 runners - five is necessary for Gaston College to have a team score - and has already worked on arranging a schedule that will start in early September. As a second-year program, the Rhinos will be eligible to compete for NJCAA national and Region 10 honors.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get the program off the ground,” Kubbs said. “But with the talent in the area, I’m excited about what we can do and the possibilities of it.”

Gaston Braves action...

The Gaston Braves American Legion baseball team continued their march through the playoffs last week with victories over Shelby and Cleveland County. Here are some scenes from that series.  

Photos by Wendy Simmons

City of Belmont Fall Sports and Program Offerings

Belmont Parks and Recreation will be wrapping up Fall sports registration within the next couple of weeks so be sure to get registered! Participants can register either online at https://parksrec.egov.basgov.com/belmont or in the parks and rec office, located at 1401 E. Catawba St.
Belmont Parks and Rec also has Fall dance registration and gymnastics registration open. Dance can register online or in the office and gymnastics participants must register at the parks and rec office.
Belmont Senior Gad Abouts offers fun outings for those ages 55 and older! Meet new friends and go to fun, different places every Wednesday! Please call 704-825-8191 with any questions.
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Cramerton golf event planned

This year’s Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing is partnering with Cramerton and their Historical Society to host the Cramerton Legacy of Golf Tournament on July 29, 2022, at the Cramer Mountain Club.
The format this year allows for two groups of 72 golfers to participate with both an AM and an afternoon shotgun start.
If you are interested in being a sponsor, review your opportunities for this year’s inaugural event at the website, www.cramertongolf.com.
If you have questions, please call the MACC at 704-825-5307. You can also email: marc.jordan@montcrossareachamber.com, miranda.wood@montcrossareachamber.com or Doug Glenn with the Cramerton Historical Society, dglenn717@gmail.com.
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Belmont Abbey women’s team
earns All-Academic Team distinction

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced the 2022 Division II ITA Scholar-Athletes and All-Academic Teams recently with the Belmont Abbey women’s team earning the All-Academic Team distinction. In addition, seven women’s tennis players were named scholar-athletes.
In order to be named an All-Academic Team, programs must have a team grade point average of 3.2 or above (on a 4.00 scale), all student-athletes included should be listed on the institutional eligibility form, and all varsity letter winners should be factored into the cumulative team GPA for the current academic year.
To be name an ITA Scholar-Athlete, student-athletes must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year and be listed on the institutional eligibility form. The Crusaders were one of six teams from the conference to earn the All-Academic Team honors and 29 additional student-athletes were named ITA Scholar-Athletes.
Belmont Abbey scholar-athletes include- Lily Aranyos, Carlie Davis, Hannah Farmer, Daniella Galeano, Frankee Hendricks, Reagan Sommariva, Anna Steiner.
Belmont Abbey photo/story

Gaston Braves finish regular season

Action shots from Gaston Braves games. (Photos by Wendy Simmons)

By Art Shoemaker
The Gaston Braves have just completed a very successful 2022 regular season. The Braves have compiled an overall 12-3 won-loss record.
There are four divisions in N.C. and the Braves play in area which comprises the western part of the state. Area  is split into two divisions with the Braves competing in the east division of area . In division play the locals finished with a 10-2 record which was good enough for second place in the first round of play. The Queen City Mustangs finished in first place with only one loss.
The Braves were responsible for this loss as the Braves split the two-game series with the Charlotte nine. Fewer regular season games were played this season as Lincoln Co, Pineville and Statesville either dropped out or did not field a team.
The Gaston Braves are comprised of players from the following high schools: South Point, East Gaston, Stuart Cramer, Highland, Gaston Christian, East Lincoln and Lincolnton.
However, many of the top players from these schools play travel baseball. The reason given for travel baseball is to enhance the opportunity to obtain a college baseball scholarship. In the opinion of many, for the most part, playing travel baseball does not assure a baseball scholarship.
College coaches are aware of the talent level of the majority of players. Most likely the level of success in high school competition determines a players opportunity to play baseball at the college level.
Additionally, travel baseball comes at a cost of several thousand dollars a season and requires an additional cost of hotel expenses, meals and travel cost as most games are played out of state.
Also, many family members and most local fans miss the opportunity to see these players perform as mentioned these games are played in distant locations.
On the other hand, American Legion baseball is very strong in North Carolina and there is no cost involved for the players to play. But it should be noted, in most cases, the cost of travel baseball far outweighs what scholarship money is available for these players as most colleges have a limited amount of money available for baseball scholarships.
Getting back to the Braves, Parker Agosta, Hunter Reavis, Chase Stewart, and Ethan Simmons have pitched well during the 2022 season. Leading hitters included Logan Agosta, Caleb Burr, Julian Hall, and Daniel McCellan.
The playoffs for area begin July 2 with opponents being determined at a July 1 meeting.
Coach Kenneth Paysour has been very pleased with this year’s team. Paysour commented that hitting has been adequate. He also stated that pitching will determine how far the team can advance in playoff competition. Coach Paysour added that this has been a good group of players to coach. Paysour says the team has played and pulled together and have displayed a team-first attitude all season.
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Belmont Elementary
Girls on the Run

Hats off to the girls from North Belmont Elementary who took part in the recent Girls on the Run event in Gastonia. Great job, ladies!
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Congratulations!

Gaston Christian School student Anderson Hudson is proud of his ring as this photo shows. His team place 2nd place Raptors baseball. He also hit a homerun. Congratulations to Sanderson and his team.
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Congratulations to the Pinewood Elementary School Dueling Porcupines Robotics Team

Congratulations to the Pinewood Elementary School Dueling Porcupines Robotics Team for an amazing RoboGaston showing in the Gaston Schools Robo Competition. They placed First in the Robot Runs. Everyone is proud of these students and their amazing coaches, Ms. O’Bryon, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Bryant, and Mrs. Taylor.
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Congratulations to Cramerton
Middle School Eagle Teams

Congratulations to the two Cramerton Middle School Eagles teams who took part in the recent Robotics Competition. They both scored high honors with the Box Cops team winning the Overall 1st place Middle School Award.
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Congratulations to the North Belmont Elementary School
5th Graders

Congratulations to the North Belmont Elementary School 5th Graders for winning the countywide Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader competition. Thank you to their partners of East Gaston Rotary for an amazing night.
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Belmont Middle School Robotics Team Placed First

Congratulations to the Belmont Middle School Robotics Team, the Cargo Cats. They placed 1st in Teamwork May 14 at the RoboGaston competition. Everyone at BMS is proud of all of their hard work!                                                                                                    Gaston Schools photo
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Mt. Holly Middle School Robotics Team 1st Place Winners

Congratulations to the Mt. Holly Middle School Robotics Team for winning 1st Place  in Project Presentation and for being awarded the Gracious Professionalism Award out of 39 teams at the recent countywide Robotics Competition.

GCS takes 4 state titles
in Track and Field

Gaston Christian School hosted the NCISAA 3A track meet on May 20th and 21st. They hosted 15 teams from all over North Carolina.  Gaston Christian received 4 state titles. Trinity Hall won states in discus. Madi Freeman won states in shotput Abbey Ford, Julia Ramsey, Gabby Comery and Olivia Van Pelt won states in the 4x100 & 4x200 meter relays. Congratulations to GCS Ladies Track and Field team. Thanks to coaches: Jason Moore, James Ford, Dee Lester, Julian Smallwood & Shameka Gordon.

Belmont Parks and Recreation Jr. Golf

It’s “Hang Time!” for almost forty Belmont Parks and Recreation Department Jr. Golf program participants.
For 18 years, this popular youth golf program is again in full swing for the summer.
Junior golfers for kids ages 6-13 have been meeting up twice a week on Mondays and Tuesdays at Hangtime Golf Range at 3119 South New Hope Rd, Gastonia. A big thank you to the Belmont Abbey College Golf staff instructors and to Hangtime Golf Range for being a corporate sponsor and accommodating the program. For more info on how you can get involved, reach Brian McGonagle at bmcgonagle@cityofbelmont.org.
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Lady Red Raiders soccer action...

The South Point High Lady Red Raiders soccer team traveled to Lake Norman Charter School last week for the semi-final championship game. When all the kicking was concluded, South Point came up short 5-1. However… the team finished the season 23-1 and they won the Big South Conference Title and they were West Regional Finalists in the 3A state tournament. Great work by the team.

See more photos on page 13
Banner-News June 9, 2022 Issue


Photos by Calvin Craig/Superraiders
Photo 3
Veterans from all branches of the armed forces throw in the ceremonial first pitch to members of the South Point softball team during the Lady Raider’s Military Appreciation Day. Photos by John Wilson

South Point belts a home run by honoring the US military

By John Wilson
John.bannernews@gmail.com
Honoring those that served is always a noble endeavor.
At South Point High, the Lady Raiders softball team took it the next level during their annual Military Appreciation Day.
For eight years the softball team has taken a few moments before a game to pay tribute to American servicemen, both past and present.
This year the ceremony took place last week before South Point’s game against Kings Mountain.
South Point softball head coach Leah Brooks came up with the format for the event hoping to find a way to teach her players something about military service.
“It’s more than softball,” coach Brooks said. “I’ve always wanted my team to be involved in the community. My brother was in the US Navy and I wanted to teach my girls something about the military.”
Based on the enthusiasm of everyone involved it looks like coach Brooks and the Lady Raiders are really on to something.
The program that South Point put together was truly inspiring.
Veterans in attendance represented all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States.
As part of the program members of the softball team were teamed with a veteran and given a commemorative softball.
The ceremony began with the players and vets lined up along the first base line. One by one the veterans were introduced and brought on to the infield by their player escort. As the vets took the field a brief summary of their service and accomplishments was read out over the stadium’s public address system.
Before long a line of 20 servicemen was arrayed around the infield from third base on to first base.
When the veterans were all in place the United States colors were presented by members of the South Point Navy Junior ROTC.
After the colors were in place the National Anthem and the playing of Taps was performed by softball player Annie Pinto.
Pinto’s performance of the classic military bugle call added to the reverence of the observance.
The ceremony closed with the veterans throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
The pitch was done in unison with the servicemen tossing their softballs to the players that had escorted them to the field just a few moments before.
After the toss the Lady Raiders returned the softballs to the vets as a keepsake. The softballs all had a handwritten message on them that thanked them for their service.
As the spectators looked out on to the field, they could not help to realize that they were in the presence of living history.
Those being honored represented over 70 years of military service.
The vets gathered in the South Point infield served in various roles ranging from logistics support to infantry. Many saw action in combat zones across the globe from Korea and Vietnam to Lebanon and Iraq.
  One of the veterans on hand for the event was 90-year-old Max Robinson.
Robinson served in the United States Air Force during the post-World War II Occupation of Japan and the Korean Conflict.
As the longest living vet in attendance Mr. Robinson was happy to be a part of the softball team’s effort to honor veterans. In fact, Robinson has participated in every Military Appreciation Day South Point has done since the event’s inception in 2014.
Max Robinson understands the importance of paying tribute to not only those servicemen that were at the stadium, but also those that are no longer with us.
“I’ve been to every one of them,” Robinson said of the program. “I really enjoy it. Some of my old buddies that used to come are now no longer here.”
While this day may have been about honoring the military there was also a softball game.
The Military Appreciation Day was a big success, but unfortunately the Lady Raiders didn’t have a great day on the diamond.
South Point lost to Kings Mountain 19-0.
While the South Point Lady Raiders may not have won the game, they did something even better. They took a moment to give back to the community. And in the process, they touched the hearts of those they chose to honor.
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The East Gaston baseball team is all smiles after winning the 2022 Gaston County Easter Baseball Tournament. This year’s victory marked the sixth time EG has won the annual event held at Sims Legion Park in Gastonia.

East Gaston and Stuart Cramer take spring break tournaments

By John Wilson
John.bannernews@gmail.com
For most high schoolers spring break is usually about relaxing a bit and making some memories.
 This year the Stuart Cramer softball team and East Gaston baseball team made some memories they won’t soon forget as both teams walked away with spring break tournament titles.
Stuart Cramer softball won last week’s Toyota of Gastonia Spring Break Softball Tournament held at South Point High School while EG baseball won the Gaston County Easter Baseball Tournament.
The softball tournament got off to a rocky start early in the week when Mother Nature threw the event a curve ball and adjustments needed to be made.
The games were supposed to be held on Monday and Tuesday, but heavy rain on Monday forced the schedule to be moved back a day.
South Point head coach Leah Brooks and her staff didn’t let the weather out do them. As the tournament hosts, the South Point crew did a good job dealing with the delay.
“I think it would be appropriate to give credit to coach Brooks, her players and coaching staff for hosting this,” Cramer head coach James Brown said. “I know they had to move things around because it rained on Monday and I know it’s a lot of work trying to dry the infield.”
While nature did its thing that never damped the mood of the event. Once the action got underway it soon became clear that Stuart Cramer was going to dominate this year.
The Storm won the title by beating South Point 15-3, East Gaston 12-0 and Forestview 5-0 in the final.
In the win against South Point, Hadley Womack took the mound and pitched the entire game giving up only three hits and delivering five strikeouts.
In the East Gaston and Forestview games, Emma Donaldson started and played well.
Donaldson was in total control against the Lady Warriors fanning eight East Gaston batters on her way to pitching a shutout.
Things got a little tougher when the Storm faced off against the Lady Jags in the final.
In that one, Donaldson still came through in the clutch giving up five hits, but also striking out eight Forestview batters.
In recognition of her strong performance, Emma would go on to be named the tournament’s MVP.
While it’s true that Donaldson delivered a stellar performance, what really made this tournament special for Cramer was the fact that players who normally aren’t in the spotlight stepped up big time.
“We had two players, Madison Lee and Addy Marr who got their first career home runs,” Brown said. “Both of those girls also got All-Tournament selections.”
A breakdown of the post-game stats show that Marr and Lee really had a good run.
Marr finished the tournament with three hits and six RBIs while Lee would finish with four hits and six RBIs.
In addition to Marr, Lee and Donaldson receiving accolades, Braley Hamilton was also named to the All-Tournament team as well.
Hamilton wielded a heavy bat all week ending the tournament with five hits.
Across the board, Coach Brown was happy with the way his team performed.
“Everyone contributed both offensively and defensively,” Brown went on to say. “We had a couple of girls really step up on both sides of the ball.”
On the baseball side of things, the East Gaston Warriors won their sixth Gaston County Easter Baseball Tournament title.
The annual classic held at Sims Legion Park has a long tradition dating back to 1987.
The last time the Warriors won the county championship was in 2016.
This year East Gaston got it done playing their version of small-ball. An offensive philosophy that emphasizes placing runners on base and then advancing them into scoring position.
East Gaston got their first win of the tournament on Monday with a big 13-3 blowout of Bessemer City.
Bryce Benson got the start and did a good job in three innings of action. The junior hurler got the win without giving up a run. While facing Benson, Yellowjacket batters only managed two hits.
Benson wasn’t the only EG pitcher to take the mound. Gracen Mahadeo came in relief and did well pitching for three innings.
While Bryce Benson did a good job on the mound, he did even better swinging a bat. Benson went 3-for-3 and led the team in batting.

In the second game of the tournament East Gaston held off a late rally by Forestview to walk away with an 8-4 win. One of the keys to the victory was a strong sixth inning performance where the Warriors scored four runs.
Right hander Elijah Sutherland got the start and managed to hold his own. In well over five innings of play. Sutherland allowed four runs on seven hits. He also struck out four Forestview batters.
Sutherland got a little bit of help toward the end of the game when Dylan Howell came in and pitched for one and one-third innings in a relief role.
In the Forestview game, EG’s top batter was Logan Agosta. Agosta finished the game with a .750 batting average by going 3-for-4.
In the championship game, the Warriors took on a familiar foe when they faced off with the North Gaston Wildcats.
The last time the Warriors and Wildcats played was in March. In that one North Gaston blanked EG 5-0.
In the re-match East Gaston got a bit of payback when Parker Agosta took the mound and decimated the Wildcat batting lineup.
Agosta had a sensational game striking out 11 batters while only giving up one hit and no runs in over seven innings of action.
In addition to pitching well Parker joined his brother Logan Agosta, Dylan Howell, Liam Brady and Daniel McClellan in churning out multiple hits to power the East Gaston offense. In all the Warriors belted out 11 hits.
Winning the county championship is a big deal. Head coach Randy Sellers and his squad did a heck of a job this year.
“I’m very proud of our team’s preparation, focus and play during the tournament,” coach Sellers said. “Their effort and intensity while pulling for their teammates was instrumental in winning the championship.”
This week East Gaston and Cramer will get back to regular season action.
The Warriors have games this week against R-S Central and North Gaston while Cramer plays Ashbrook and Kings Mountain.
See more photos on  page 11
(Banner-News April 28, 2022 Issue)

 

Summer camp signup

Looking for a summer camp for your kids? Come join the Entrepreneurial Mindset Summer Camp! Rowing & Robotics. This is a G.E.M. Class camp sponsored by The Community Policing Project & Techworks Gaston. This camp will prove to be exciting as it brings together Kids, Community & Police to learn Team Building with an “Entrepreneurial Mindset.”
Spots are filling up fast so don’t wait! Visit https://fanlink.to/RowingRoboticsRegistration2022
to sign-up or stop by TechWorks Gaston at 52A Ervin Street, Belmont, NC 28012.
The Camp “kick off” will be Saturday, June 11, 2022 with “Movie Night” at Techworks, with the movie “A Most Beautiful Thing.” The true story of an unlikely American High School Rowing Team. 7pm to 930PM.
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Mt. Holly Parks and Rec. holds Easter egg hunt

Last Wednesday the Mt. Holly Parks and Rec. Dept. held its first Easter egg hunt in two years at Tuck Park. A big crowd showed up and the dash was on for toy-filled plastic eggs. 

See more photos on page 16 of this week's issue (April 21, 2022)

Photos by Alan Hodge

 
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The Keep Belmont Beautiful plant sale will be part of the Living History Day scene. Photo by Alan Hodge

Belmont Historical Society plans “Living History Day” event

The Belmont Historical Society will be hosting their annual “Living History Day” event  on Saturday, April 30th at the museum, located at 40 Catawba Street, Belmont, NC.
The event will be held from 10:00am-1:00 pm.  The three main museum buildings will be open for touring;  the 1899 Robert L. Stowe Home, the 1899 Free standing kitchen/cooks quarters  and the restored 1930’s textile mill house. On the grounds will be many different exhibitors including: Piedmont Fiber Guild, Military Memorabilia, Basket Weaving: Nancy Duffie, Ancestor: Gary Griffin  from family of the 1916 Flood of Western North Carolina, Local Authors:Dixie Abernathy and Gloria Sloan, Gaston County Beekeepers Association, Children’s activity. The main house will feature new displays Belmont Police Department memorabilia and Carolina Pottery.
Please come and bring the family to learn about Belmont’s past. The event is free.
Included also on the 30th will be a Plant Sale, sponsored by Keep Belmont Beautiful.  Lovely hanging baskets and pots of Supertunia’s. Preorder if interested.  Herbs will be available for sale on day of event.
For more information, contact Elizabeth 704-813-2648.
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City of Lowell  2nd annual spring Litter Sweep

On Saturday, April 2, the City of Lowell held its 2nd annual spring Litter Sweep. Volunteers filled about 20-25 trash bags with litter from areas around Lowell and at the city limits. Thank you to all the volunteers.  The next cleanup opportunity which will be the fall River Sweep event.
 

East Gaston still has shot
at conference championship

By John Wilson
John.bannernews@gmail.com
Going into last week the East Gaston baseball team had a legitimate shot at winning the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A. All the Warriors had to do was beat the Burns Bulldogs twice.
Of course, that proved to be easier said than done and things didn’t turn out the way East Gaston would have liked it to.
The Warriors beat the Bulldogs 3-0 on Tuesday but Burns turned things around and dealt EG a tough 6-1 lost on Thursday.
In Tuesday’s game the Warriors got the job done with some strong pitching and smart play. East Gaston was able to take advantage of some first inning opportunities and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
Parker Agosta got the start and didn’t make things easy on the Bulldogs.
Agosta finished the game with five strike outs and with the help of the EG defense kept Burns off the scoreboard.
“Parker Agosta pitched an outstanding game by shutting out a team with only one previous loss.” head coach Randy Sellers. “We scored early and held on to win against a very good ball club.”
On offense, East Gaston was limited to five hits but they made each one count.
Logan Agosta, Aiden Cloninger, Parker Agosta, Dylan Howell and Riley Hawkins all connected with hits.
In Thursday’s game the Bulldogs played hard and EG just couldn’t seal the deal.
The Warriors had ample chances to win the day, but they just couldn’t make it happen.
“We were unable to capitalize on our opportunities to score,” coach Sellers said. “We left the bases loaded twice and had a runner on third with one out and were unable to produce. Give Burns credit and their pitcher, Coby Putnam for their outstanding play.”
In the end the Warriors ended up splitting their series with Burns.
Now EG finds themselves in somewhat uncharted territory.
Had East Gaston won both games, they would have been the conference champs. However, Thursday’s loss changed the dynamics of the conference standings.
At 12-5 overall and 10-2 in conference play East Gaston is now sitting in second place in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A with no more conference games left on their schedule. At the moment the Warriors find themselves one game back from the 9-1 Burns Bulldogs.
However, it’s not over just yet.
Due to early season game cancelations and rescheduling issues, Burns isn’t done with their conference schedule. So as things sit right now the Bulldogs hold on first isn’t quite a lock just yet.
In the last week of April, the Bulldogs have a two-game series against the Shelby. What happens in that series will determine who wins the Southern Piedmont.
“We have finished our conference play and stand one game in the loss column behind Burns,” Sellers explained. “We need help but still have an outside chance of tying for a conference championship if Burns and Shelby split or being the outright Southern Piedmont champions if Shelby were to win both games of that series.”
What will end up happening in the Southern Piedmont is anyone’s guess. However, at the moment there is nothing the Warriors can do about it. They just need to see how things play out.
With that said, don’t look for East Gaston to dwell on what may or may not happen two weeks from now.
Right now, EG plans on playing some baseball.
This week the Warriors are set to play in the Gaston County Easter Tournament at Sims Legion Park in Gastonia.
In addition to East Gaston, Ashbrook, Bessemer City, Forestview, Highland Tech, Hunter Huss, North Gaston, and Stuart Cramer are set to compete in this year’s tournament.
“We will be ready to play tomorrow in the Gaston County Spring Break Tournament,” coach Sellers said on Sunday. “All games this time of year have significant importance.”

Belmont Sports Hall of Fame wrap-up

By Ray Hardee
The Belmont Sports Hall of Fame is set to induct four new honorees on April 19, 2022 at Park Street United Methodist Church.  This year’s class have earned the recognition and honor that goes with induction into this august hall of recognition.
Cynthia Hibberts did it all! She took care of all of the court during a time that most people only took care of half of the court. Her parents and coaches always said, “Give it 100% and keep learning.” That proved to be prophetic in the way that Cynthia Hibberts has lived her life.  Cynthia always shows up. She was a four-year starter in basketball, track, and as a cheerleader. In her sophomore, junior, and senior years, she was the Gold Medal State Champion in track and field for her event of choice- the 100-yard low hurdles. She was co-captain of the basketball team and the cheerleading squad during her senior year. She was the Kiwanis Club Outstanding Athlete of The Year. Plus, she has coached student-athletes on all levels with excellence.
Mark Young was perennial MVP in baseball and football. He was All-State in high school football, All-ACC player in football, and selected as an East-West High School All-Star as well. But his achievements were not confined to athletic fields. He was selected as a regular Member of the Student Council and in his Senior Year (1985), chosen to be President of His Senior Class, Member of the United Nations Club, and selected as one of the Who’s Who Among American High School Students.  Mark’s exploits gave him the opportunity to sign a full scholarship to play college football at Wake Forest University on the Division I level where he was runner-up for ACC Player of the Year and selected for the All-ACC First Team as a running back.
Migjen Bakali is the all-time South Point High School leader in career scoring with 1606 points as well as the single-season record holder with 658 points scored. Each of these records have stretched the scoring parameters and will not (if ever) be easily broken. During his senior season, he averaged 25.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 6.4 assists while leading South Point to their first sectional title game.  Mr. Bakalli still holds the N.C. State record for eight straight 3-point goals in a single game with a win over the University of Maryland. In addition, he hit six out of six field goal attempts in an NCAA tournament win over the University of Southern Mississippi that is still a Southeast NCAA Tournament Regional record.  His 47.7 percent three-point field goal completion percentage still ranks as seventh best all-time at N.C. State.
George Kitchen is a Belmont legend- born, raised, and stayed. A local Belmont High School (1953-1957) graduate, George has invested his life in the local community. Literally hundreds of student-athletes received their tutelage under the wise influence of George Kitchen. From Little League to Belmont Middle School and South Point High School, Mr. Kitchen has served the local sports community with excellence in multiple ways. He has even kept the clocks of Belmont and South Point teams in his spare time. As a coach and servant-leader, he has served the Belmont community with excellence for decades.
These honorees are shining examples of athletic excellence and candidates who have certainly earned their place in the Belmont Sports Hall of Fame. The Belmont Sports Hall of Fame banquet will be held on April 19, 2022 at Park Street United Methodist Church in Belmont, NC. Tickets can be purchased for $20 from Phil Champion State Farm Insurance in Belmont and the Belmont Drug Store.

East Gaston High Warriors
met Cherryville Ironmen

The East Gaston High Warriors baseball team met the Cherryville High Ironmen April 6 on the diamond shaped field of play. At the end of the game, rain and the Warriors had rusted the Ironmen by a score of 8-5. Here are some photos from the contest.

Photos by Jennifer Hall

East Gaston Lady Warriors Wins

The East Gaston Lady Warriors softball team also played Cherryville High last week. The East Gaston girls prevailed 8-5 in that event. Here are some action shots from the game.
Photos by Jennifer Hall
 
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South Point tennis team
has a stellar record

The South Point High tennis team has a regular season record stretching back to last season of 86-1. Last Friday’s match/ Senior night had the team go up against North Gaston. South Point won 9-0.
The players/ team members in the photo from left to right are-
Ethan Dellinger, Lennon Miller, William O’Connor, Zachary Cunningham, Trey Baker, Cole Miller, Shiv Patel, Wesley Matthews, Garett Ziemer, Aidan Gant, Dylan Nicks, Brandon Cunningham.
Not Pictured - James Dover, Asher Dover, Sean Gore, Eric Sawyer, Head Coach Sean Harmon, Asst. Coach Tom Cox.
The conference championship began Monday in Kings Mtn.
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Seth Eaves in the booth.

Gaston College alum becomes the voice of Rhinos baseball team at Sims Park

In kindergarten, children are asked what they want to be when they grow up and typically kids say they dream of becoming a doctor, astronaut, or President of the United States. While Seth Eaves’ classmates had hopes of saving lives or making history, Seth had his eyes set on a different path. Seth dreamed that one day he would be holding a microphone on TV and talking about his favorite thing- sports.
Over the years that dream never faded, and to reach his goals Seth enrolled at Gaston College to study Broadcasting and Production Technology. Things have come full circle for Seth as he is now the voice of the Gaston College Rhinos Baseball team as the Public Address Announcer at the newly renovated Sims Legion Park in Gastonia, where the team plays its home games.
This new job with the Rhinos certainly is not Seth’s first time living out his dreams, but he says it has been his biggest challenge to date. He credits Gaston College and his instructors in the Broadcasting and Production Technology program for helping him get to this point in his career. He says Kate Carmody, instructor and program coordinator, taught him everything he knows about broadcast production and what goes on behind the scenes.
 The Rhinos made history during the opening weekend of the newly renovated Sims Legion Park with a no-hitter against Wake Tech Community College. They currently hold a 27-2 record, are ranked number one in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 10 Conference, and rank in the top five of all three National Junior College Athletic Association polls. For information about the Gaston Rhinos baseball team and other College sports, visit gcrhinos.com.
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Gaston College
Rhinos win
double header

The Gaston College Rhinos baseball team played a double header in the newly refurbished Sims-Legion Park on Saturday, March 26th. The Rhinos clashed with the Wake Tech Eagles and came out on top in both games, first with a 9-0 score and then 6-2, in the second game.                             Photos by Bill Ward
 

Gaston Christian Eagles Varsity baseball action

Gaston Christian Eagles Varsity got out to a ten-run lead in the third inning and held on for an 11-10 victory over Davidson Day last Tuesday.
GCS fired up the offense in the first inning. They scored one run when Andrew Payton doubled.
GCS scored seven runs in the second inning. The offense in the inning was led by Tucker Payton, Stephen Stroupe, and Aaron Main, all driving in runs in the frame.
Stroupe was credited with the victory. The ace lasted four innings, allowing zero hits and zero runs while striking out eight. David Nicks and Main entered the game out of the bullpen and helped to close out the game in relief.
GCS photos/story

 

East Gaston baseball and softball are holding their own

By John Wilson
John@bannernews.com

So far things are looking good for the East Gaston softball and baseball programs. As the month of March winds down both squads are showing real promise.
At the end of last week’s action, the baseball team was sitting at 7-3 overall while the softball team finished the week with a 5-2 mark.
All those records are noteworthy, but what really stands out is the fact that both squads are dominating in conference play.
Going into April Warrior baseball is 5-1 in Southern Piedmont 1A/2A play while the Lady Warriors are running just as hard with an equally impressive 5-0 league record.
Last week the baseball team played Forestview and Shelby twice.
They beat Forestview 5-3 but spilt against Shelby beating the Golden Lions 7-3 on Monday but losing in a tough 4-3 squeaker on Friday.
In Monday’s win over Shelby, Riley Hawkins took to the mound and pitched hard for seven innings.
Hawkins gave up seven hits but countered by striking out eight batters.
The East Gaston offensive played well on Monday as well generating eight hits in the game.
Liam Brady and Aiden Cloninger finished the game with two hits each.
In the Forestview game Elijah Sutherland pitched the win for EG.
The right-handed junior allowed three hits and fanned three batters in four innings of work. In addition to Sutherland being on the mound Bryce Benson and Gracen Mahadeo saw duty as closers against the Jaguars. For his efforts Mahadeo was credited with the save.
The Warriors only churned out five hits against the Jags, but that proved to be enough.
Liam Brady, Parker Agosta, Logan Agosta, Aiden Cloninger, and Riley Hawkins all recorded hits.
East Gaston is getting it done by using the talent they have and getting the most of every opportunity. So far this year the Warriors have used a deep pitching rotation and the pitchers that are taking the mound are, for the most part succeeding.
Head coach Randy Sellers thinks the team is headed in the right direction.
“We have been playing good team baseball,” Sellers said. “We have good contact hitters and overall team speed which allows us to hit and run, steal, and bunt for base hits.  We have used a total of seven pitchers in our first ten games and will continue to use as many arms as necessary to manage the pitch counts and keep our pitchers healthy.  If we can focus on playing all seven innings, we can be very competitive daily.”
This week the Lady Warriors saw limited action, but in what action they saw they added to their win total and continued to improve.
On Tuesday East Gaston scored a big 15-1 win over Shelby
Kaden Mitchell got the start and earned the win pitching for five innings.
EG’s top hitters were for Maddison York, Riley Pickler, and Jordan McCorkle.
At 5-2 the Lady Warriors look pretty good. However, what their record doesn’t show is the hard work that went into getting to this point.
It hasn’t been easy, but things are really starting to click.
 This year’s squad is made up of players that understand that by working together good things can happen. The team is assignment driven and focused more on teamwork than individual performance.
“I think we are finally putting it together and playing on both sides of the ball,” head coach Haley Stewart said. “What our team does well is our players know their role. Collectively that helps us win ball games.”

This week the softball team has a pair of games against Highland Tech and a non-conference game against North Gaston.
The baseball team also has a pair of games against Highland Tech as well. However, instead of playing the North Gaston Wildcats the Warriors will line up against Stuart Cramer in a non-conference matchup.

Mt. Island Charter School Raptors lacrosse team hosted the Christ the King Crusaders

The Mt. Island Charter School Raptors lacrosse team hosted the Christ the King Crusaders squad last Thursday. At the conclusion of the action-packed event, the Crusaders had sent the Raptors reeling with a 21-4 victory. Here are some shots from the event.       Photos by Mark Giacomin
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Carr Elementary Celebrates St. Patrick's Day

Carr Elementary in Dallas celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. These staff members showed their green in a festive manner.
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Cramerton Middle School Band receives honor

Congratulations to the Cramerton Middle school Band students who received a Straight Superior rating at the recent MPA Performance. The event took place at the George A. Batte, Jr. Fine Arts Center at Wingate University.
 

Mt. Island Charter School

The Mt. Island Charter School Raptors won the Boys and Girls overall at the March 23 track and field event against Corvian Charter.  The Boy’s team is trying to repeat as State Champions. Trevor Moyer (recent Arizona State commit) currently has the nation’s second fastest 55m time.  The Girl’s team is led by freshman Jaida McGrew who recently won the AAU National Championship two weeks ago in the sprint event. MICS will be hosting the 1A West Regionals on May 14th.                                                                                          Photos by Michael Strauss Studios
 
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Gaston Christian Wins over Hickory Grove Christian

Congratulations to the Gaston Christian School varsity girls soccer team for their recent 4-1 win over Hickory Grove Christian. Goals scored by: Ayden, Izzy, Merrin and Julia. Assists, Izzy (2) and Ayden.

East Gaston swimmers and
divers make a big splash in 2022

By John Wilson
John.bannernews@gmail.com

2022 was a good year for East Gaston Swim and Dive as the Warriors excelled at the conference, regional and state level.
A lot of hard work goes into swimming and diving. That hard work paid off for EG this year as the East Gaston men finished the season with a 7-3 record. They also took the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A finishing 7-0 in league meets.
The EG Lady Warriors Swim and Dive team also did well in 2022. They finished the season 5-5 overall and also won the Southern Piedmont.
Winning the conference proved to be big in two ways. First, neither team has ever won a conference championship since the team’s founding in 1984. On top of that with both squads winning in the same year the program set a new standard that will be hard to beat going forward.
The results were something head coach Roger Hawkins is very proud of.
“It was a huge deal for the coaches and the team,” Hawkins said. “We had never done it before. It was great for the seniors.”
This year the Warriors dominated in many areas. East Gaston won the conference and regional championships in the Men’s 200 Medley Relay and the Men’s 200 Freestyle Relay.
While it was clear that the team shined, several swimmers and divers did well on an individual level earning an impressive haul of medals and accolades.
Junior Clay Harper earned a conference title in the One Meter Dive while fellow junior Jake Simpson and freshman Carter Johnson earned conference championships in swimming. Johnson in the 100 Meter Breaststroke and Simpson in the 100 Meter Backstroke and 100 Meter Butterfly.
This year Jake Simpson received an additional honor as well. He was awarded the Southern Piedmont Male Conference Swimmer of the Year.
What makes Johnson’s performance this season stand out is the fact that he is only a freshman. Seeing an under classmen distinguish himself the way Carter has is impressive to say the least.
For the Lady Warriors, sophomore Adelee Stewart delivered this year. Stewart won a conference championship in the 100 Meter Breaststroke.
Simpson and Harper would go on to win regional championships as well in swimming and diving.
Harper had the best year by far. He earned a regional silver and became a bronze medalist at the state championship in the One-Meter Dive.
Simpson was a regional gold and also earned a state medal finishing fourth in the 100 Meter Backstroke.
In addition to those that shined at the conference, regional, and state level, several EG swimmers significantly contributed to the success the team has enjoyed this year.
Bryson Jones, Ethan Hilderbran, Aiden Cloninger, Luke Moore, Tate Hawkins and Wyatt Chaney all turned in solid work this season.
Based on the results it’s clear that the EG swimming and diving program is the real deal. Of course, the success the team didn’t come easy. A lot of things needed to work out to get to where the team got this season.
“It was a big growth year for us,” Hawkins explained. “We had a lot of freshmen come in and they bonded with the upper classmen.”
Coach Hawkins has been pushing for a year like this for a long time. His search for a championship goes back to the 80’s. In fact, he was one of the team’s members when the swim program was established in 1984. He has been East Gaston’s head coach for 17 years.
In addition to seeing his swimmers and divers acknowledged for their hard work the coaches of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A acknowledged what Hawkins did as well. This year Hawkins was named the Sothern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference Coach of the Year.
While it’s true Hawkins deserves a lot of credit for the success of the program, he hasn’t done it alone.
Helping Hawkins is assistant coach Jordan Johnson. Johnson is an East Gaston High guidance counselor and former South Point swimmer. She has been with EG Swim & Dive for seven years. A lot of the team’s credit needs to come her way as well.
Looking forward it looks like next season has the potential to be just as successful as the 2022 season was. The Warriors will be losing some talent to graduation, but a lot of the team’s top performers are coming back.
“We expect to be as strong next year,” Hawkins added. “We are losing some but gaining some others.”

Grant and scholarship opportunities for 2022 graduates remain strong at Gaston College

Gaston College continues to work to expand access to high school graduates looking to attend college this Fall. Thanks to the recently announced extension of the NC Longleaf Commitment Grant, a program that began during the pandemic to help make college more affordable for 2020 and 2021 graduates, 2022 graduates that enroll at the College full-time may also be eligible to receive grants ranging from $700-$2,800 per year. Combined with scholarships offered through the Gaston College Foundation, graduates could get an education at the College at little to no cost.
 The Longleaf grant value is based on a student’s Expected Family Contribution as determined by their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and can be applied to tuition and fees for up to two consecutive years at a community college in NC. To qualify for the grant, students must be a resident of NC and be enrolled in an eligible curriculum program at Gaston College for the start of the 2022-23 academic school year. Over $300,000 in Longleaf grant funds have been awarded so far to 343 graduates that enrolled at Gaston College since the program began.
 Thanks to generous donors, Gaston College also has numerous scholarship opportunities available through the Gaston College Foundation. All prospective and current Gaston College students can apply now through April 30, for priority consideration. The Foundation expects $400,000 to be awarded through more than 100 scholarship funds this Fall. “We want to help students get the quality education they deserve,” said Gaston College Foundation Executive Director Luke Upchurch. “Gaston College is committed to breaking down barriers for our students so they can achieve their dreams.”
Lincoln and Gaston County graduates that have completed at least 15 credit hours through Gaston College’s College Now program can also take advantage of the GC Promise program, which covers for up to two years all in-state tuition and fees not covered by financial aid and scholarships. “Students should be able to focus on their education and training without worrying about excessive debt. We hope all these opportunities will ease that worry for our students,” said Gaston College President Dr. John Hauser.
 Gaston College wants to show prospective students that applying for these opportunities is easy. Any 2022 high school graduate that is interested in learning more about these programs is invited to attend the College’s Virtual Senior Night on Tuesday, March 29, from 5:30 to7:30 p.m. To register to attend this free event visit gaston.edu/senior-night.
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Holbrook Middle School girls capture county basketball championship

The Holbrook Middle School girls basketball team defeated the squad from W,C. Friday Middle School last week to capture the countywide basketball championship. The score was 51-12. Holbrook went the entire season without a loss. Congratulations to the Lady Lions for a great job.

Photos courtesy Brian Mayhew/Carolina Top Shots
 
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South Point High School Cheerleaders held their Cheer banquet

The South Point High School Cheerleaders held their Cheer banquet at South Point on Wednesday, March 9.  Cayden Ritchie was named Outstanding Leadership award winner. Sariana Braggs won the Spirit Award, and Lydia Walker was named Most Valuable Cheerleader.  Picture Identification from left to right: Cayden Ritchie - Outstanding Leadership Award, Sariana Braggs - Spirit Award, Lydia Walker - Most Valuable Cheerleader.
Photo by Charlotte Sautner
 
Stanely middle cheerleraders pic

Stanley Middle School Cheerleaders are County Champs!

Congratulations to the Stanley Middle School Cheerleaders and Head Coach Lockridge and Asst. Coaches Wylie and Andrews who are the Gaston County Schools County Cheerleading Champions. A huge thank you to the fan base who showed up to cheer them on.

Belmont Middle School Wildcats

The Belmont Middle School Wildcats defeated Southwest Middle 52-42 in the Gaston County Middle School boys basketball Championship game. The Wildcats were lead by #3 Jaishawn Woods with 16 points and 8 rebounds and #14 Dylan Bradley with16 points and 5 rebounds. K.J Shouse also had a double double with13 points and 14 rebounds as Belmont won it’s first Gaston County Basketball Championship since 2011.   

Photos by Bill Bostick/ Tarheel Sports Photography
 
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Huge shoutout to Brandon Smith

Huge shoutout to Gaston County Parks and Rec ground’s maintenance. employee Brandon Smith for taking initiative and jumping into the Dallas Park  lake to save a duck in distress with a fishhook in her eye.  Update on the duck - She was taken to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue for her injuries and was given the name Belle. Belle is doing great after emergency surgery. Thank you to Gaston County Police, Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement, and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue for their help.
 
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Stuart Cramer softball
tops Cherryville

The Stuart Cramer Storm softball team won their season home opener 5-4 over Cherryville in nine innings thanks to a walk off error in the bottom of the ninth. The game was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Storm batting, when a Cherryville error resulted in the game winning run by Stuart Cramer. Stuart Cramer’s Andrea Detweiler went 4-5 at the plate with a single in the third, fifth, seventh and ninth innings and she crossed the plate for the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Payton Conroy also hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and solid pitching from the Storm’s freshman Hadley Womack kept the game close throughout. Womack earned the win pitching all nine innings.
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Stuart Cramer senior Will Kelly has been selected to play in the Carolinas Classic basketball game. The Carolinas Classic an all-star game featuring the top high school players from North Carolina and South Carolina. The game will be held on March 26th in Wilmington. Photo by John Wilson

In only two years Will Kelly set the standard at Stuart Cramer

By John Wilson
John.bannernews@gmail.com

Will Kelly is one heck of a basketball player. The Stuart Cramer senior will soon finish up his high school basketball career playing in the Carolinas Classic, the North Carolina-South Carolina All-Star game held on March 26th in Wilmington
The road to the all-star game has been an interesting journey for Kelly. However, as it turns out, Will’s journey may be just beginning.
Will Kelly has held a basketball in his hand for as long as he can remember.
“I started dribbling a ball when I was two,” he said.
In his early years Will started out playing rec. ball but was soon convinced to consider other playing options after a conversation with his Pop Warner football coach.
“Coach Bradley talked to me about playing basketball when I was about nine,” Will explained. “So, I started to play travel ball with the Gastonia Lakers.”
Will really enjoyed travel ball. In fact, the more he played the more he found just how much he really liked basketball.
When the time came to go to middle school, Will started playing ball with the Belmont Middle School Wildcats.
After middle school, Kelly started his high school career at South Point before transferring to Stuart Cramer for his sophomore year.
Will played for the Storm his sophomore and senior years. He went to private school for his junior year.
Right from the beginning Kelly stood out as a promising player. He made the South Point varsity roster in his freshman year.
That accomplishment is something that he is very proud of.
“I made varsity as a freshman,” Will said. “Just knowing I could play at that level at such a young age.”
During his time at Cramer Will made a significant impact. He proved himself to be a dynamic player who at times was capable of taking over games. Kelly’s presence on the court greatly contributed to the Storm’s best season ever. In 2021-22 Cramer went 20-7.
While he only played at Cramer for two years,  Kelly set new marks that players in the future may still find hard to match.
 In just two years Will amassed 1,315 points and 408 rebounds. All Cramer records.
Along the way Will has had a lot of positive mentoring and guidance.
But the one person that stands out the most to him is his mother, Becky Gaither.
“I get everything from her,” Will said of his mom. “My hard work, my dedication. She told me at a young age to finish what I start. I’m able to be who I am because of her. That’s why I never quit and I’m as competitive as I am.”
There is little doubt that Will Kelly is a competitive young man. The stats don’t lie. During his time at Cramer, Kelly delivered the goods. However, there is more to this young man, much more.
All someone needs to do is spend a few minutes talking to Kelly and they soon find that his mother gave him far more than a competitive work ethic. It’s obvious Becky Gaither taught her son to not only be a determined athlete, but a decent person. Will Kelly comes across as both humble and polite.
Will’s down to earth and grounded nature is something that Cramer head basketball coach David Sloan immediately noticed.
 “He’s a great athlete,” Sloan said. “But he’s also really a humble young man. He doesn’t act like he knows it all. That type of mentality is contagious. He comes to practice ready to learn. That rubs off on his teammates.”
In the coming weeks Kelly will have some tough decisions to make as he sorts out his future.
As an All-Conference standout who is also under consideration for All-State honors,
Kelly is a top recruiting target.
Will is still sorting out where he wants to go, but he seems to have a good understanding of what he’s looking for in a college.
“I’m hoping to commit sometime after the All-Star Game and make my decision,” Will went on to say.  “I’m trying to find a connection with the coaching staff as well as having a good education and a relationship with the teachers.”
It’s still to early to say where Will Kelly will end up. The college athletics singing process can be maddening as schools compete to sign the nation’s top athletes. Will has had several offers from some solid Division II programs.
With that said, it seems like Will has everything under control. If there is any pressure involved in what college to choose this young man doesn’t show it. He seems to be enjoying the process and taking it all in stride.
In the end Will Kelly will choose the school he thinks is best for him. But no matter where he goes let’s hope that the school that signs him understands that they are getting more than just a good ball player.
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Abbey basketball takes championship

Abbey basketball takes championship

Quest Aldridge scored 23 points, hitting 13 of 15 free throws, and No. 2 seed Belmont Abbey used a late run to upset ninth-ranked and top-seeded UNC-Pembroke 79-73 in the championship game of the 2022 Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament Sunday afternoon.
The Crusaders (22-9) earned their second straight title and fifth overall by outscoring the Braves 18-7 over the final 4:41.

How It Happened-  Sean Halloran scored 14 points, while freshman KJ Garrett added 13. Chandler Baker also topped double figures with 11 points. Bosko Bojovic and Mario Lacy, Jr., each grabbed six rebounds. The Crusaders had 43 boards as a team, just one less than UNCP. Belmont Abbey shot a season-low 35.4 percent (23 of 65) after hitting 60.8 percent (76-125) the previous two games combined. Belmont Abbey led by five when the Braves went on a 13-3 run to open a 66-61 advantage. A three-pointer by Garrett with 3:50 left tied the game at 66. The Abbey improved to 18-2 when leading at the half. It was a slim 37-36 margin at the break. Aldridge was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player, while Halloran and Baker were also on the all-tournament team.
Belmont Abbey story/photo
 
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Mt. Holly Lady Hawks
fall to Stanley

The Mt. Holly Middle School Hawks boys basketball team played the Stanley Middle School Blue Devils squad last week. In the end, the Hawks flew all over the Blue Devils by a score of 66-38. Enjoy these scenes from the action-packed hardwood hoedown. 

See more photos on Page 11 Of the Banner-News March 3, 2022 issue

Photos by Jennifer Hall

 
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Gaston Day School Spartan swim teams
travel to NCISAA Division III Championship Meet

The Gaston Day School Spartan swim teams recently traveled to Greensboro for the NCISAA Division III Championship Meet. The girls’ team made school history by capturing Gaston Day’s first ever team state championship in swimming.  The girls edged out The O’Neal School by nine points. The boys set a team goal of finishing in the top-15, and they finished right on that number. Congratulations on a job well done.
 
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Belmont Parks and Rec. 7-8 basketball league championship 

The Belmont Parks and Rec. 7-8 basketball league championship game took place Saturday Feb 26 at Foursquare Gym, Belmont. The Vipers (16 points) secured the win over Belmont Tarheels (10 points) and took the crown. Here are some shots from the fun filled afternoon.

See more photos on Page 12 Of the Banner-News March 3, 2022 issue