12/02/05 — North Johnston teams top Carolina Conference poll

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North Johnston teams top Carolina Conference poll

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on December 2, 2005 2:04 PM

In a poll conducted by the News-Argus, basketball coaches in the Class 1-A Carolina Conference are predicting the North Johnston boys and girls basketball teams to repeat as champions in 2005 -- but not unanimously.

The Panther boys, who reached the N.C. High School Athletic Association title game before falling to Thomasville, received four first-place votes despite losing leading scorer Jake Lomonaco and post stalwart Damien Allen.

Ayden-Grifton, a team that graduated seven seniors, picked up two first-place votes and finished second in the poll.

"We've got good young players. I think we'll be good before the year is over," veteran Charger coach Bob Murphrey said.

Spring Creek garnered two, second-place votes and three, third-place votes to claim third in the poll. The Gators lost leading scorer Josh Bishop, but appear to be reloaded in 2005 with Dalreese Bell, Josh Wright, Cliff Wilson and Daniel Chewning, who have all contributed in the early going.

With leading scorer Kyle Bunn returning, Rosewood was picked fourth, while Princeton and North Duplin rounded out the poll at fifth and sixth, respecitively.

"We've got 14 games before our first conference game. We lost all five starters (including Karter Yutzy) and Patrick Bunch and Adam Williams are the only players back that played last year," Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. "Of our top eight players, four are sophomores."

In the girls poll, North Johnston coach David Bagwell seemed shocked that his team was picked first after losing team catalysts Helen Moore and Lakisha McFadden to graduation.

"I can't imagine. We've played two games and we've barely won both of them," Bagwell said. "Offensively, we are a lot like North Carolina's mens' team coming back. We lost a lot.

"We have three seniors coming back, but they were all hurt last year."

The Panthers got five first-place votes, while Rosewood was picked to finish second and got one first-place vote.

Like most of the girls coaches, Eagles' coach Jerry Narron, also the manager of the Major League Cincinnati Reds, believes there is good reason to pick North Johnston at the top despite the players they've lost.

"They've got coach Bagwell on the sideline, and he's one of the best coaches around," Narron said. "They always execute well."

Narron's squad features three returning seniors, including Clare Narron, Stephanie Rhodes and Kasey Grey.

North Duplin, picked third, finished 0-12 in the league last year, but will be one of the more experienced teams in the league with 10 returners, including leading scorer Sierra Ward.

Princeton, Spring Creek and Ayden-Grifton rounded out the girls poll in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in what should be a balanced conference. Spring Creek, under second-year coach Mandy Ramjford, returns four starters.