East 1-A regional outlook
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 28, 2012 2:03 PM
FAYETTEVILLE -- Anybody can win it.
And boy, you can expect some battles.
Four tradition-rich high school girls' basketball programs collide Thursday and Saturday to determine the 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern regional champion.
Any one of the four are worthy.
No. 4-ranked Chocowinity Southside (27-3 overall) opposes Southeast Halifax (23-3) in one semifinal at 7 p.m. inside the Crown Coliseum. The eastern runner-up last season, No. 6-ranked Goldsboro High (24-2) takes on No. 5-ranked Lakewood (27-1) in the nightcap.
The Cougars are making their 11th regional appearance in program history and back-to-back trips for the first time since the Gladys McClary era. Goldsboro is 7-9 all-time in regional competition and hasn't played for a state championship since 1982.
"Our expectations were the same from last year," said second-year Cougars head coach LaTina Bullock. "We saw how far we came last year and we wanted to make it back to the same place, and keep pushing forward."
Lakewood earned its first regional berth since 1994 when it eventually claimed the 1-A state title with Chastity Melvin. Melvin played for the late Kay Yow at N.C. State and with the Washington Mystics in the WNBA. She now plays overseas.
Sasha Martin is one of three players who average double figures for the Leopards this season. The 5-foot-5 guard pumps in 15 points a game, while 5-9 junior forward Teisha Rich averages a double-double -- 12 points, 10 rebounds.
It's the Leopards' fourth regional appearance in program history.
"We're young and this is new to us, so I hope it doesn't overwhelm us and cause us not to perform the way I know that we are capable of playing," said Leopards head coach Lofton Kerr.
Southeast Halifax eliminated 2011 east champ Southwest Onslow and returns to the regional after a six-year absence.
Sekethia Williams owns the regional's top scoring average (23 points), while Ashley Rudd has provided a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) this season. Williams was named the Tar-Roanoke Conference player-of-the-year.
The Trojans claimed the 2006 east 1-A title and lost in the state championship game.
Southside is making its second straight appearance after falling to Goldsboro in last year's semifinals. The Seahawks are led by two-time Four Rivers player-of-the-year Katisha Hyman, who averages 15.7 points a game and was selected to play in the NC/SC All-Star Game in Myrtle Beach.