Smith: Here's to a basketball title soon
I really hope I’m not jinxing anyone.
My first true sight of Kinston (besides watching Reggie Bullock play for UNC) came through the 2013 Eastern Regionals in Fayetteville. I was covering Fairmont and watched them get smoked by a Vikings team led by Denzel Keyes, Joshua Dawson and a 6-7, 140-pound sophomore named Brandon Ingram. That team won the state title a year later and three months later, the city became my home. Although I didn’t cover the Vikings in 2014 and 2015, I watched a few games as Kinston won its third and fourth straight titles.
Since I’ve done sports here in Kinston back in 2015, I’ve been blessed to have seen five champions — all private schools: Arendell Parrott football (2015, 2016) and volleyball (2018), along with Bethel Christian football (2016) and baseball (2017). Publicly, I covered my first state title game as Greene Central made it last year, and that was with The Flourish Post. The Rams have seen three consecutive Regional Finals in what has to be the best basketball era for the school and Kinston’s girls have two straight Regionals on their current resume.
I just need that basketball title now.
I’m still undecided if I’m going to check out the South Central-West Charlotte title game Saturday in Raleigh, but the decision would’ve been infinitely easier had Greene Central’s boys or Kinston’s girls gave Farmville Central’s teams something the school hasn’t seen in hoops in 2018-19 — a loss — last week at ECU. Instead, I’m here to congratulate the local teams for making it so far while wishing a final step could’ve manifested.
Maybe we’re a little spoiled here — Kinston and Greene Central’s boys have given us epic games over the past four years (the 2019 ECC tournament title game notwithstanding). The Vikings’ girls went on long winning streaks in consecutive years, 20 last season and 29 the campaign before. Expectations are higher here and while it can be tough, it shows the resiliency of so many student-athletes.
If I never see a state title in basketball, I won’t be too upset. I’ve had fun at every game I’ve gone to, and not just for the aforementioned powerhouses. Arendell Parrott, Ayden-Grifton, Bethel Christian, Jones Senior, North Lenoir and South Lenoir have all given me wonderful moments over the years. As I look to put together the All-Area teams soon, there might be a separate column about my favorite games. I feel bad I came in on the tail end of championships in the sport, but there will be another in due time — whether I’m here or not.
Well, it’s on you baseball. And softball, girls’ soccer, boys’ tennis and lacrosse.