ECC stars play in Saturday's Craven County Classic
Kinston’s Judah McBynum, left and Ayden-Grifton’s James Richardson had near triple-doubles in Saturday’s Craven County Classic. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
VANCEBORO | For a quartet of local stars, it was another chance to play at the high school level.
The annual Craven County Classic took place Saturday, where some of the best seniors in Eastern North Carolina played against each other. In the boys’ game, Team All-Area defeated Team Craven/Pamlico 143-119 behind 40 points from White Oak’s Antonio Carter and 32 from Farmville Central’s Rande Harper Jr. — offsetting 45 from West Craven’s Ahmad Inman — but two local stars played big impacts.
Kinston’s Judah McBynum filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. McBynum, who is undecided on where he’ll play college ball next season, went 66-20 during his 3-year career with the Vikings, advancing to the third round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs each year with three Eastern Carolina Conference tournament titles and a share of the regular-season title in the 2017-18 campaign.
“It felt pretty good having this experience,” McBynum said. “Now, my goal is to work on my game during the summer and get ready for the next chapter. I learned a lot playing at Kinston and really came from the bottom to do well — my advice to everyone coming up is to keep working hard and good things will come.”
Ayden-Grifton’s James Richardson also had a near triple-double, posting 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Richardson, who is also undecided on his college plan, helped the Chargers reach the third round of the playoffs in 2016-17, the team’s first time in four years.
“It felt good playing with some of the same guys I played against over the years,” Richardson said. “I’m going to miss Ayden-Grifton — I had the chance to play varsity all four years and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
In the girls’ game, Team Craven/Pamlico won 87-67 behind 19 points from Pamlico County’s Jainaya Jones and 16 from West Craven’s Deslyn Abrams. Kinston’s Samantha Lee and South Lenoir’s Taniejah Mitchell started for Team All-Area and both were strong for the team according to Coach Tiffany Anderson.
“They’re well-coached and they definitely wouldn’t be at this stage if they weren’t talented,” Anderson said. “They have great character and it’s been great working with them.”
Lee started the game with a 3-pointer and an assist to Mitchell. She also had four rebounds and two steals, representing a Kinston team going a combined 99-20 during her four years, including two straight trips to the Regional Finals, four ECC tournament titles and three conference championships. Lee is undecided on her college choice and said she enjoyed her high school career.
“I had a lot of fun at Kinston,” Lee said. “We stayed competitive and played as a team.”
Mitchell, who plans to play at Lenoir Community College next season, had seven points and 12 rebounds in the Craven County Classic. Mitchell missed most of her junior season with an injury, but helped the Blue Devils win an ECC conference title in 2016-17 and helped the Blue Devils continue a five-year streak of postseason play.
“It felt good to play in this game and I’m thankful for my time at South Lenoir,” Mitchell said. “We stayed competitive and composed the whole time.”