Whiteville Girls Tennis dodges rain, defeats St. Pauls

Coach Serena Smith’s squad won five of six singles matches and swept doubles for an 8-1 win over St. Pauls. Caitlin baldwin, Bailey Barnhill, Lindsey Dowless, Ally Lovett, and Elizabeth Morris each took a singles pro-set victory. Baldwin and Barnhill, Dowless and Lovett and Morris and Haley Fowler teamed for the doubles sweep.

Whiteville’s Anna Smith and the Wolfpack doubles team of Kenssie Higgins and Molly Creech were victorious in exhibition matches.

    TRC Standings

South Columbus 2-0
West Bladen 2-0
Whiteville 2-0
East Bladen 1-1
Red Springs 1-1
East Columbus 0-0
West Columbus 0-1
St. Pauls 1-2
Fairmont 0-2
South Robeson 0-2

County volleyball squads take the court

Shynicquel Watson returns a shot for the Gators.

The four Columbus County public high schools begin conference play Tuesday. An 18-match conference slate is scheduled to be completed by October 17.

Whiteville and West Columbus competed in the Black and Gold Classic at UNC-Pembroke Saturday. Each match consisted of two sets in the six-team round robin event.

Whiteville defeated Fairmont and West Columbus. The Wolfpack split sets with 3A Lee County and 4A Scotland County. Fayetteville’s Freedom Christian topped Whiteville 2-0. Freedom also won its other matches 2-0 to take the tournament title. Whiteville defeated Scotland County in a second match to claim third place. “It was an outstanding day,” says Whiteville coach Greer Inman. “I was very happy with the way our girls performed.” Lilli Inman was named to the All-tournament team by a vote of the coaches.

West Columbus did not get the results Coach Heather McPherson hoped for. McPherson says, “We learned a lot and especially the areas we need to improve in.” The Vikings’ KK Horne was an All-Tournament selection.

East Columbus dropped a non-conference match to Pender Thursday. Set scores were 25-19, 25-21, 25-17. The Gators fell to 0-2.

South Columbus dropped its first set at 4A Lumberton 19-25, but the Stallions bounced back winning three consecutive sets by scores of 25-11, 25-19, 29-27 to open the season. South’s non-conference match, scheduled to be played at West Brunswick Monday, was postponed until September 6 due to the eclipse event.

Tuesday’s opening round TRC matches include South Columbus at Red Springs, East Bladen at Whiteville, East Columbus at St. Pauls and South Robeson at West Columbus. Schedules and results can be found at nrcolumbus.com/sports.

Wolfpack wins, Gators, Vikings drop openers

A large crowd withstood a hot, humid southeastern North Carolina evening to watch Whiteville win its home opener for the first time since 2012. The Wolfpack came out of the gate quickly, faltered and then put on a strong finish to defeat North Brunswick 29-6.

North Brunswick fumbled away the opening kickoff. Whiteville took advantage of the excellent field position as Jamario Norton scored from one-yard out. The snap for the extra point attempt was mishandled, but holder Kiante Webb turned a lemon into lemonade by diving across the goal line inside the right pylon for an 8-0 lead.

North Brunswick took advantage of good field position two possessions later, scoring on a 26-yard fourth down touchdown pass. The running attempt failed and Whiteville led 8-6.

The officials probably had to ice their arms at halftime after throwing flags on nine plays in the second quarter. One of those penalties nullified Whiteville’s Phillip Powell’s 24-yard scoring run. Whiteville lost another scoring opportunity as a bad snap was recovered by the Scorpions after the Wolfpack had driven inside the 10 yard line.

Whiteville came out strong in the second half. Kiante Webb sprinted 61 yards on the second play for a score.  Will Hinson added his first of three PATs for a 15-6 lead. The Wolfpack overcame two penalties on its second drive to score. Jamario Norton scored from 34 yards out for a 22-6 advantage.

Whiteville’s defense continued to dominate play in the second half, helped somewhat by an injury to North Brunswick’s starting QB. After forcing the second Scorpion punt of the half, Whiteville drove 68 yards in 10 plays. Jordan Faulk scored from one yard out for a 29-6 lead with 9:42 remaining in the contest. Another three and out gave Whiteville the ball on its 25 yard line. Although the Pack did not score, it did take over six minutes off the clock before punting the ball away with a minute to go. North Brunswick earned two of its seven first downs on the game’s final three plays.

Jamario Norton led Whiteville with 195 yards rushing on 22 carries. Whiteville totaled 403 yards total offense to just 143  for North Brunswick. Whiteville had a decided edge in plays run (55 to 33) and time of possession (27:05 to 20:55, 16:50 to 7:10 in the second half). Unfortunately, Whiteville also led in penalties (12 to 10)and penalty yardage (108 to 93). In addition to his run from scrimmage, Phillip Powell had a 74-yard punt called back due to a block-in-the-back penalty behind the play.

Despite losing 46-12 to North Duplin, West Columbus coach James Pierce was upbeat. The Vikings trailed 20-6 in the third quarter. Fatigue set in for the undermanned Viking team. Pierce will have at least two more players available for the next game and anticipates picking up more prior to conference play.

East Columbus fell 31-0 to Green Sea-Floyds in James Hobbs’ first game as the Gator head coach.

Eclipse concerns cause postponements

West Brunswick has postponed athletic contests scheduled for Monday due to student safety concerns relative to the eclipse. The Trojans volleyball match with South Columbus is rescheduled for September 6, The West Brunswick-West Columbus soccer match will be played September 8.

The East Columbus at West Columbus Girls Tennis match will not begin until 6 p.m. today. Columbus County students are not allowed on campus until 5 p.m. East Columbus still must travel to West, causing the later start time.


It’s time for Friday night football

Some final touch up work is handled prior to Whiteville’s home opener.

High school football gets underway tonight for real with three Columbus County teams in action. Whiteville is the only team playing at home.

The Wolfpack welcome North Brunswick. Each school has moved up a classification in the new realignment. Typically the games are close between the two squads. North Brunswick has won eight of the last 10 including a 21-20 win last season. Whiteville played well in the first half, but an hour delay at halftime due to inclement weather seemed to take some of the winds from the Wolfpack sails and North Brunswick came back to take the win.

West Columbus will open at North Duplin.North Duplin is coming off an 8-5 season. West Columbus will be looking to break a 12-game losing streak.

East Columbus will travel into South Carolina to take on Green Sea-Floyds. The Trojan program has shown continuous improvement over the last several seasons and will be a tough opener for first-year coach James Hobbs; squad.

South Columbus is open. The Stallions host Douglas Byrd next Friday night in the first of 11 consecutive games.

Rough start for county soccer teams

Whiteville’s Vann Ciamillo (1) slides in to take the ball away from a Coastal Christian player.

West Columbus and Purnell Swett boys soccer teams probably have each other circled on the schedule. Purnell Swett’s last win on the pitch was against the Vikings in 2016. West Columbus is winless since defeating Purnell Swett in 2015.

Tuesday, the Vikings and Rams met in Cerro Gordo. Purnell Swett won the first half 3-0. West Columbus held the Rams scoreless in the second half, rallying for two goals of their own. It wasn’t enough. The Rams took a 3-2 win and broke a 14-game losing streak.

Pender’s last boys soccer match of 2016 was a 1-0 playoff loss to Whiteville. The Patriots started 2017 with payback in mind although against a different Columbus County foe. Pender defeated South Columbus 9-3. Adolfo Cardenas, Marcos Lagunas and Antonio Pineda scored goals for the Stallions. Cardenas and Armando Olmos were credited with assists.

Depending on whom you spoke with Wednesday, the Coastal Christian versus Whiteville soccer match was either not going to be completed, resumed on Wednesday or restarted on Wednesday at Coastal. The latter turned out to be true. Erasing the 3-0 lead from the scoreboard Coastal had achieved Tuesday did not benefit the Wolfpack as the Centurions took an 8-0 victory.

Also on Wednesday, East Columbus fell 3-1 to Lakewood in its season opener. Adrian Lopez scored the lone Gator goal. East Columbus goalkeeper Alex Ellis was credited with 13 saves.

Thursday, West Columbus defeated the elements to get its match played with Pender. Unfortunately, the Patriots proved to be an even tougher foe winning 8-2. Samuel Ramos scored both Viking goals assisted by Aaron Elkins and Jeremiah Williams.

Whiteville’s home match with North Brunswick was postponed. A make up date was not announced.

Three Rivers Girls Tennis is underway

West Columbus’ Chloe Pate leaps to return a shot in Monday’s match against West Bladen.

Monday was the first day fall sports (with the exception of football) could play regular season matches. The Three Rivers Conference Girls Tennis teams not only opened play, but opened conference play. All 10 TRC schools are currently fielding Girls Tennis squads. With 18 matches on the schedule an early start was necessary.

South Columbus, one of the pre-season conference favorites, opened with a 7-2 win over Fairmont. Coach Brett Burroughs was playing without his #2 seed Elizabeth Koonce. The Stallion lower seeds stepped up to propel South to what Coach Burroughs described as a “match closer than the final score might indicate.” Also, due to the heat, humidity and a “wet-bulb” thermometer reading in excess of 90 degrees, the match did not begin until after 5 pm.

Whiteville started defense of its Three Rivers title with an 8-1 win over Red Springs. Red Springs was unable to field a full squad, resulting in the Wolfpack receiving three forfeits.

TRC newcomer West Bladen announced its arrival with an 8-1 win over West Columbus. West Bladen is coming off a 17-1  season with its only loss in the second round of the 2A playoffs. The Knights are expected to contend for top honors in the TRC.

St. Pauls defeated East Bladen 6-3. South Robeson, fielding a team for the first time in two years, postponed its match at East Columbus due to an illness suffered by the head coach.


East Bladen’s Jayme LeeAnn Frady (left) and East Columbus’ Graceanna Sessions are both still smiling after Sessions edged Frady in #1 singles.

Tuesday action

South Columbus pitched the equivalent of a baseball no-hitter, shutting out South Robeson 9-0. The Stallions swept all nine matches by 8-0 scores. South Robeson is returning to Girls Tennis after a two-year absence. South Columbus faces West Bladen, also 2-0 in the TRC, on Thursday. West Bladen defeated St. Pauls 5-1 Tuesday.

Elizabeth Morris serves for Whiteville.

Whiteville and West Columbus were locked in a tight battle when rains came and the match had to be suspended. Whiteville was leading 4-3 when the match was stopped. The teams will complete the match September 12 when Whiteville travels to West Columbus for the return match.

East Columbus and East Bladen suffered the same fate as Whiteville-West Columbus. East Columbus was leading 3-2 when the match was suspended. The teams will resume play September 12 when East Columbus travels to East Bladen.

In other TRC action Tuesday, Red Springs edged Fairmont 5-4 despite having only five players. This resulting in Red Springs forfeiting at #6 singles and #3 doubles.



Stallion Boys Soccer duo sign with St. Andrews

Seated left to right. Alfonso Pantaleon, Christian Hernandez. Standing left to right. Ildefonso Pantaleon, Maria Pantaleon, Coach Andrew Rice and Maria Hernandez.

Alfonso Pantaleon and Christian Hernandez helped lead the 2016 South Columbus Boys Soccer squad to its most successful season ever. Recently, each signed a scholarship offer to play for the St. Andrews Knights in Laurinburg, NC. St. Andrews is an NAIA school and is a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. The Knights had a record of 8-10 in 2016. Pantaleon and Hernandez become the first South Columbus boys to receive scholarships to play college soccer.

Pantaleon is the son of Maria and Ildefonso Pantaleon. He was named first team, All-TRC three times. Pantaleon won the South Columbus midfield award twice and accumulated over 50 points in his career.

Hernandez is the son of Maria Hernandez and the late Martin Solis. He was named the Three Rivers Conference 2016 Player of the Year and was a three-time first team All-TRC selection. Hernandez was the Stallion’s MVP twice and holds the school’s career mark for most points.

According to Andrew Rice, South Columbus Boys Soccer coach, Pantaleon and Hernandez have performed well in preseason action for the Knights.

Stallions’ Strickland resigns

Bradley Strickland has resigned from his position as teacher/coach at South Columbus High School. Strickland was serving as an assistant football coach and the head varsity coach for Stallion baseball. In the classroom, Strickland taught math.

Strickland’s baseball teams at South Columbus had an overall record of 40-31 during his three seasons as head coach. The Stallions were 24-18 in the Three Rivers Conference during that same time frame. South Columbus advanced to the fourth round of the 2A playoffs in 2016. The Stallions advanced to the second round in both 2015 and 2017.

Strickland is expected to take a teacher/coach position at Green Sea-Floyds High School in South Carolina.

Columbus County claims 2017 Dixie Debs World Series crown

Columbus County wasn’t the only NC representative to bring home a championship. The Dunn Angels also were World Series champs. They also came over to support the Debs during the final innings of their game.

The Columbus County Debs did it the hard way and got some revenge in the process. Columbus County scored three runs in the ninth inning to defeat Tennessee 5-2 and claim the 2017 Dixie Debs World Series title Wednesday night. Tennessee handed the North Carolina representative its only tournament loss, 10-6 Tuesday night.

Earlier Wednesday, Columbus County defeated defending Debs World Series champ, Alexandria, LA (the host team) 6-5 to advance to the title game with Tennessee. This was the second 6-5 victory for Columbus County over Alexandria in the tournament. Alexandria’s 2016 title came at the expense of the Columbus County Debs as Alexandria won consecutive games in the finals over a previously unbeaten Columbus County squad.

Callie Sumner celebrates at second base.

Columbus County 6 Alexandria, LA 5

Columbus County defeated the host team by the same score as earlier in the tournament. This time it didn’t take extra innings, but it was a back and forth affair between Columbus and the defending champions.

Alexandria took the lead with a solo homerun in the second inning. Columbus County responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the second. Alex Chestnutt and Lindsey Jones singled. Amanda Watts moved them up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Kelsey Carroll doubled, scoring Chestnutt and Jones. Kailey Paul followed with a double to score Carroll for a 3-1 lead.

The third inning was about the long ball. An Alexandria two-run homer tied the score at three. Hailey Sarvis responded with a two-run shot of her own after Callie Sumner singled to reestablish a two run lead at 5-3. Alexandria scored single runs in the fourth and sixth to tie the score.

Chestnutt singled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Jones walked. A passed ball moved the runners to third and second. Alexis Suggs’ infield pop up was misplayed allowing Chestnutt to score what proved to be the eventual winning run. Columbus County cut down the potential tying run  in a run down between third and home in the top of the seventh.

Alexis Suggs pitched the first four innings for Columbus County. Kailey Paul occupied the circle for the final three. Neither recorded a strikeout, but limited Alexandria to just six hits and three walks.

Alex Chestnutt was 3 for 3. Hailey Sarvis 1 for 3 with a two-run homer. Kelsey Carroll and Kailey Paul each contributed doubles. Carroll’s drove in two runs and Paul’s one.

They don’t look tired after beating Alexandria, LA. Good thing, it was a quick turnaround before playing Tennessee in the final game.

Columbus County 5 Tennessee 2 (9 innings)

The odds did not favor the Columbus County 11 in the championship game against Tennessee. The young ladies had just finished a tough game with Alexandria. Tennessee had defeated Columbus County 10-6 the previous evening. None of the top three pitchers had enough innings to go a complete game due to the tournament limit on innings pitched. Lauren Smith had exhausted her innings. Kailey Paul and Alexis Suggs each had two innings remaining. Despite the obstacles facing them, the Columbus County Debs defeated Tennessee 5-2 in nine innings to claim the 2017 Dixie Debs World Series title. The Debs became the first Columbus County softball team to capture a World Series championship.

The game was scoreless through four innings. Paul retired six of the seven hitters she faced. With Paul out of innings, coach Steven Suggs called on Alex Chestnutt. Chestnutt had knocked the rust off a pitching arm used sparingly over the last three years, pitching three innings against Tennessee the previous evening. The South Columbus product limited Tennessee to two runs, three hits and one walk while striking out six over the next four and one-third innings.

Hailey Sarvis led off the Columbus fifth with a single. Chestnutt’s double scored Sarvis. Jones singled and Alexis Suggs bunt single loaded the bases. Amanda Watts’ hit to right field turned into an out when Tennessee’s right fielder charged the ball and retired Watts at first. However, a second Columbus County run scored on the play for a 2-0 lead. Tennessee broke through with a single run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Tennessee connected on back to back doubles with one out in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at two apiece. Suggs came on in relief of Chestnutt. Columbus catcher Kelsey Carroll contributed a huge defensive play, retiring a Tennessee runner attempting to advance to third. After two walks, Suggs induced a pop up to short for out three. Both teams went down one, two, three in the eighth.

Callie Sumner opened the Columbus ninth with a bunt single. Morgan Nye followed with a base hit. Hailey Sarvis walked. Chestnutt’s sacrifice fly to center scored Sumner for a 3-2 Columbus lead. Lindsey Jones’ triple provided two key insurance runs and a 5-2 advantage.

Chestnutt returned to the circle in the bottom of the ninth as Suggs had reached her inning limit after the eighth. Two strikeouts and a fly ball to centerfield later, the 2017 Columbus County Debs had accomplished what they came so close to in 2016, a World Series championship.

With inning limitations in softball, managing your personnel is a must if you want to win a championship. Head coach Steven Suggs along with assistants Travis Paul and Gary Watts role in winning the championship have played a major role in this team’s success.

Listing the team members is almost unnecessary. Each of the 11 players at some point during the series has been mentioned as a contributor on a key play or plays on the championship journey. However, here they are anyway: Paige Gore, Lauren Smith, Kailey Paul, Kelsey Carroll, Amanda Watts, Alexis Suggs, Lindsey Jones, Alex Chestnutt, Hailey Sarvis, Morgan Nye and Callie Sumner.