Weekend wrap up

Whiteville and South Columbus each ran out to large enough halftime leads to invoke the “running clock” rule in the second half. Whiteville defeated West Columbus 57-0 behind a balanced offense and stingy defense. You can say the same thing about South’s 43-14 win over South Robeson. The Mustangs scored two second half touchdowns well after the outcome at Vinegar Hill had been decided.

The Wolfpack and Stallions each have one hurdle remaining before the November 3 showdown at South Columbus. Whiteville has the tougher task, facing a St. Pauls team that came within a touchdown of defeating East Bladen two weeks ago and is fresh off a 55-28 win over West Bladen. South Columbus travels to Dublin to take on that West Bladen squad.

East Columbus was forced to forfeit its game to East Bladen. The Gators were unable to come up with enough players to field a squad. Unofficial school reports have this as a one-time matter and will not affect the Gators final two games.

On a brighter note for East Columbus, the Gators defeated Robersonville South Creek 3-1 to advance to the second round of the NCHSAA 1A Volleyball playoffs. Coach Morgan Patrick’s squad will travel to Martin County Tuesday and face #7 seeded Bear Grass Academy. East Columbus improves to 10-12. Bear Grass (15-5) had a first round bye.

Both Whiteville and South Columbus fell 3-1 in opening round 2A Volleyball matches. Whiteville lost to #24 seed Anson County and South Columbus to #16 Croatan. Fairmont traveled to #8 North Pitt and sprang the biggest (from a seeding standpoint) upset of the first round. Fairmont will travel to Anson County in the second round.

Columbus County did not have anyone advance from Regional play in Girls Tennis. East Columbus’ Sierra Bryant did win her first round match. South Columbus will travel to Durham to take on NC School of Math & Science. Whiteville travels to Snow Hill for a match with Greene Central.

A memorable evening for Victoria Harrelson, fans

Stallion coach David Marlowe prepares to give Harrelson a high-five as she leaves the court.

By Franklin Davis

The quote, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” has long been attributed to legendary Green Bay Packer head coach Vince Lombardi. Actually, the first person known to use the saying was UCLA football coach “Red” Sanders, who in 1950 told a group, “Men, winning isn’t everything……. men, it’s the only thing.” The first record of Lombardi using the quote was in 1959 during his first training camp with Green Bay. No matter which coach said it first, he was wrong.
On Monday evening, October 16, I saw first hand a testament to how much more there is to sports than winning. The story of Victoria Harrelson’s remarkable recovery from what can best be described as a heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest is well documented. Monday she took to the volleyball court and took another step in the healing process.
Never mind it wasn’t a “real” match. Never mind the rules weren’t strictly followed. The point is she had an opportunity to PLAY! Encouraged by players, coaches, officials and fans, she PLAYED. Her effort on the court was great. Her effort, along with the Stallion Volleyball family’s effort, to get her back on the court PLAYING was even more impressive.
I can never recall observing South Columbus volleyball coach David Marlowe more nervous than he was prior to Victoria’s 2017 debut. Marlowe told me earlier in the season, he and assistant coaches Megan Whitesell and Jenny Johnson were looking into what steps needed to be made in order for Victoria to return to the court. Victoria has dressed out with the team and even volunteered to play when Marlowe asked during a timeout, “Doesn’t anyone want to play today?” Once it was determined Victoria could take part in an on the court event during Senior Night, a plan was put into place to make that happen.
West Bladen coach Gaye Davis was approached with the idea of Victoria taking the court on South’s Senior Night match with the Knights. Davis said, “When Coach Marlowe asked me about it I had no reservations. People get caught up in the wins or losses of sports. Players, coaches and parents forget that we are all very fortunate that our kids get the chance to even play. I have followed Victoria’s story from the beginning. What Victoria, her family, her friends and team have gone through has been traumatic and devastating, but in the end, God had other plans for her.
“Monday evening is what sports should be about. There were no political agendas or anything to gain. We were all there to celebrate an accomplishment that no one thought would have happened in February 2017. I told both Coach Marlowe and Coach Johnson, whatever you need us to do, we are all in. The real winner last night was Victoria. She is an inspiration to all of us. Imagine if all athletes (and people) had her drive and determination to overcome obstacles, what the world would be like. The girls and I and all of the Knight family are very honored to be a part of that very emotional experience.”
Davis’ words summarize the life lesson we all can take from this. So often we take for granted the basic things in sports. Parents and players get upset when the amount of playing time or statistical recognition is less than expected. Fans focus on wins.
Unfortunately, it takes a near tragedy to return our attention to just being able to PLAY. Even if most of the PLAY comes in practice, the opportunity is still there. How many high school athletes would trade places with Victoria or how many parents would have their child take her place? Sitting on the end of the bench is a pretty good deal when you look at the alternative.
Victoria’s story shows us how wonderful it is to simply have the opportunity to PLAY. Not star, not start, just PLAY. Marlowe says, “Victoria is a blessing to everyone she is around. If people do not believe in miracles then they need to get a load of her. Monday was a great experience for us as a team moving forward. I will never forget that feeling. “
I’ve got to give Coach Lombardi a break. He claims he was misquoted (despite using the same line several times afterwards). Lombardi said what he meant was, “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is.”
Nowhere was that will more present than a memorable Monday evening at South Columbus.

Stallions, Wolfpack open Girls Tennis playoffs with wins

Whiteville made the trip to East Duplin and surprised the higher seed by pulling off a 5-4 win. The match was tied at the three wins each after singles play. Whiteville earned wins in #1 and #2 doubles to spring the upset. Whiteville (15-4) will travel to Snow Hill Tuesday, taking on a strong Greene Central (18-1) squad.

South Columbus had no trouble with visiting Wilson Beddingfield, winning 5-0. When the clinching fifth point was earned in singles play, the remainder of the match was cancelled. South Columbus (18-1) will travel to Durham Tuesday to play NC School of Math and Science (13-0).  NCSMS is a perennial contender for honors in Girls Tennis.

East and West Columbus both lost its opening round matches in the 1A playoffs.

TRC Boys Soccer, Thursday update

Will Hinson attempts a header.


Ethan Bass scored twice for Whiteville to offset two North Brunswick goals as the Wolfpack and Scorpions played to a two-all draw in a non-conference match in Whiteville Thursday. Brooks Baldwin assisted on one of Bass’ scores. Goalkeeper Tyler Cliff had five saves.

St. Pauls overpowered East Columbus 9-2.


Whiteville held a strong East Bladen squad to a scoreless draw in the first half of play. The Eagles scored two minutes into the second half and went on to a 3-0 victory. The win clinches at least a tie for the TRC championship and locks up the number one playoff seed from the conference. Brooks Baldwin was credited with eight saves in goal for the Wolfpack. Whiteville needs one win in its three matches next week to secure the conference’s second automatic berth.

Red Springs broke a 3-3 tie with approximately two minutes remaining to defeat visiting West Columbus. The winning goal came on a penalty kick. Coach Marc Edge said, “The match was physical, but we missed too many opportunities.”

Wilmer Garcia (left) and Andrew Robinson perform a soccer version of the “Hokey Pokey”.

West Bladen shut out East Columbus 2-0. St. Pauls defeated South Columbus 5-1.


Whiteville Boys Soccer remained one game behind conference-leader East Bladen with a 4-2 win over East Columbus Tuesday. The match was postponed from Monday due to wet field conditions.

Vann Ciamillo scored twice for the Wolfpack. Will Hinson tallied a goal and an assist. Cirilo Gonzalez also scored. Jake Inman and Nick Kahler were credited with assists. Chris Strickland scored both Gator goals assisted by Adrian Lopez and Devan Young. Alex Ellis had 14 saves.

St. Pauls and West Bladen played to a 3-3 draw.


South Columbus Boys Soccer earned a much-needed win over Red Springs, 5-3, Monday afternoon. Marcos Pineda had a “hat trick” for the Stallions. Adolfo Cardenas added two goals and an assist. Antonio Pineda assisted on the other four Stallion scores. Luke Ray was credited with 12 saves in goal.

East Bladen defeated East Columbus 9-0.


TRC BOYS SOCCER STANDINGS (through October 18)

East Bladen                           12-0

Whiteville                               9-2

West Bladen                          7-4-1

Red Springs                           6-4-1

St. Pauls                                 3-6-2

East Columbus (1A)              2-8-1

South Columbus                    2-9-1

West Columbus (1A)              2-10


October 19

East Columbus @ St. Pauls (make up from Oct. 9)

North Brunswick @ Whiteville (make up from Aug. 17)

Volleyball playoff brackets released

There were no surprises as to who was in when the NCHSAA released the 2017 Volleyball playoff brackets. What was surprising is how low the seeds the TRC schools were given. In 2A Whiteville is a #9, South Columbus a #17 and Fairmont a #25. East Columbus is a #10 in 1A. Whiteville is the lowest seeded #1 in the 2A East and South Columbus the lowest seeded #2 in the 2A East. East Columbus is the lowest seeded #1 in 1A East.

Volleyball is the first sport to have seeding within the playoff brackets done by Max Preps ranking. The NCHSAA is using this method this year instead of overall winning percentage to determine the seed a team receives. No matter what a team is ranked, all #1s must be seeded ahead of #2s and #2s above #3s, etc. Wildcards, like Fairmont, fill out the rest of the 64-team field in order of ranking. The top 64 teams are selected first, then divided into East and West Regions by the longitude of each school’s location.

Whiteville (17-2) will host Anson County (13-11), Friday at 6 p.m.

East Columbus (9-12) will host Robersonville South Creek (13-8), Saturday at 3 p.m.

South Columbus (19-5) will travel to Croatan (13-8) for a Saturday, 3 p.m. match.

Whiteville claims TRC Volleyball crown

The Whiteville Wolfpack became the first Three Rivers team other than Fairmont to hand the South Columbus Stallions a league loss Tuesday. The 3-1 victory propelled the Wolfpack to the 2017 Three Rivers Conference title. This is Whiteville Volleyball’s first title since 2000. A large, boisterous crowd was on hand in Whiteville’s gym to see the second thrilling match between the two squads. South Columbus won a five-set match on September 19. A Fairmont win over the Stallions October 10 gave Whiteville and South identical 16-1 conference records entering the match.

Whiteville lost the first set, but took control of the match midway set two. The Stallions managed an impressive comeback in the fourth set and served for the set twice. Whiteville was able to hold off South and prevail 29-27 to earn the set and match win.













West Columbus Volleyball will enter the offseason with a pleasant ending to build upon. The Vikings shut out playoff bound East Columbus 3-0.

Gators claim JV Volleyball crown

The East Columbus JV Volleyball team, with an assist from Whiteville won the TRC JV Volleyball championship Tuesday with a 25-22 and 25-13 win over West Columbus. That victory, coupled with Whiteville’s 25-20 and 25-13 win over South Columbus, clinched the title for the Gators. East completed TRC play with a 17-1 record, followed by South Columbus at 16-2 and Whiteville’s 14-4.

Tuesday, West Columbus finished the season on a high note, defeating playoff bound East Columbus 3-0. The Vikings won by set scores of 25-19, 25-16 and 25-18 to cap off a successful Senior Night.

South Columbus and Whiteville took care of business with straight-set victories Monday to set up the “winner-take-all” match at Whiteville Tuesday. South Columbus celebrated Senior Night with a 3-0 win over West Bladen. Whiteville traveled to St. Pauls and collared the Bulldogs by a 3-0 score.

Monday’s most exciting match took place between West Columbus and visiting Red Springs . The teams split the first four sets, each set won by two points. The Vikings won the deciding set by a 15-9 margin. Fairmont swept visiting East Columbus.

South Columbus, East Columbus, West Columbus and Whiteville’s  junior varsity squads all were victorious on Monday.


Whiteville                               17-1

South Columbus                    16-2

Fairmont                                15-3

East Columbus (1A)             9-9

West Bladen                          8-10

South Robeson (1A)             6-12

Red Springs                           6-12

East Bladen                            5-13

West Columbus (1A)              5-13

St. Pauls                                  3-15

October 16

South Robeson 1 at East Bladen 3

East Columbus 0 at Fairmont 3

Whiteville 3 at St. Pauls 0

West Bladen 0 at South Columbus 3

Red Springs 2 at West Columbus 3

October 17

South Columbus 1 at Whiteville 3

East Columbus 0 at West Columbus 3

West Bladen 3 at East Bladen 1

Fairmont 3 at South Robeson 1

St. Pauls 3 at Red Springs 2

Wolfpack girls again X-Country champs

On Monday, October 16, the Whiteville  Cross Country team competed against Fairmont, Red Springs, South Robeson and St. Pauls in the Three Rivers Conference Championships. The Lady Wolfpack won their fifth consecutive TR8 Championship and had five girls receive All-Conference honors by placing in the top ten. They were: Hannah Duncan (2), Alexandria Bellamy (3), Fatima Reyes (4), Shanekera Faulk (7), and Maria Rojas (8). Zach Hatch was named All-Conference for the men’s team, placing fifth.

Overall Team Scores were:
1. Whiteville-22
2. Red Springs-37
3. St. Pauls-71
1. St. Pauls-37
2. Red Springs-51
3. Fairmont-53
4. Whiteville-75

All four Columbus Girls Tennis teams earn playoff spots

By winning the 1A and 2A sections of the Three Rivers Conference, East and South Columbus, respectively, knew an automatic playoff bid was a perk. South Columbus was assured an automatic bid, but did not clinch the number one bid from the conference until a 7-2. Saturday morning win over West Bladen. East Columbus clinched the top 1A spot with a week remaining in the regular season.South Columbus will host Wilson Beddingfield and East Columbus will host Chatham Central, Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Whiteville finished third in the conference with a record of 14-4. The Wolfpack held out hope its record would be good enough to earn the one wildcard slot available in the 32-team field. Even though one team (CATA) had a better overall percentage and another (Central Davidson) had the same record as Whiteville, Whiteville’s geographic location was the deciding factor in obtaining the only available wildcard berth. Tennis is one of the few sports that still has predetermined brackets by conference finish. In other sports, the teams are selected, then longitude determines which teams are East and West. In tennis, the wildcard would be awarded to the “East” team with the best overall record that was not an automatic qualifier. Whiteville fit the bill and will travel to take on East Duplin, also 14-4, Wednesday.

Seven wildcard slots were available in the 24-team 1A bracket. Although West Columbus (7-11) did not have one of the seven-best overall marks of non automatic qualifiers, its record was third best among teams in the East. West Columbus will visit Franklin Academy (14-0) in first round play Wednesday.

Gators nab JV football win, usual suspects win in Volleyball

The light at the end of the East Columbus Gators football program tunnel could be this year’s junior varsity team. The Gator JVs picked up its second win of the season, defeating Trask 6-0 Thursday. The only score of the contest was a touchdown run by East’s Jamar Williams.

In other action, South Columbus shut out Fairmont 29-0. Whiteville defeated Red Springs 28-6 and East Bladen topped St. Pauls 26-2.

East Bladen Boys Soccer remained undefeated in Three Rivers play with a 7-1 win over South Columbus. The match had been rescheduled from Monday.

Thursday, both South Columbus and Whiteville Volleyball swept its opponents to remain deadlocked with 15-1 records. East Columbus’ win over East Bladen clinched the TRC’s 1A automatic playoff bid. It wasn’t easy, but the Gators downed East Bladen in five sets. Set scores were 25-16, 26-28, 19-25, 25-18 and 15-10.

South Columbus’ 3-0 win over South Robeson also eliminated the Mustangs’ possibility of earning the top 1A seed. Set scores were 25-18, 25-10 and 25-15.

Whiteville spread the statistical wealth in its 25-18, 25-9 and 25-16 win over West Columbus. Six players were credited with four or more kills. Lilli Inman had eight and Logan Schultz five. Leah Nance, Olivia Smith, Nsaia Rogers and Marquasia Smith each had four kills. Inman dished out 22 assists. Rogers had 15 digs followed closely by Claire Smith with 14. Charlotte Herring served four aces and Schultz contributed two blocks.

Fairmont defeated Red Springs 3-0 and West Bladen beat St. Pauls 3-1.


South Columbus                    15-1

Whiteville                               15-1

Fairmont                                13-3

East Columbus (1A)             9-7

West Bladen                          7-9

South Robeson (1A)             6-10

Red Springs                           6-10

West Columbus (1A)              3-13

East Bladen                            4-12

St. Pauls                                  2-14

October 12

East Bladen 2 at East Columbus 3

West Columbus 0 at Whiteville 3

South Columbus 3 at South Robeson 0

St. Pauls 1 at West Bladen 3

Fairmont 3 at Red Springs 0

October 16

South Robeson at East Bladen

East Columbus at Fairmont

Whiteville at St. Pauls

West Bladen at South Columbus

Red Springs at West Columbus

October 17

South Columbus at Whiteville

East Columbus at West Columbus

West Bladen at East Bladen

Fairmont at South Robeson

St. Pauls at Red Springs

Regular season play completed.