The week ahead is one of the busiest and most exciting on the high school sports calendar with three rounds of basketball playoffs, beginning Monday and the start of the spring sports season on Wednesday.
Teams in the basketball playoffs shift to a Monday, Wednesday and Friday playing schedule. Squads that survive those three rounds move onto next week’s regionals in Fayetteville.
You’ll find the pairings online at newsobserver.com/preps as well as daily updates and stories.
Our wrap up coverage of the area conference tournaments will appear in Wednesday’s edition.
On the spring sports front, there’s plenty of afternoon baseball and softball on tap Wednesday as well as boys tennis and the first Greater Neuse River 4A Conference golf match of the season at River Ridge.
Thursday brings the start of the annual Johnston County girls soccer tournament, the Four Oaks Bank Cup that continues next week at North Johnston High School.
In Wednesday’s paper we will debut our week ahead column, which highlights matchups to watch, or trends to follow over the next seven days.
Clayton takes Wells Fargo Conference Cup lead: Clayton grabbed the lead in the Wells Fargo Conference Cup from Garner in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference after the winter season. The competition rewards schools based on their regular-season finish in each sport.
The Comets earned 102 points in the winter, with conference championships in boys and girls swimming and a share of the conference championship in boys basketball. Clayton was also second in girls indoor track and cheerleading.
Those finishes gave Clayton a 181 to 176 ½ lead on Garner for the year. Garner shared the boys basketball championship and finished second in both swimming standings and in gymnastics.
West Johnston, conference champs in wrestling, is third with 156 1/2 points, ahead of Knightdale with 153 ½, Southeast Raleigh (142 ½) East Wake (139 ½), Harnett Central (132) and Smithfield-Selma (118 ½).
Junior varsity soccer teams down: Only have of the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference schools will field junior varsity girls soccer teams this spring. Garner, Clayton, Smithfield-Selma and Knightdale will have junior varsity teams.
Schools without junior varsity teams will begin varsity matches at 6 p.m. instead of the standard 6:30 when playing schools with JV and varsity squads.
Softball start times will also vary for a few GNRC schools. West Johnston, Smithfield-Selma and Garner will start their home varsity games at 6 p.m. Knightdale begins its varsity games at 6:30.
All other member schools are set for the standard 7 p.m. starts.
Johnson ties ECU school record: Smithfield-Selma High graduate Henry Johnson tied the East Carolina University school record in the pole vault earlier this month during a meet at UNC-Chapel Hill. Johnson cleared 16 feet, three-quarters of an inch.
The junior is a former NCSHAA 4A state champion in the pole vault and was seventh in the Conference USA outdoor championships last spring.
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