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SportsTalk: Coach’s Corner Players Of The Week

In order to be a successful athletic program at any level, you have to have the players, and both Vance Co. High School and Henderson Collegiate have two such players: Jayla Taylor and Ellis Williams. These two athletes are this week’s WIZS Players of the Week.

Taylor has helped power the Vance Co. Women’s Vipers to three consecutive wins. Against South Granville Taylor contributed 17 rebounds, 12 points and a steal. Taylor added another 15 blocked shots, 9 rebounds and 7 points in the Viper’s win over Granville Central and against Carrboro she grabbed 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. An impressive set of numbers for Taylor earns her player of the week honors.

Over at Henderson Collegiate, Ellis Williams is putting up some impressive numbers as well. So far on the season, Williams is averaging 18.5 points per game, 3.5 steals and 4 rebounds. Against Eno River, Williams scored 15 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and made 5 steals and then against Heritage he contributed 22 points, 1 assist and 3 rebounds. His performance earns him player of the week honors.

Congratulations to Vance Co. High School’s Jayla Taylor and Henderson Collegiate’s Ellis Williams, this week’s WIZS Players of the Week.


Vance County High School

Vance Co. High School Basketball Games Scheduled for Fri., Jan 14 Postponed

According to an email sent to WIZS from Vance County High School Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Joe Sharrow, the JV, women’s varsity and boy’s varsity games scheduled between the Vipers and Southern Durham for Friday, January 14 have been postponed until Wednesday, February 2. The games will be played at their usual time on February 2 – JV at 4:30 p.m., Women’s Varsity at 6pm and Boy’s Varsity at 7:30 p.m.

SportsTalk: Tharp Has Settled In As AD Of JF Webb

It was Alex Tharp’s long-term goal to become athletic director at JF Webb High School in Oxford, but he thought that might happen a couple of years down the road. “The opportunity came earlier,” Tharp said. Tharp replaces Mike Carroll who is still at the school helping Tharp in his new position.

Of course, like so many ADs, Tharp is also a coach. He’s the head man for Webb’s varsity men’s basketball program. The Warriors are currently 7-9 on the season. The team started off hot but cooled recently. A win this week over Science and Math by the score of 77-47 has Tharp feeling good about the program. “We put it all together for an entire game,” Tharp said of the Warrior’s victory.

Some of the recent losses were to bigger 4A schools and that was by design according to Tharp. The idea was to schedule tough games early so the team would sharpen its skills for conference play. “We are figuring stuff out,” Tharp said of the Warriors.  That fits in with his goal for the season of stringing together a few wins which likely will come with the improved play Tharp hopes to see through the remainder of the season.

Friday, January 14th will see the Warriors taking on county rival Granville Central in a conference match up. Tharp says Granville Central is playing well. It should be a terrific 32 minutes of basketball tomorrow night in Granville County.

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Coach’s Corner: Kayla Simmons WIZS Player Of The Week Honors

“We don’t often play in close games,” said Vance Charter Knights’ head women’s basketball coach Brian Howard on the Coach’s Corner of SportsTalk with Trey Snide. However, the Knights found themselves in a nail biter this week against Granville Central.  The 6 – 3 Knights scored with 4 seconds left to pull out a 60 – 59 win over Granville Central who fell to 5 – 6.  Kayla Simmons was the game’s hero scoring the last second basket. She totaled 17 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. With her performance, she was named WIZS Player of the Week.

Simmons and the Knights got off to a great start with an early 15 point lead but a series of turnovers allowed Granville Central to get back in the game. Coach Howard said the close game was beneficial to his team. The Knights get a lot of minutes from two freshmen and Howard said the stress of a close game was helpful to those freshmen players.

In speaking about the Granville Central game after Simmons hit the winning shot Howard said is first thought wasn’t about the shot but about getting back on defense. Four seconds can be an eternity in basketball and Howard wanted to make sure his team was prepared for a last second shot by Granville Central.

Howard said he expects that level of play from Simmons every game, She certainly delivered against Granville Central.  Congratualations to Kayla Simmons, the WIZS Player of the Week.


TownTalk: Kevin Britton is the new Program Specialist at Recreation Dept.

Young athletes who dream of playing at the college level and beyond should take a page from Kevin Britton’s life playbook – pages filled with plays his mom, grandmother and others drew up for him that involve discipline, leadership, giving back to the community.

And sports. Oh yes, sports.

Britton said he’s been in love with sports since he was 8 years old. Fast-forward a few decades and Britton is bringing that passion to Henderson in his role as program specialist for the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department.

Born and raised in Durham, Britton said he is looking forward to putting in place programming for the whole community – it’s not going to be limited to young people. Or to athletics, for that matter.

“I have been given the opportunity to create programs through recreation and parks to benefit the community,” he told John C. Rose on Monday’s Town Talk.

“I’m talking about the whole community, not just the youth.” He said he was raised by his grandmother, who was fond of saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Britton said. By helping senior adults in the community, he hopes programs will have a domino effect to the middle-aged and to youth as well.

“I truly believe if we can help the community as a whole, it’s better.”

In addition to his family, it was his participation in the Durham Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Clubs when he was a youngster that opened the world of sports to Britton. “I received a lot of love” at the Boys & Girls Club, he said. “It was very important in the growth of my younger years.”

The foundations and basics he learned early served him well – he played basketball at Durham High School and earned a scholarship to play at N.C. Central University. The 1989 Eagles’ team won the NCAA Division II national championship.

Basketball gave Britton the opportunity to see beyond his community and to claim achievements that otherwise may not have been possible for him to attain. Having a network of support, be it from family members, fellow players or coaches, is key for young people today, he said.

“I feel like recreation is the foundation,” Britton said. Children who start playing at the rec league level can develop that “basketball IQ” that benefits the players – and the programs they play for – later on.

Part of that sports IQ, if you ask Britton, is having a Plan B. The development of the student athlete – student first, athlete second – is something that he stresses.

“If you don’t have the grades, you can’t play. You may be the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James, but if you don’t have the grades, the world won’t see it,” he said.

“One day the air’s going to come out of the ball,” he said. When that happens, he says, “you can fall back on your education and still be a winner.”

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Britton Brings Passion For Sports To Job At HVRPD

The Henderson-Vance Recreation & Parks Department has a new program specialist, according to information from assistant director Tara Goolsby.

Kevin Britton, a Durham native, joins the department and brings a love of all sports and enthusiasm for improving the community, according to a press release.

Britton said he he’s had a passion for sports and recreation since he was 8 years old through his local Boys & Girls club. He graduated from Durham High School and attended N.C. Central University on a basketball scholarship. He was a member of the 1989 Eagles national championship team.

After college, he worked for the Durham Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, was an assistant basketball coach at the Durham School of the Arts and coached a nationally ranked Division I AAU basketball team.

In his spare time, Britton enjoys fishing and spending time with his new grandson.

HVRPD welcomes Britton to the community.

Crossroads Christian School

SportsTalk: Holiday Tournament Looms For Crossroads Christian

We are all expecting gifts this time of year, but Scottie Richardson is looking for a Christmas tournament championship under the tree for Crossroads Christian this week. Richardson, the Athletic Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach, has the Colts on a roll as they head into the Greenfield Christmas Basketball Tournament in Wilson. After a slow start Crossroads has won five in a row and stand at 7-3 on the season as tournament play begins tonight against Richmond Christian at 6pm.

The tournament, which Crossroads has played in since 2012, features some strong competition including Grace Christian, Wayne Country Day and Greenfield which is ranked #1 in the state and in the top 20 nationally. Before Richardson and the Colts can think about those teams they must take care of business tonight against Richmond.  “They have a 6’11” center who is a real shot blocker and they are athletic,” said Richardson of Richmond. “But they are not deep,” he continued. That may be where Crossroads has a decided advantage. Richardson explained that Crossroads has four seniors that come off the bench and are as deep as they have been in a long time and now that Crossroads is healthy the team is rolling.  They won two games in a tournament last weekend and are hoping for three wins at Greenfield over the next three days.

Once Crossroads finishes with the tournament the work doesn’t let up as conference play begins after the holidays.

SportsTalk Omari Allen Signs Letter Of Intent With ECU

Vance County High School’s 2021 football season resulted in a trip to the state playoffs. One of the big reasons, and that’s a term that certainly fits this story, is Omari Allen. Allen was a lineman for the Vipers and a good one.  Good enough to garner the attention of East Carolina University.  On Wednesday, Allen signed his national letter of intent to play for the Pirates.  Allen received an official offer this past June and Allen spoke with his coaches at length about the decision to attend ECU.

At yesterday’s signing, held at the school’s library, Vance Co. High School Athletic Director Joe Sharrow said he was very, very proud of Allen’s accomplishments over the course of his high school career.  “Allen embodies the term “leadership”,” said Head Football Coach Wilbur Pender. “He provided great input and feedback to the coaching staff,” Pender continued. Allen credits Pender with turning the school’s football program around and said it has been fairly easy navigating the changes that have come through the school with different head coaches and the consolidation of Northern and Southern Vance that happened during his high school football career.

In addition to his coaches and Vipers players, Allen had many family members present. Allen’s mother described her son as a gentle boy who was always huge. “Every mom know it’s a lot taking care of a child. It’s not always easy,” she said. She said Omari had great support from the coaching staff. “He’s worked really hard but I’m not ready for him to leave,” she added.

His grandmother was also in attendance at the signing ceremony and said it was a bittersweet day. She said Omari would do anything for her such as mowing grass and other household chores. She also said he really enjoys her cooking.

Allen took the signing opportunity to thank all of the school’s staff, coaches, players and family members who have made it possible for him to continue his football journey at East Carolina.  Allen says he plans to play 10 to 15 plays a game as a freshman and to make an impact immediately at ECU.


SportsTalk: Introducing Mike Joyner, The New AD At Kerr Vance Academy

Mike Joyner has been named as the new Athletic Director for Kerr Vance Academy.  His first day on the job isn’t until February 1st, but Joyner has already been on campus to meet people and take in a basketball game.

Joyner, who currently is in the same position at Wake Forest High School, got his career underway coaching middle school baseball in Johnston County in 1994. He also was a coach at Smithfield-Selma High School as well.

Joyner, who spoke with Trey Snide on Thursday’s edition of SportsTalk, says he is looking forward to getting his hands dirty and starting a new chapter in his career at KVA. “I’m excited about taking over a program with such a rich history.” KVA has multiple state championships in a variety of sports.

At Wake Forest High School, Joyner enjoyed the football season. “It will be really different without football,” Joyner said when describing the transition to KVA.

“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Joyner said when asked about his immediate goals at the school. He is looking forward to meeting the people involved with the school and immersing himself in KVA’s culture along with involving himself with the booster club.

He has already had the opportunity to make assessments on the baseball field and he will have to hit the ground running on his first day, February 1st as KVA has a basketball game scheduled that night.