Eight prep basketball champions to be determined tonight

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 12:57 AM

This could be the last time Isaiah Hicks does his thing in what is expected to be a sold-out Chapel Hill High School gym, where his Webb Warriors from Oxford will scrap with Chapel Hill for the 3-A Carolina Conference tournament championship tonight around 7:45 p.m.

Of course, however it turns out, Hicks (6-8, 210) will be back in Chapel Hill soon enough. He’s told North Carolina coach Roy Williams that he’ll play for him next season and has signed his name on the dotted line to prove it.

Both Williams and some of UNC’s players have received heroes’ welcomes at past Webb-Chapel Hill matchups. 

In the 4-A PAC-6 tournament championship game, No. 2 Hillside will play No. 1 Jordan at 8 p.m.

First-year Northwood coach Donald Williams will host veteran Carrboro coach John Alcox at 8 p.m. in Pittsboro for the 2-A Carolina 12 tournament championship.

Carrboro is the top seed and Northwood is No. 2.

Williams was the most outstanding player of the Final Four when UNC won the national title in 1993.

The 1-A Carolina 12 tournament championship will go to either No. 1 River Mill or No. 2 Voyager. That game is scheduled to tip at Voyager around 8 p.m.

Webb and Chapel Hill split victories in their two meetings during the regular season, and the ball clubs possibly could get it on one more time in the state playoffs.

Chapel Hill coach Tod Morgan doesn’t have a major talent like Hicks, but what he’s done is gotten a whole bunch of pieces to fit together very nicely, and that goes a long way in explaining his selection as the conference’s coach of the year.

see champions/page b3

No. 1 Chapel Hill and No. 2 Webb ended the regular season as co-champs of their league. The luck of a draw determined their seeding for the conference tournament.

Cardinal Gibbons coach Marque Carrington has sent guys on the floor to deal with both of those teams.

The Carolina conference title will go to the team that can more effectively force its agenda on the other one, Carrington said.

“It’s going to be a contrast of styles,” Carrington said. “It’s going to be a chess match.”

The Tigers must keep the game at a nice-and-easy pace by running their sets on offense, and what that will do is limit the Warriors’ possessions, Carrington said.

“Webb wants to speed the game up,” Carrington said. “They don’t want to play a half-court game. They have no desire to do that.”

The Warriors like to step on the gas on defense to get teams to take quick shots so they can get up and down the court, Carrington said.

Yet Webb coach Leo Brunelli doesn’t look too far down his bench for subs, so a pressing Warriors team is bound to get tired against a deep Chapel Hill squad, Carrington said.

“I just can’t imagine Oxford Webb being able to press the whole game and it be effective,” Carrington said. “I just don’t see that happening.”

Chapel Hill should be fine if Hicks get his points as long as the rest of the Warriors don’t go off, Carrington said.

Webb, on the other hand, had better attack the glass, because Chapel Hill sure will, Carrington said.

“You’ve got to keep those guys off the boards,” Carrington said. “They do a great job of gang rebounding.”

What Chapel Hill lacks in athleticism is offset by experience, Carrington said.

“They’re not the most athletic guys you’re going to find,” Carrington said. “These seniors know how to win. They’ve won a lot of dadgum games, man.

“They do simple stuff, but they do it well. ... They don’t have any bona fide stars, but they just get it done as a group.”

The Tigers do have “The Beast,” senior Anthony Vanhook (6-4, 204), a brawny kid with nice touch in the paint.

“If I’m Brunelli, you play him straight up,” Carrington said. “Vanhook is good. He’s not a jump shooter. He plays well around the basket. But you’ve just got to keep him off the boards.

“He makes the craziest shots around the basket. ... He’s really good at throwing it up, and it’ll be a crazy shot, but he’ll go and get the rebound before the next guy jumps once -- he’ll jump twice. He’s really crafty. He’s crafty around the basket, man.”

Hillside coach Ovester Grays has his girls in the 4-A PAC-6 tournament championship.

Again.

This season marks eight years since Hillside rejoined the PAC-6, and the Hornets have played for the tournament championship in each of those campaigns, winning five times, Grays said.

First-year Southern coach Monique Fearrington will be looking to get her first PAC-6 tournament title this evening at 6 p.m. at Northern High School.

But she’ll have to go through Grays’ girls to do it.

“The expectation of us playing for championships is there every year,” Grays said.

Since rejoining the PAC-6, Hillside has won the regular-season title five times, sharing the crown with Northern on two of those occasions, Grays said.

It’s all about championships for Chapel Hill coach Sherry Norris, too.

Norris has won a bunch of basketball games, not that she’s counting. 

“Other people get into it. I don’t. It’s over 500 now,” Norris said when asked about the number of career wins she has. “I don’t have a clue.”

That would be exactly 505 career wins for Norris.

Southern Vance coach Amy Simpson could tell you where she was when Norris got milestone win No. 500 -- on the opposing bench.

Simpson will try to add a more positive historical note to her own career tonight when she leads the No. 3 Raiders into battle against Norris’ top-seeded Tigers at Chapel Hill at 6 p.m.

In the 2-A Carolina 12, No. 3 Granville Central gets a shot at No. 1 Northwood for the tournament title at 6 p.m., while Voyager Academy will be the host site when No. 2 Franklin Academy and No. 1 River Mill play for the 1-A Carolina 12 tournament championship at 6:30 p.m.