Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Thursday will tip off the sixth annual John Jacobs Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament at Cleveland High School that includes 16 teams playing eight games a day for three days, including seven Johnston County teams (Clayton girls, Cleveland boys and girls, Corinth Holders boys and girls and West Johnston boys and girls).
The teams from out of county are Wake Christian and North Raleigh Christian (boys only) of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 4-A Triangle Conference, Rocky Mount of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A Big East Conference, Nash Central of the NCHSAA 2-A Eastern Plains Conference and Fuquay-Varina of the NCHSAA 4-A South Wake Athletic Conference. Games will start at 10 a.m. each day and the last games are scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m.
Corinth Holders (7-2) of NCHSAA 4-A Northern Athletic Conference team will tip off the tourney against Clayton (7-1) of the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference. The Lady Comets are the only team that has defeated the Lady Pirates this season including the Dec. 20 loss, 61-42.
“That’s going to be one of our big challenges,” Lady Pirates head coach Shannon Lee said. “Our team is ready to see some competition from outside the county as well. But we are really just wanting to go in there and play our best.”
The Lady Pirates have played just one team from outside of Johnston County. If Corinth-Holders wins, it would see the winner of West Johnston (5-4) of the 3-A Greater Neuse vs Nash Central (2-4) on Thursday at 4 p.m.
The ladies in purple and gold have held every team with the exception of Clayton under 50 points. Corinth Holders averages 52 points game in their wins, but against Clayton the Lady Pirates mount 43.5 points a game.
Lee says she’s interested to see how her team performs against the out-of-county teams who have traditionally given the Lady Pirates trouble, because Corinth Holders plays differently this year, with more spacing on the court, than they have in the past.
“With our new style of play we’re really looking to test what we can do with the more athletic teams,” Lee said.
The Pirates (5-4) will take on North Raleigh Christian (0-9) at 11:30 a.m in the second game of the tournament. If the Pirates win they would take on the winner of Nash Central (1-6) versus West Johnston (1-8) at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Corinth Holders come into tournament having lost three of their last four games, including their last game to Clayton, 63-42, on Dec. 20. First-year head coach for Corinth Holders, James Jenkins, just wants his team to play their best.
“I like to control the controllables so the only thing I can control is how hard our team plays and how much we run,” Jenkins said. “It’s always good to play different opponents and I know a lot of times we want to play the Johnston County schools, but to play somebody from a different areas to give our guys a little bit of a different feel. (I) think that’s always good thing — a little bit of a difference to help prepare us for later on in the season.”