Holiday in the Pines Back for Seventh Go-Round
By Charlie Bergmann
Special to The Pilot
The Holiday-in-the-Pines boys' basketball tournament hosted by Pinecrest rarely disappoints when it comes to providing an exciting finale.
The seventh annual celebration of high school basketball begins with four first-round games on Monday at James Moore Gym. The event continues with second-round tilts on Tuesday and concludes with three consolations and the championship contest on Wednesday.
Joining the Patriots (8-0) in the field are returnees in Trinity Christian (8-3), Richmond Senior (5-1), Overhills (4-5) and West Montgomery (3-2). Raleigh Broughton (4-3), Fuqua-Varina (1-9) and Southern Lee (6-4) are all making their first appearance.
"There are a lot of teams that have done very well this year," Pinecrest coach Mike Apple said before a recent practice. "I think consistency is the word for everyone. We're all searching for it, looking for an identity going into the most important part of the season in January and February, conference play."
Apple puts his squad in that category in spite of its perfect record. The Patriots have won their last six games by an average of 21 points, but none of them came against 4A competition.
The Pats are led in scoring by Daquain Towns (13.0 points per game), Faronte Drakeford (11.6) and Julian Brewer (10.1). Point guard Phillip Wallace is averaging 7.6 points, three assists and two steals.
The tournament bracket allows for the possibility of a Trinity Christian-Pinecrest meeting in the final game. A finalist in a losing cause against Wakefield in 2006, the Crusaders are led by six-foot-nine South Carolina commit Damontre Harris. And swingman Tommy McLean scored a tournament-high 30 points in one of last year's games.
Trinity will be without guard Damien Steadman, however, after the senior was barred from participating in the tournament by the Moore County school system. The action was taken because Steadman was ajudicated delinquent in juvenile court for firing a handgun on the campus of Pinehurst Elementary School in March of 2007.
As attractive as a Trinity-Pinecrest final looks on paper, there are six other teams that will be gunning for the first-place trophy, including Richmond Senior, under new coach David Laton. Laton has been an assistant coach at Maryland and Navy in addition to being the head coach at West Forsyth when Chris Paul played there.
Apple has had no trouble filling the field each year. The tournament began with a big splash in 2003 when Danny Green (UNC, Cleveland Cavaliers) led St. Mary's (N.Y.) to a 66-59 victory over Wakefield in the final. The largest margin of victory in the next five championship games was four points.
Pinecrest has earned a spot in the final three times, winning the championship against Keenan (S.C.) in 2007, and finishing second to Lee County in 2006 and Wakefield last year.
"It's fun getting to see four games a day against well-coached teams for the most part, and watching guys that are getting after it," Apple said. "It's always fun watching high school basketball, no doubt about it."
Schedule: Mon. - Game 1 - 2 p.m. Southern Lee-Trinity Christian; Game 2 - 3:30 p.m. Fuquay-Varina-Overhills; Game 3 - 6 p.m. Broughton-Richmond; Game 4 - 7:30 p.m. West Montgomery-Pinecrest; Tues. - Game 5 - 2 p.m. Loser G1 - Loser G3; Game 6 - 3:30 p.m. Loser G2 - Loser G4; Game 7 - 6 p.m. Winner G1 - Winner G3; Game 8 - 7:30 p.m. Winner G2 - Winner G4; Wed. - Seventh place - 2 p.m. Loser G5 - Loser G6; Fifth place 3:30 p.m. Winner G5 - Winner G6; Third place - 6 p.m. Loser G7 - Loser G8; Championship game - 7:30 p.m. Winner G7 - Winner G8.
Past championship game results and MVPs
2003 St. Mary's (NY) 66, Wakefield 59, Danny Green (St. Mary's)
2004 Enloe 58, Lee County 55, D. J. Brandon (Enloe)
2005 Lee County 56, Pinecrest 55, Dennis Godfrey (Lee)
2006 Wakefield 43, Trinity Christian 39, Darius Johnson-Odom (Wakefield)
2007 Pinecrest 68, Keenan (SC) 65, Jarrin Wooten (Pinecrest)
2008 Wakefield 62, Pinecrest 52, Antonio Stabler (Wakefield)
Most points in a game - individual
32 Brandon Johnson, E.E. Waddell (2006)
31 Corey Evans, Northern Durham (2003)
30 Corey Evans, Northern Durham (2003)
30 Tyson Johnson, St. Mary's (2003)
30 Tommy McLean, Trinity Christian (2008)
Most points in a game - team
108 St. Mary's 108, Northern Durham 90 (2003)
98 St. Mary's 98, Pinecrest 58 (2003)
94 Lee County 94, Overhills 76 (2006)
91 Hoke County 91, Northwood 88 (2003)
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