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Vick leads Firebirds to title game

FARRIS & THOMAS HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT


Southern Nash’s Jordan Vick dribbles past Beddingfield’s Isaiah Dunston. The Firebirds defeated the Bruins 72-44 in the first game of the boys bracket of the 2022 Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament at Beddingfield High. Vick scored a game-high 29 points. Andrew Schnittker | Times

After finishing third in its first appearance in the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament last season, the Southern Nash High boys basketball team will play for all the marbles this year. 

Behind 29 points from star point guard Jordan Vick, the Firebirds advanced to Thursday’s championship with a 72-44 victory over host Beddingfield on Tuesday night. 



The 3-A Firebirds of the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference, who remained unbeaten on the season at 9-0, took a seven-point lead into halftime before sprinting away with a 43-22 second half in which their lead grew to as much as 31 points. 

“Jordan played well,” said Southern Nash head coach Robbie Kennedy. “Early on, we didn’t play really well. We weren’t rebounding really well, we were fouling too much. In the second half, we did a better job of getting some steals, getting out in transition.”

The long-range shot was the Firebirds’ friend, as Southern Nash knocked down 10 3-pointers on the night. The team also controlled the boards in the second half, and generated plentiful second-chance points off offensive rebounds. 

“We’ve got some guys that can shoot,” Kennedy said. “We haven’t shot the ball really well all year. When Jordan shoots more of a set shot, he shoots it really well, as opposed to when he jumps. … He hit a bunch. We made open shots.” 

Vick’s 29 points led the Firebirds, followed by Israel Whitaker with 10.

Beddingfield’s Zimire Avery goes for a layup against Southern Nash. The Firebirds defeated the Bruins 72-44 in the first game of the boys bracket of the 2022 Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament at Beddingfield High. Andrew Schnittker | Times

“I think I was just feeling the ball,” Vick said. “I felt my shot a lot better. I went to the gym earlier today and I got some shots up to get my shot right. So I was ready.”   

The 2-A Neuse 6 Conference Bruins (3-7) were done in by missed opportunities in the first half, which doomed them as Southern Nash’s shooters caught fire in the second. 

Zimire Avery led the Bruins with 16 points, followed by Taevon Edwards with 11. 

“We couldn’t hit shots in the first half, and then that just started killing our momentum and energy,” said Beddingfield head coach Anthony Burns. “Vick started hitting a couple big 3s, we had a few turnovers and it just went sideways.” 

After the Firebirds took a 12-6 lead through a defensive slugfest of a first quarter, both teams started to get shots to fall in the second, and Southern Nash took a 29-22 lead into halftime. 

With the Firebirds up 37-27 about halfway through the third quarter, Vick buried 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to balloon Southern Nash’s lead to a game-high 16. 

That sparked what turned into a 15-4 run to end the frame for the Firebirds, as Southern Nash continued to lock the Bruins down and get out in transition, with Thomas Copeland also knocking down a 3 to allow the visitors to take a 50-31 lead into the fourth.

Southern Nash’s Jayden Whitaker drives past Beddingfield’s Taevon Edwards. The Firebirds defeated the Bruins 72-44 in the first game of the boys bracket of the 2022 Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament at Beddingfield High. Andrew Schnittker | Times

“Defensively, we played man pretty much the whole second half instead of playing zone. That gave them a lot of problems,” Kennedy said. “Jordan, Jayden (Whitaker) and Thomas do a really good job on the ball, so they cause a lot of turnovers. And we wanted to make them shoot jump shots, because I didn’t think they could shoot really well. They missed some shots and we were able to get out in transition.” 

The Firebirds kept pulling away to start the fourth quarter, starting it with a 12-0 run in the first three minutes to balloon their lead to an unassailable 31 as Vick and Israel Whitaker each buried 3-pointers. 

“We see a couple go in and our eyes get really big,” Vick said. “We shoot a lot of them.” 

While Beddingfield did not get the result it hoped for on its home court, it will get a shot at a rubber match with one of its county rivals. The Bruins will take on the loser of Wednesday’s game between Hunt and Fike in the third-place game Thursday at 5 p.m. as they look to regroup.

“That’s up to them,” Burns said. “I told those guys, we come in here and play at 5 o’clock, consolation game. It doesn’t really mean much, but if they want to win a rubber match against Hunt or Fike, they’ve got to come ready to play.” 

Beddingfield’s Issac Pettaway looks for a passing option against Southern Nash’s Israel Whitaker (11). The Firebirds defeated the Bruins 72-44 in the first game of the boys bracket of the 2022 Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament at Beddingfield High. Andrew Schnittker | Times

The Firebirds will now play for the championship in just their second year as a participant in Wilson’s Yuletide dribblefest, as they’ll face the winner of the Hunt-Fike matchup Thursday with an 8 p.m. tip-off.  The last time a team from outside Wilson County won a boys Christmas tournament championship was C.B. Aycock in 1994.

“We talked before we left school today, we said we wanted to go over here and go 2-0,” Kennedy said. “Take it one game at a time, but we wanted to be playing at 8 on Thursday and see what happens. We’ve done the first step, so we’ll see what happens on Thursday.” 

SOUTHERN NASH (72)

Vick 29, I Whitaker 10, Copeland 9, J Whitaker 6, Alford 3, TJ Whitaker 3, Baker 2, Saunders 2, Mitchell 2, Baker 2.

BEDDINGFIELD (44)

Avery 16, Edwards 11, Bradford 9, Hall 2, Dunston 2, Newsome 2, Pettaway 1, King 1. 

Score by quarters:

SN 12 17 21 22 — 72

Bedd 7 15 9 13 — 44

Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament Glance

All games played at Beddingfield High

GIRLS

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Fike 78, Hunt 59

Beddingfield 59, Southern Nash 32

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Third-place game — Hunt vs. Southern Nash, 6 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 29

Championship game — Fike vs. Beddingfield, 6:30 p.m.

BOYS

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Southern Nash 72, Beddingfield 44

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Hunt vs. Fike, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 29

Third-place game — Beddingfield vs. Hunt-Fike loser, 5 p.m.

Championship game — Southern Nash vs. Hunt-Fike winner, 8 p.m.