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Improved Bruins, undefeated Firebirds highlight FTHT boys field



Beddingfield’s Asun Pender (3) and Hunt’s Drew Pittman battle for positioning. Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Next week, after stockings have been emptied, presents unwrapped, prime rib, turkey and ham consumed and Amazon gift cards put to good use, Wilson sports fans can turn their attention to the hardwood. 

The Wilson Christmas tournament will return for its 46th run and second straight as the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament, with Beddingfield set to host this year’s edition of the Yuletide dribblefest, featuring Hunt, Fike, Beddingfield, and, for the second year in a row as the visiting team, Southern Nash. 



Christmas tournaments like the Farris & Thomas are an opportunity for communities to come together and see their local teams, and for the teams themselves to focus entirely on basketball. 

“It’s just fun,” said Beddingfield boys head coach Anthony Burns. “You don’t have the pressure of school. Kids get to sleep in. Their friends and family might be in town to watch the games. It’s just all about basketball, hanging out and having a good time.” 

Last year’s boys tournament saw Hunt defeat Fike in the championship game for the Warriors’ fourth straight Christmas tournament title, with Southern Nash claiming third place with a win over the Bruins. 

The 2022 boys tournament will start with Beddingfield against Southern Nash on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 8 p.m., followed by Hunt vs. Fike the following day at 7:30 p.m.

BRUINS DISPLAYING GROWTH 

Host Beddingfield has plenty to feel good about coming into the Christmas tournament. The Bruins are 3-6 overall, which is already a one-game improvement over last season’s two-win total. 

In Burns’ second year, Beddingfield has gotten tangible results to go with the strides the players have made on and off the court, including wins over county rivals Hunt and Fike. 

“I think we’re playing really good,” Burns said. “The biggest news I got today is all my guys are going to be eligible. They all passed their finals, and every single one of them’s going to eligible to continue for the second semester. So that’s a big win for me as a coach. So I think with that behind us and continuing to roll forward, we’re playing at a high level.”

Going into last year’s tournament, the Bruins had just one win under their belts, and had lost to Hunt and Fike by wide margins. 

This year, they’ve taken a big step forward, and have gotten contributions from a large group of players, with Taevon Edwards, Issac Pettaway, Asun Pender, Zeth Bradford and more all coming up with big games thus far. 

“It’s night and day difference,” Burns said. “They’re buying into the culture of the program and what we’re trying to turn Beddingfield basketball into. They’re starting to buy in. They’re starting to listen. They’re starting to understand it. They’re starting to play it. It’s fun to see as a coach.” 

FIREBIRDS ROLLING

For Southern Nash, getting to play in the Farris & Thomas tournament is a chance to play teams in close proximity, and keep old conference rivalries with Hunt and Fike going. 

“As soon as we got split, I went to (Wilson County Schools Director of Athletics Jimmy Tillman) and said, ‘I’m interested in playing in the Christmas tournament if y’all have got an opening,’” said Southern Nash head coach Robbie Kennedy. “I’ve always thought that the Wilson tournament was really good. I thought (The Wilson Times) did a good job of promoting it. We play Fike, but we haven’t played Hunt or Beddingfield, but it give us a chance to play those guys. And it’s close for our fans.”

Southern Nash point guard Jordan Vick looks to dribble his way past Fike’s Dylan Skinner. Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

The Firebirds have to feel good about their chances to win this year’s tournament. They have to feel good about a whole lot. 

Southern Nash enters the Christmas tournament at 8-0 on the year, and 3-0 in 2-A/3-A Big East Nonconference play. The 3-A Firebirds been led by star point guard Jordan Vick, who’s averaging an eye-popping 26.4 points per game so far. The Firebirds have also gotten strong contributions from Jayden Whitaker (9.4 points per game), Landen Baker (7.6 points, team-leading 5.3 rebounds per game) and others. 

“That’s always good,” Kennedy said. “We’ve played really hard every game. We haven’t played well every game, but we’ve had guys make plays when we needed them to. We’ve got our rotation down pretty well. Getting Tralon Mitchell back from football adds a really good athlete that played a lot for us last year. We know it’s going to get tougher as we get deeper into conference play, so going to the tournament over there and playing some good quality people always helps.” 

HUNT EYES FIVE-PEAT

Hunt is looking to continue its historic run this year: The Warriors won the tournament for the fourth straight year in 2021, the first four-peat in tournament history. 

“Anytime the Christmas tournament comes up, that’s something that we’re eager to play and hopefully have a chance to win it again,” said Hunt head coach Dwight Taylor. 

After winning 21 games and romping through 3-A Quad County Conference play last season, it’s been a slower start for a young Warriors team. Hunt lost almost all of its starters from last season, including tournament MVP Ty’Chaun Clay. 

The Warriors are 3-6 overall and 1-1 in Quad County play, and ended the pre-Christmas schedule on a high note with a 60-51 win over Smithfield-Selma. Drew Pittman, the lone returning starter from last season, is Hunt’s leading scorer with 22 points per game, and leading rebounder (5.5 per game), followed by Jordan Scott with 12.5 points per game.

“We’re definitely underdogs this year with a very young team,” Taylor said. “…Experience is the main thing with us. We’ve been young and learning to play varsity basketball has been one of the biggest things for us. But we’re getting better each game, so hopefully we can come into the tournament, have a good showing and have a chance to win it.” 

FIKE SEEKS CONSISTENCY

The start of the 2022-23 season has been a mixed bag for Fike, last year’s runner up. The Golden Demons are 3-6 overall and 0-2 in Quad County Conference play. 

Fike has shown its potential with its long-range shooting and inside game in wins over SouthWest Edgecombe and Beddingfield, but has also struggled with turnovers in its defeats. 

Sophomore William Monk is Fike’s leading scorer with 12.7 points per game, while senior Caleb Willingham is averaging a double-double with 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Dylan Skinner (10.6) is also scoring in double figures for the Demons. 

“We’re kind of on again, off again,” said Fike head coach Brent Secrest. “We play really well at times, and then we don’t play well at times. We’ve had some pretty good practices here recently, so we’re hoping that’ll carry over into next week.” 

2022 Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament Glance

All games played at Beddingfield High

BOYS

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Beddingfield vs. Southern Nash, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 28

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

Thursday, Dec. 29

Third-place game, 5 p.m. 

Championship game, 8 p.m.

Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament Boys Glance

This year marks the 46th rendition of the Wilson holiday boys basketball tournament, formerly the Eastern Carolina Classic and Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament, and now the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament. 

BOYS TITLES

Hunt 16

Fike 14

Beddingfield 10

Northern Nash 2

Charles B. Aycock 1

Rocky Mount 1

Lee County 1

BOYS RUNNER-UP FINISHES

Hunt 14

Fike 14

Beddingfield 9

Greene Central 3

Saratoga Central 1

Fayetteville Westover 1

Fayetteville Cape Fear 1

Raleigh Athens Drive 1

Raleigh Sanderson 1

2021 CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT

Hunt 62, Fike 44

DECEMBER 18 is the earliest date the tournament has started, with the 2017 tournament as the only one to be held before Christmas.

TY’CHAUN CLAY of Hunt was named the Harvey Reid Jr. Most Valuable Player of the 2021 tournament.

SOUTHERN NASH, which made its debut as the guest school in 2021, the 26th boys team and 23rd girls team to play in the tournament.

GREENE CENTRAL was the invited guest school more than any other, participating in 16 straight tournaments from 1997 to 2012.

SMITHFIELD-SELMA is next with a string of six appearances that ended in 2019.

FOUR PLAYERS  from the 2021 FTHT all-tournament team — Hunt’s Drew Pittman, Fike’s Caleb Willingham, Southern Nash’s Jordan Vick and Beddingfield’s Taevon Edwards — are playing in this year’s tourney.

HUNT passed Fike for most championships in 2019 and added to it last year with its tournament-record 16th crown.

THE WARRIORS have three-peated twice, 1995-97 and 2017-2019, while Fike accomplished the feat from 1986-88.  

THE HOST TEAM has won the boys tournament title 17 times in 45 years, most recently by Hunt in 2021, the sixth time the Warriors have done it. Fike has won it at home seven times while Beddingfield has done it four times each.

BEDDINGFIELD is hosting the tournament for the 15th time, tying it with Hunt for the most times. The first two ECC tourneys were held in Wilson Gymnasium on the Atlantic Christian, now Barton College, campus.

HUNT extended its championship game appearance streak to 17 years. 

HUNT-FIKE has been the championship game 15 times overall. 

THE RECORD for biggest margin of victory in a title game is now Hunt’s after beating Beddingfield by 37 points in 2018, erasing Fike’s 92-59 ripping of Hunt in 2008. There have been six one-point finals, including last year, and 23 have been decided by five or fewer points.

BEDDINGFIELD was the first Wilson team to win the tournament when it beat Fike in the 1979 title game.

FOUR CHAMPIONSHIP games have gone to overtime with three needing two extra periods to settle matters.

THE 2008 CHAMPIONSHIP featured 151 total points in Fike’s 92-59 conquest of Hunt and tied the 1988 championship game as the highest scoring ECC final. Fike defeated Raleigh Sanderson, 80-71. The fewest points (69) in a final, by far, was Fike’s 35-34 defeat of Hunt in 2005.

SOUTHERN NASH will attempt to become the first non-Wilson team to win a boys tournament championship since C.B. Aycock in 1994.

GREENE CENTRAL was the last non-Wilson team to reach the boys championship game, losing 52-39 to Hunt in 2006.

WILSON teams have won the championship every year since 1994 when C.B. Aycock won it.

ELM CITY and Saratoga Central are the only two Wilson County schools besides Beddingfield, Fike and Hunt to play in the tournament.

ROCKY MOUNT won the inaugural tournament in its only appearance in 1976.

TWO BOYS MVPs, Rocky Mount’s Buck Williams (1976) and Fike’s Jamie Watson (1988), went on to play in the NBA.

NORTHERN NASH is the only school outside of Wilson to win more than one boys championship, claiming titles in 1977 and 1978 to cap the only multi-year stretch (3) in which a Wilson team didn’t win the boys tournament.

LEE COUNTY joins C.B. Aycock as the only visiting schools to have won both boys and girls titles.

DWIGHT TAYLOR of Hunt is the only coach to have not only played in the tournament (1977 with Fike and 1978 with Hunt) but also coached after coming out of retirement. Salute!

TAYLOR also owns the most boys championships, winning his 14th last year. That broke the tie with former Fike girls coach, the late Eddie Summerlin, who won 13 in 21 years.

WAYNE HARDY, former Hunt coach, is the only coach to win a girls and boys championship, leading the Lady Warriors to FFHT titles in 2011 and 2012 and taking the Warriors to the title in 2017.

JOSEPH PRYOR of C.B. Aycock in 1994 was the last boys MVP not on a Wilson team.

NOBODY has won the boys MVP award more than once although Edward Farmer of Beddingfield was the top vote-getter on the all-tournament team in 1979 and tied two others for the most votes in 1980.

THIS IS year 2 of the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament after nine years as the Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament. From 1976 to 2010, the event was called Eastern Carolina Classic.

EB SPORTS is sponsor of the tournament trophies, including the girls and boys MVP hardware.

ADMISSION: $10 per ticket each day.

TICKETS will be sold only at the door and for cash only.

SPECTATORS are urged to arrive early as metal detectors will be in place at the entrances. Doors will open 45 minutes prior to the first games each day, at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. There will be two entrance lines at the doors.

CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

BOYS

Year Result Site

1976 Rocky Mount 62, Saratoga Central 56 ACC

1977 Northern Nash 75, Fike 68 Atlantic Christian

1978 Northern Nash 68, Beddingfield 67 2OT Fike

1979 Beddingfield 51, Fike 40 Beddingfield

1980 Fike 64, Hunt 56 Hunt

1981 Beddingfield 48, Fike 46 2OT Fike

1982 Hunt 49, Westover 44 Beddingfield

1983 Beddingfield 62, Cape Fear 59 Hunt

1984 Fike 60, Beddingfield 55 Fike

1985 Beddingfield 67, Fike 65 2OT Beddingfield

1986 Fike 62, Athens Drive 56 Hunt

1987 Fike 77, Beddingfield 46 Fike

1988 Fike 80, Sanderson 71 Beddingfield

1989 Beddingfield 70, Hunt 68 Hunt

1990 Fike 66, Hunt 64 Fike

1991 Lee County 54, Hunt 52 Beddingfield

1992 Hunt 77, Fike 71 Hunt

1993 Fike 68, Beddingfield 58 Fike

1994 C.B. Aycock 59, Fike 58 Beddingfield

1995 Hunt 52, Beddingfield 51 Hunt

1996 Hunt 57, Fike 50 Fike

1997 Hunt 55, Beddingfield 54 Beddingfield

1998 Beddingfield 47, Hunt 42 Hunt

1999 Hunt 57, Fike 53 OT Fike

2000 Fike 53, Greene Central 51 Beddingfield

2001 Beddingfield 53, Hunt 42 Hunt

2002 Fike 48, Hunt 45 Fike

2003 Fike 62, Greene Central 55 Beddingfield

2004 Hunt 62, Beddingfield 50 Hunt

2005 Fike 35, Hunt 34 Fike

2006 Hunt 52, Greene Central 39 Beddingfield

2007 Hunt 56, Fike 44 Hunt

2008 Fike 92, Hunt 59 Fike

2009 Beddingfield 52, Hunt 50 Beddingfield

2010 Beddingfield 77, Hunt 74, OT Hunt

2011 Hunt 68, Fike 47 Fike

2012 Hunt 78, Beddingfield 55 Beddingfield

2013 Fike 52, Hunt 50 Hunt

2014 Hunt 64, Fike 60 Fike

2015 Beddingfield 66, Hunt 65 Beddingfield

2016 Fike 57, Hunt 55 Hunt

2017 Hunt 64, Fike 59 Fike

2018 Hunt 80, Beddingfield 43 Beddingfield

2019 Hunt 64, Fike 44 Hunt

2020 No tournament due to COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Hunt 62, Fike 43 Hunt

Boys Tournament MVP award winners

Winners of the Harvey Reid Jr. Most Valuable Player Award for the boys tournament in the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament (named the Eastern Carolina Classic from 1976-2010 and the Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament from 2011-2018). Prior to 1991, there was no MVP award and players listed below received the most votes on the all-tournament team.

2021 — Ty’Chaun Clay, Hunt

2020 — No tournament due to COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 — Shaq Wade, Hunt

2018 — Malcolm Coley, Hunt

2017 — Jameson Lucas, Hunt

2016 — Samson Strickland, Fike

2015 — Miguel Brown, Beddingfield

2014 — Jaylen Gilliam, Hunt

2013 — Trevon Virgil, Fike

2012 — Daniel Westbrook, Hunt

2011 — Justin Jefferson, Hunt

2010 — X-keem Jones, Beddingfield

2009 — Terry Davis, Beddingfield

2008 — Jeremy Atkinson, Fike

2007 — Jamil Creech, Hunt

2006 — Kason Cheeks, Hunt

2005 — Jonathan Foster, Fike

2004 — Devrine Barnes, Hunt

2003 — Tony Whitelow, Fike

2002  — Brandon Barnes, Fike

2001 — Pierre Parker, Beddingfield

2000 — B.J. Eddie, Fike

1999 — Michael Chestnut, Hunt

1998 — Antonio Locus, Beddingfield

1997 — Tim Carmichael, Hunt

1996 — Corey Cooper, Hunt

1995 — Justin Murray, Hunt

1994 — Joseph Pryor, C.B. Aycock

1993 —  Corey Best, Fike

1992 — Octavus Barnes, Hunt

1991  — Jeff Swann, Lee County

1990 — Vince Watkins, Beddingfield

1989 — Dennis Smith, Beddingfield

1988 — Jamie Watson, Fike

1987 — Colin Spady, Cary

1986 — Robert Clark, Raleigh Athens Drive

1985 — Greg Ballard, Beddingfield

1984 — Charles Howard, Fike

1983 — Eric Batts, Beddingfield

1982 — Larry Carter, Hunt

1981 — Thomas Lofton, Beddingfield; Danny Williams, Fike

1980 — Tracy Myles, Hunt; Edward Farmer, Beddingfield; William Miles, Fayetteville Terry Sanford

1979 — Edward Farmer, Beddingfield

1978 — Harold Tillery, Beddingfield; Nathan Arrington, Northern Nash

1977 — Bobby Hayes, Elm City

1976 — Buck Williams, Rocky Mount