Firebirds take court in holiday tourney | The Enterprise
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Firebirds take court in holiday tourney

Posted on December 27, 2021

SportsSchool Sports
Southern Nash’s Jordan Vick (1) shoots a 3-pointer during a 66-44 home win over Fike on Nov. 23.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash’s Jordan Vick (1) shoots a 3-pointer during a 66-44 home win over Fike on Nov. 23.

Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament

James B. Hunt High School, Wilson.

Tuesday, Dec. 28


• Beddingfield vs. Fike, 5 p.m.

• Hunt vs. Southern Nash, 6:30 p.m.


• Hunt vs. Southern Nash, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 29


• Third-place game, 6 p.m.


• Fike vs. Beddingfield, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 29


• Championship, 6:30 p.m.


• Third-place game, 5 p.m.

• Championship, 8 p.m. | 252-265-7807 | Twitter: @aschnitt53

WILSON — After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament is back this year with the 45th edition of the Christmas basketball classic.

Hunt High will host the tournament this year as all participants look forward to the crowds’ return.

“It’ll be great,” said Hunt head coach Dwight Taylor. “It should be exciting not just for the players but for the whole city. I think everybody enjoys the Christmas tournament. It’s a good time of the year for basketball, and it’s been a tradition for us for many years. We all enjoy it.”

Hunt, Fike and Beddingfield are all back in the tournament, and, this year, for the first time, Southern Nash will join the group.

With this year’s realignment that saw the Firebirds join the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference, Hunt and Fike enter the new 3-A Quad County Conference and the Bruins enter the 2-A Neuse 6 Conference, this is a chance to maintain local rivalries.

“We’d been in a conference with Hunt and Fike forever,” said Southern Nash head coach Robbie Kennedy. “So this was one way that we could still try to schedule them a little bit since our conference is so big. … It’s always a good crowd there. Our guys are excited about playing in it.”

For the three Wilson schools, the inclusion of a strong opponent like Southern Nash will help prepare them for the rest of their seasons in the new year.

“Southern Nash is a great team,” said Fike head coach Brent Secrest. “Very physical team, we’ve already played them twice. They’ve beat us twice. But that’s great competition. Robbie does a great job with them over there, and that’s great competition for us leading into the conference and toughening us up.”

The boys side of the tournament will open at 8 p.m. Tuesday with a highly anticipated showdown between Hunt and Southern Nash.

Fike and Beddingfield will face off on Wednesday, with the third-place and championship games set for Thursday.


Southern Nash has already played Fike twice this year, both wins for the Firebirds. However, with the new alignment, Tuesday’s highly anticipated matchup is the only chance they’ll get to see Hunt this regular season.

“I’ve been here for 23 years and we’ve always played Hunt and Fike,” Kennedy said. “We actually played Fike this year in nonconference. We weren’t able to schedule Hunt, but playing them, especially as close as we are, we have good rivalries and always have good crowds. We usually have really good games. I just think it’s a win for our community and their community.”

The Firebirds are on a roll to start the 2021-22 season, with a one-point road loss to South Granville in their third game the only blemish in a 7-1 start.

This will be the second holiday tournament for the Firebirds this season, with Southern Nash capturing the Deacon Jones Christmas Tournament championship with a 69-41 win over host Princeton on Dec. 22.

Jordan Vick and T.J. Taybron have been the two key cogs for the Firebirds this season, as Vick is averaging 19.5 points per game while Taybron is averaging 19.3. No other Firebirds player is averaging more than 4.5 points per game.

“We’re getting better,” Kennedy said. “We lost one game at the buzzer. We’re still trying to figure some things out depth wise. TJ Taybron and Jordan Vick have both played really well for us. Between the two of them, we’re getting almost 40 points. So we’ve played pretty hard. We’ve played well defensively for the most part. We’ve just got to really get more consistent shooting the ball.”


Hunt entered the season with high expectations and has done little to dispel those amidst a 5-1 start. The Warriors opened the season with three straight wins before suffering their lone defeat thus fat at D.H. Conley.

Hunt quickly bounced back from that loss with a home win over Smithfield-Selma to open conference play and a road win over Beddingfield on Dec. 20.

Hunt has gotten a balanced attack thus far with three players averaging over eight points per game. Ty’Chaun Clay and Drew Pittman lead the way with 11.3 points per game apiece, while C.J. Joyner is putting up nine points per game and Jordan Scott 8.3.

“We’ve had some good nights and had some not so good nights,” Taylor said. “So we’re still a work in progress, just trying to get better. But most of the time, by this time of the year, hopefully we can see things improve from where we were at the beginning of the year and a lot of times the Christmas tournament is a good test for us.”


Fike has had an uneven start to the season. After dropping two games against Southern Nash to open the year, the team is 2-4 overall with a pair of wins over its tournament-opening opponent in Beddingfield and losses to D.H. Conley and South Johnston.

Fike has four players averaging at least eight points per game going into the tournament, with Caleb Willingham leading the way with 9.3 points per game, followed by Demari Daniels with 8.3 and Khalil Wright and Jalen Williams with eight apiece.

“I really like the way our team has progressed and come together as a team,” Secrest said. “They’re playing a lot better together, being unselfish on the floor, playing tougher on the floor now. I’m excited about the tournament. I think we’ve got a good chance to win it.”


This will be Beddingfield first-year head coach Anthony Burns’ first experience with one of the longest-running holiday basketball tournaments in the state.

“As a former basketball coach at other places, it’s always a fun and unique opportunity to play basketball and not have to worry about the stress of school and tests, making sure school work’s done first,” Burns said. “The kids should be fully rested and fully focused on just basketball.”

It’s been an uphill battle for Beddingfield thus far in the 2021-22 season. After their first three games were postponed due to COVID issues, the team has started 1-7, with the Bruins’ lone win coming in a 47-46 win at Nash Central on Dec. 8.

It’s an inexperienced Bruins team, with Taevon Edwards the only returner from last season. Burns has focused on his team making daily improvements in the early going.

“It’s a process,” Burns said. “It’s going to take time. We don’t have a really deep squad, we don’t have a really experienced squad. So I’m trying to stay patient to build a program and understand it’s a process.”

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