Moir Christmas Classic: A tradition: fire marshall closes doors
Cleaning out the Moir Christmas Classic notebook ...
SALISBURY — Every year, fans get the same advice regarding the Moir Christmas Classic. Come watch good basketball. Come enjoy seeing old friends home for the holidays.
And come early.
If you don’t, you’ll be left out in the cold — literally.
On Saturday night, with two minutes still left in the girls championship game, the fire marshal ordered the doors at Catawba College’s Goodman Gym closed. The 2,600-seat facility already had an estimated 3,000 packed in, many crowding the lobby.
It was the job of Salisbury athletic director Joe Pinyan to inform the late arrivals they wouldn’t be allowed in.
Pinyan said he noticed one fan, a diehard Davie supporter, tapping politely on the door. He told him he couldn’t enter.
“I don’t want to come in,” he told Pinyan, “I just want to give you $4 and you get me some popcorn and a drink. I’m sitting in my car listening to the game on the radio.”
Pinyan filled the order and the refreshed fan went back to his car, turned up the heat and enjoyed Davie’s win from the parking lot.
NEW HOSTS: And so it goes with arguably the state’s most popular high school Christmas tournament.
This year had a different feel because Catawba was not the official host, due to NCAA rules prohibiting a college from holding a prep tournament due to recruiting issues. So the six Rowan County high school athletic directors rented the building and took over in a collective effort. They didn’t miss a beat.
“All six of us have pitched in and done different parts,” Pinyan said of himself, Carson’s Jim Grkman, South’s Angie Chrismon, East’s Chad Mitchell, North’s Bryan Mills and West’s Todd Bell.
Catawba athletic director Dennis Davidson hung around, just in case.
“If Dennis doesn’t help us, we’re in trouble,” Pinyan smiled. “He headed us in the right direction.”
Last year, the six schools and Davie County took home $2,300 each. That total might increase after this tournament. Fans packed the place for West Rowan’s girls title win over Salisbury, while wanting to see Davie twins Cody and Caleb Martin, who have committed to N.C. State, play against North Rowan.
“We’ve had great crowds,” Pinyan said. “One thing about Rowan County athletics, when you get all the schools together, they thrive. It’s a great atmosphere.”
MOST POPULAR: No, Carson’s little-used reserve Andrew Purcell didn’t make all-tournament, but he received the loudest cheers of any player in the Moir during a 72-46 semifinal loss to Davie.
Purcell may have had the most productive three minutes in Moir history, sinking two straight 3-pointers and scoring eight points.
“You’ve gotta love it,” said Carson coach Brian Perry. “He’s 4-for-4 on the year. It’s amazing that in a game like that, where we’re down at the end and disappointed, Andrew went in and knocked down those shots. The bench started smiling and the coaching staff looked at each other. It was fun. He lights up the Twitter world.”
Golf ace and cult hero Purcell also set off a minor Purcell-abration when he swished a 3 early in the season against Salisbury.
WHERE’S SOUTH? South Rowan’s boys had no one on all-tournament despite winning two games.
If anyone deserved the honor, it was Tvadis Wesley, who, according to coach Bryan Withers, is still learning the game. In Saturday’s fifth-place win over East Rowan, he had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“Oh my gosh, he’s an amazing athlete,” Withers sad. “Every day he learns a little more about basketball he becomes a bigger part of our team.”
MILESTONE: Five girls who have surpassed 1,000 career points played in this year’s Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
Carson senior Allison Blackwell became the latest to hit the milestone in Saturday’s 59-47 loss to Davie in the third-place game. Blackwell joined Davie senior Amy Steller, Carson senior Kelly Dulkoski, West senior Shay Steele and Salisbury junior Brielle Blaire.
The game was stopped briefly to acknowledge the feat, and Blackwell tossed a commemorative ball to her family.
“I’m proud of Allison and she’s been a very special player for us for four years,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “She’d play hard up 50 or down 50.”
Misenheimer said in a perfect world Blackwell would’ve gotten her 1,000th point in a win in the Moir championship game, but the Cougars struggled in the tourney.
“I know it’s tough for Allison to get excited about the points coming in a loss,” Misenheimer said. “She really wants to win, and this makes it hard for her to celebrate.”
Blackwell turned in some good performances and might have made all-tournament if Carson had enjoyed more success. Blackwell averaged 14.7 points while shooting 48 percent from the field and 88 percent on free throws.
She’ll be a regular at Goodman Gym for years. She signed with Catawba.
RECRUITING: East Rowan’s Karleigh Wike is only a junior, but she is being heavily recruited. The 6-foot-4 center, who can shoot hooks with either hand, has had 108 schools contact her so far, including most of the ACC, Indiana, Kansas State and Notre Dame, to name a few.
Wike has taken a visit to Virginia Tech and probably will sign next November.
East finished fifth, but the Mustangs won twice and Wike was a consensus all-tournament pick. She was the tournament leader in rebounds (45) and blocked shots (nine), and she was second in scoring (68 points) to Salisbury’s Blaire.
Wike shot 57 percent from the floor in the event.
PRAISE FOR NORTH: Mark down East girls coach Danielle Porter down as a believer in the North Rowan Cavaliers. She was impressed with first-year coach Brian Lytton’s job after beating the Cavs in the fifth-place game.
“He has done a phenomenal job with this group,” she said. “They’re disciplined and they’re aware. They’re gritty and tough. He’s got them playing sound basketball. They’re going to be a contender.”
North fell to 4-4 overall, but it is still 4-0 in the 1A YVC. Lytton said the focus will now be on Jan. 2 against South Davidson, the team North is tied with for first.
OH, MAMA: Speaking of Porter, if she’s moving kind of slow, it’s because she’s tired. She’s almost eight months pregnant. But she keeps her smile and her intensity up, and why not? Her Mustangs are 9-4.
“It has been a struggle, it hasn’t been easy,” Porter said of coaching while pregnant.
Her team has made it worthwhile.
“This is the best group I’ve ever coached,” she said. “They’re not just good basketball players, but they have huge hearts and have made it fun for me each and every day, no matter how miserable and uncomfortable I am. They’re fun to be around and they’ve taken really good care of me. That’s what makes it a special experience.”
RARE BLAIRE: Salisbury’s Blaire is a tremendous talent and has been a standout in Moir tournaments.
Blaire scored 15 points in two games as a freshman to help Salisbury win a title, and she was tournament MVP in 2011 when she averaged 24 points per game in three Salisbury wins. This time she led the Hornets to a runner-up finish by averaging 27 points and 9.3 rebounds.
STEELE CURTAIN: West’s first girls Moir MVP since Ebony Pharr in 1996, Steele scored 40 points in top-seeded West’s two games while shooting 50 percent from the field.
She had the game-winning basket in the semifinals against Davie and she was second in the tournament in rebounding at 12.0 per game.
Steele, a senior who has signed with Morehead State, got a lot of help from all-tournament picks Nycieko Dixon, who scored 38 points and had a tournament-high 11 steals, and freshman Khaila Hall, who had a tournament-leading 10 assists.
NOT SO-SO: West senior Alison Sobataka was instrumental in West winning the championship game. She played close to a flawless 32 minutes in a high-intensity game with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers.
Hall and Dixon also were 32-minute iron-women in the final.
MILLER TIME: West sisters Shanice and Quanice Miller don’t get much credit, but they played their roles well in the tournament.
“I told them it was OK to foul out as long as they did it boxing out,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “They did a great job on the boards.”
Mike London contributed to the notebook.