Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2012
SALISBURY — The night clearly belonged to unbeaten West Rowan as they claimed the girl’s title in the 41st annual Moir Christmas Classic Saturday night, 62-48 over county rival Salisbury.
It was obvious who the better team was on the court as West (12-0) put on a balanced and dominating performance, especially in the second half to secure its first Moir title since 1996.
Off the court and surrounding all of the build-up to this title game, however, a lot of things came to an end Saturday night.
Most significantly, the Salisbury streak of nine straight tournament titles and 23 straight tournament wins came to a screeching halt. It was an accomplisghment that was not lost on West Coach Todd McNeeley.
“You can’t say you stopped a streak until you beat the the team that started the streak,” he said. “That’s the way I felt about it and I really wanted to play them in this championship game.”
Yet, the most unusual part about this game was that it marked an abrupt end to the long coaching career of Hornet head coach Doug Faison. Early on in the tournament, it was revealed by Faison and confirmed by school officials that he was resigning at the conclusion of the event. Philosophical and management differences surfaced as key factors in the change.
“I am done and my wife says I am done coaching,” Faison said. “I am going to miss it and I do not regret anything. I have no ill feelings and wish the team well the rest of the season.”
He will be replaced starting immediately by Hornet assistant Tony Hillian, the former head coach of the North Rowan girls.
Whatever the reason for the change, it brought an unusual and unorthodox end to the career of Faison that dated back some 45 years to 1963 when he first coached American high school players in Germany while serving in the Army.
His public school career started in 1967 at King and Queen High near Richmond Va., where he won his first varsity game. Faison was also a key assistant for 5 years starting in 2002 with Salisbury, when it embarked on a remarkable decade of state titles and winning seasons.
He returned to Salisbury this season after serving as assistant coach at Carson. It was a move that lasted just 11 games and almost ended in another Moir title until West Rowan asserted itself in a big way.
“I told Coach Faison he could come and work with us any time he wanted, “ West coach McNeely stated with some obvious displeasure at the way it all ended. “It is an unusual situation but he has been the consummate professional for as long as I have known him.”
The coaching uncertainty did not really affect the Hornet team, as it notched two impressive wins over East Rowan and Carson to open the Moir tourney. But Faison admitted he had some sentimental thoughts at the end.
“ Yeah, maybe I had a few thoughts,” he said, “But our shooting and defense was just terrible.”
A coach to the very end.