• 61°

College basketball: North grad Sifford helped N.C. Central win 1989 national title

By Mike London

It wasn’t expected. Underrated, balanced North Carolina Central wasn’t ranked in the top 10 in Division II when it won the national championship in late March of 1989.

One of the stars for the champion Eagles was Antione “Ice” Sifford, a North Rowan graduate, who had helped propel coach Bob Hundley’s Cavaliers to the 1986 2A state championship at the brand new Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill. North Rowan went 29-2 that season. with one-point losses to South Mecklenburg and Thomasville. Sifford was the Rowan County Player of the year.

N.C. Central defeated Norfolk State (67-64) and Virginia Union (60-55) to take the regional title in Norfolk and advanced to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.

The difficult game was in the quarterfinals. The Eagles needed two free throws by Dominique Stephens with no time remaining to edge Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University, 58-57. Sifford scored 10 in that one.

In the semifinals, NCCU was able to beat Jacksonville State’s pressing defense, got a lot of layups and rolled, 90-70.

In the title game played on March 25, N.C. Central routed Southeast Missouri State, 73-46, to capture the school’s first NCAA team national championship.

Sifford, a small forward who averaged 10.6 points for the Eagles that season, had a huge game. He led all scorers in the championship game with 21 points and added nine rebounds. He shot 5-for-7 from the field and 11-for-15 from the foul line.

The Eagles’ 27-point margin of victory set a championship game record. It still stands.

Sifford, Stephens and Miles Clarke represented N.C. Central on the all-tournament team. Clarke earned Most Outstanding Player honors.

N.C. Central coach Michael Bernard was named Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association.

N.C, Central went 28-4 and led D-II in scoring defense (56.0 points allowed per game) and field goal percentage defense (38.9 percent).

The team was inducted into the NCCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997. Members of the team were Charles Alston, Fred “Pop” Bennett, Henry Canty, Clarke, Jeffrey Hayes, Joel Hopkins, Eric Jackson, Derrick Johnson, Derrick Leak, Adrian McKinnon, Marvin “Rat” Reed, Sifford, Stephens, Kelrick Thompson and Curtis Watkins,. Coaches were Bernard and assistants Gregory Jackson and Ron Woodard.

Sifford was inducted into the Salisbury-Rowan Hall of Fame in 2013.



Blotter: Man charged with breaking into used car dealership, stealing Ford Mustang


Kannapolis man charged with accidentally killing foster brother


Renting out Wrenn House is next on menu for Bell Tower Green Park


City to purchase, replace floating aerator devices for wastewater treatment


NC Community College president details importance of connection between businesses, educational institutions


Sheriff: Alec Baldwin fired prop gun on movie set that killed woman


CDC panel recommends expanded COVID-19 vaccine booster rollout


Truck driver killed after collision with school bus in Newton


Iredell County man charged with murder after three bodies found in burned Statesville house


Massive search for Laundrie ends as FBI identifies remains in Florida


Nation’s largest barn quilt mural to be unveiled in Cleveland on Saturday


Charlotte among six schools joining American Athletic Conference


Few details available after Kannapolis shooting claims life


East Spencer apparel store will host free luncheon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Catawba College receives record $200 million contribution to endowment


Blotter: Bullet holes found at Salisbury home


Rowan Sheriff’s Office releases details of NASCAR driver’s assault at coworker’s home


Council candidates discuss city’s handling of ‘Fame’ relocation, protesting, pandemic


Making Memore: Entrepreneurs harness power of Kannapolis’ Food Innovation Lab




DuPont purchases Salisbury-based manufacturing business

Christmas Happiness

Christmas Bureau opens applications for families to get holiday assistance


Spencer Library hosts life pathways event


Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black seeking state branch’s top spot