Sun. May 26th, 2024

FCA Winter Classic Wrap Up

4 min read

The FCA Winter Classic at University of Mount Olive has become a staple in Wayne County basketball for the last eight years, and despite the challenges this year, the Greater Neuse FCA still managed to pull it off!

The challenges included a $15,000 hit due to the lack of fans, but director Ronnie Wise said ministering to the youth through athletics was more important than the money. The tournament included no traditional public schools as the NCHSAA will not allow games to be played until January 4. Aside from the fans, finding teams to play was a huge challenge for the tournament — including having a team drop the week before due to a COVID-19 positive test. 

But the eight team field, did shape up and Wayne Country Day came out on top in the championship game over Wayne Prep. It was the second time in three years for the Chargers (6-1). Here are some of my takeaways from the tournament.

Wayne Country Day

The Chargers look like a much different team from the one they trotted out six weeks ago that got dominated by Cape Fear Christian. The emergence of senior Vante Hutcherson is the main reason why.

Hutcherson came to WCDS last year highly heralded as an underutilized player on a nationally ranked South Central team, but a back injury stifled the 6-9 big man. Hutcherson has lost 30-40 pounds and is fully recovered and playing up to his name. In the last six games, he’s averaging 14.2 points per game on 79.2 percent from the field and 13.7 rebounds per game. On a team with a three-headed monster in the backcourt, Hutcherson’s interior threat makes the Chargers a much more deadly team.

Way Day cruised to the championship win by an average margin of close to 32 PPG victory. Jaden Cooper really stood out as the Columbia signee earned the honors of MVP. Carlos Raven also stood out as he took a spot on first team All-Tournament. The senior point guard Raven recently earned a offer from Patrick Henry.

Wayne Prep

The Generals (4-3) have nothing to hang their heads about. As a first year varsity program, the Generals have shown moments of brilliance despite their age, but against Wayne Country Day their age stood out.

The young guards of Wayne Prep had never seen the game speed of an experienced backcourt that’s been to two state title games in consecutive years. The overwhelming pressure gave WCDS an early double-digit lead that they never relented from. The Generals don’t have a player older than a sophomore, while the Chargers’ rotation featured nothing but players who were sophomores and older. 

Despite the loss, Amari Latham showed so much throughout the tournament. Latham’s high motor, length and skill set kept Prep in the game versus WCDS. Latham hit jumpers, grabbed boards and played excellent defense to earn second team All-Tournament. Kayleb Coles also had an impressive three games as he earned first team All-Tournament after averaging 15 PPG and 5 RPG. 

Sophomore forward Ta’korrie Faison did not get a chance to really show himself during the tournament as an ankle injury kept him out of most of the first two games. Faison, the reigning WJG SPORTS Rookie of the Year, put up 21 points versus WCDS on 10-of-14 shooting and added eight rebounds and four blocks.

Wayne Christian

The Eagles (5-3) had a strong showing in the tournament, despite a 34-point loss to Wayne Country Day. They earned third-place and overall as a team they looked much better. The play of Shawn Haskins and Rayshawn Boston really stood out aside from the excellence of Jayquan Curry.

Curry has had an excellent season at the point guard position as he’s averaged 35.5 PPG. At the tournament, he averaged over 30 PPG and was named to first team All-Tournament. Curry’s ability to lead, playmake and lead a team has grown compared to last season.

Standouts from Out of Area Teams

6-8 Khouri Carvey, Community Christian

Carvey had the best individual performance with 38 points and 17 rebounds against Wayne Prep on day one. Carvey earned interest from college coaches as well as first team All-Tournament. Carvey grew four inches over the summer and now looks to be a legit college prospect out of Wilson.

6-6 Tyrone Barbee, Harrells Christian

The lanky wing prospect averaged over 20 points per game and had a strong showing in all three games.

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