One of the best seasons ever for the West Stokes High School basketball team ended Thursday with a 74-60 loss to Cuthbertson in the 2A West Regional semifinals. The Wildcats wrapped up their season with a 24-6 record.
West Stokes survived an early 3-point barrage and the absence of one of its key players in a 59-53 victory against Northwest 1A/2A Conference rival East Surry Wednesday at home. The Wildcats (9-2 overall, 5-0 NW) played without senior forward Austin Fleming. Fleming, the Most Valuable Player of the Frank Spencer Classic, re-injured his right shoulder in last night’s victory against North Stokes and was wearing a sling as he watched Wednesday’s game from the bench.
Austin Fleming’s reputation as a tough guy at West Stokes High School was cemented the night that he kept standing up after getting repeatedly planted by Shelby defensive linemen in the 2AA football playoffs. His reputation and legacy continues to grow after a gutty effort in the championship game of the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic this week.
When the bright lights have been on West Stokes High School recently, albeit football or basketball, the question hasn’t been so much if it will win, but in what crazy, exciting, heart-stopping way will the Wildcats do it this time.
There were times that West Stokes’ reserve forward Zach Hartle looked absolutely lost on the floor — and promptly heard about it from his coach. But the freshman found himself at the absolute right place at the absolute right time and made a key block in the final minute to help the Wildcats upset third-seeded Reagan 52-47 in the semifinals of the Champions Bracket at the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic at the Joel Coliseum.
More news, notes and observations from Saturday’s West Stokes-Kinston state championship football game:
Whenever West Stokes head football coach Jimmy Upchurch would describe how his team survived three increasingly tough challenges in the playoffs he would simply rely on one phrase — “they’re just winners”. He doesn’t need to say another word.
This year’s 2AA championship game features two of the best quarterbacks in any classification in the state — West Stokes’ Austin Fleming and Kinston’s C.J. Bradshaw. They guided their teams to the precipice of a championship in very different, but effective ways.
Introducing the Kinston Vikings, West Stokes’ foe in Saturday’s 2AA state championship football game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. The game kicks off at 3 p.m.
Shelby’s Bryan Moss made the vaunted West Stokes’ defense look very average at times. Moss piled up 158 yards in the game and two rushing touchdowns, including a 55-yard burst in which he broke at least five tackles on his way to the end zone. But in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats shut him and the entire Golden Lions’ offense down.
Before Friday’s West Stokes-Shelby football game, we posed our five burning questions heading into the 2AA West title game. Here is a recap of our questions, what we wrote before the game and how the game helped to answer our queries:
The dream season continues for West Stokes. The Wildcats rallied from two scores down in the fourth quarter to knock off Shelby, 32-29 in the 2AA West Regional final on Friday night. The ‘Cats (15-0) will be heading to their first-ever state championship game. West Stokes will face Kinston (13-1) on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.
Introducing the Shelby Golden Lions (9-5, 3rd place in 2A/3A South Mountain Athletic Conference, top 2A team in conference) No. 4 seed overall, No.1 West Sectional:
Final thoughts and notes from West Stokes’ 28-14 playoff win over South Iredell from Friday night:
West Stokes linebacker Zach Manley was paying attention — and so were many of his teammates. They were hearing and reading the doubters, some suggesting, but others flatly writing that the Wildcats would be overwhelmed by the blinding speed of undefeated South Iredell.