Northwest girls’ varsity basketball bring the HAECO Championship back home

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HAECO Invitational Champions 2019

The 2019 HAECO Invitational brought out two old champions this year; changing the record breaking outcomes of last year. The Varsity Viking boys took third place against Page High School and the Varsity girls’ basketball reclaimed their trophy against their conference rival, Ragsdale High School. 

Head coach Lee Reavis and the returning 2018 HAECO champions started off the tournament in a close win against Grimsley High School. The final score was 74-72, with stand out players including seniors Brandon Thomas and Dean Reiber. 

“I was calm, cool, and collected,” senior Chris Hamptom said. “I just kept on cheering on my teammates like a cheerleader hoping that we could pull it out to advance, so I could play in the next game.”

In the semifinals, Smith High School defeated the Vikings 67-44. The boys were strong in the first half; only being down by five points. 

“(Reavis) told us to just keep playing basketball and try to play through it,” Hampton said. “All we have to do is just crash the glass and get rebounds and turn around to win the game,”

Smith was able to make a run in the second half to secure a spot in the championship game.

“We played very well but we just have to execute and close the game out by knocking down free throws,” Hampton said. 

The boys earned third place in the end against Page with a score of 82-62. Brandon Thomas was injured in this game due to a sprained ankle against Smith and will be out for another week. The boys played well and senior Robbie Boulton stood out at the point along with Conner Ballou’s shooting. Their season is looking bright as they are a strong team with seven seniors.

“All we have to do is keep working and keep making each other better and hopefully the sophomores and juniors will follow through,” Hampton said.

Smith and Greensboro Day School faced off in the championship in a tight game. The Greensboro Bengals held the Golden Eagles back with a fluctuating lead and ended the tournament with a 62-57 win.

The Boys’ All Tournament team consisted of one Viking, Hampton along with GDS’s Bryce Harris, Jaydon Young and Smith’s Nick McMullen and Silas Mason. The Most Valuable player was Bryce Williams from GDS. Although Hampton did not play in the first game against the Grimsley Whirlies, he still received this accolade. 

“I felt like I did my job and I do that every game that I play,” Hampton said. 

The Varsity girls’ began the tournament in a handled win against Page with a score of 68-8. The Greensboro Day School Bengals were their next opponent in the semifinals. The Bengals have included a few new recruits and were aiming straight for the Vikings.

“I know GDS is a good team especially with all of their transfers coming in, and I knew that we couldn’t be intimidated by them, but we couldn’t take them lightly either,” senior Thalia Carter said.

The Vikings came out strong and attacked every hustle play to secure the win of 65-51. The high scorers we Kargo with 24 points and Carter with 17.

“Honestly I was very nervous, but I knew I was coming in with a good team and that we could work together to make it to the championship,” Freshman Madison Young said.

Young is a freshman on the team this year, along with Kailyn Young, and is getting heavy minutes from head coach Haley Hackett.

“I think I played pretty good and helped the team out as best as I could’ve,” Young said. 

The face off of the Vikings and the Tigers was repeated in the 2019 HAECO Championship. Although the Vikings came out slow, they were able to pull a run before the half with a quick 10 points by senior Reagan Kargo and the team’s defense. 

“I feel like we were calm with the ball,” Carter said. “We didn’t give into their pressure, so the game was at a slower pace, and our defense was pretty good that game.”

The championship game ended with a dominant win by the Vikings of 52-30. Senior Reagan Kargo was the high scorer with 17 points and Carter scored 15. The leading rebounder was Megan Harkey with 16.

The Girls’ All Tournament team consisted of two Vikings, Harkey and Kargo, along with Ragsdale’s senior Nyah Stallings and junior Diamond Monroe and GDS’s Ja’Bria Fullwood. The Most Valuable Player of the tournament was Carter as she dominated other guards on the court as an unsigned senior. 

“I am so blessed,” Carter said. “God did this for me for a reason,

” Carter said.

Since the loss of Virginia Tech commits, Liz Kitley and Cayla King, the Varsity girls have received a lack of respect from the state rankings. Their December play quickly disproved that as they continue to make a name for themselves. 

“I didn’t take notice to any of the comments they made on social media or any of the MaxPrep rankings,” Carter said.

Haley Hackett has also ignored other people’s words as she is confident in her 2020 team. 

“She was very proud of us and how hard we worked, and knew that we deserved all of this,” Young said. “I know we have an amazing team and that we work very hard every single day.”

All photos taken by Wayne Phillips.