By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Williams coach Jason Cheek envisioned making a bigger deal of some intriguing girls’ basketball matchups last season.
From that, the Central City Classic was put together.
The inaugural edition of that will be held Saturday at Williams High School, with a youth clinic followed by four games that includes state powers.
“It started with a phone call between Todd Davis, our former AD, and Sean Quinn about maybe having a doubleheader of some sort,” Cheek said. “It evolved into what has become the Central City Classic. The intent of the event has been to put a spotlight on this type of competition.”
Quinn, the Western Alamance coach and athletics director, was on board.
Teams with considerable credentials are part of the eight-team field. Three teams from Alamance County – Clover Garden, Western Alamance and Williams – are among the participants.
“We’re working hard to make the Central City Classic the premier girls’ basketball event in North Carolina,” Cheek said. “Bringing together top teams and providing mentorship opportunities for youth players exemplifies our commitment to advancing girls’ basketball in our state.”
Quinn, whose team is lined up for a strong season, said he wanted to set up a challenging schedule for the Warriors. He and Cheek realized the possibilities of Saturday’s lineup.
“We both love girls’ basketball and want to showcase what we have in Alamance County,” Quinn said.
Last season, Williams and Western Alamance matched up three times, including a pair of one-point decisions (one of those in double overtime) that went Williams’ way before Western won in the Central 3-A Conference Tournament semifinals.
“We wanted to piggyback and build off that,” Cheek said of the interest generated from those clashes. “The result of three amazing games we had last year.”
Clover Garden has posted 22 or more victories in the past three full seasons (not counting the pandemic-adjusted season held in 2021).
Asheville School, which competes in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association, is coached by Ray Edmond, who was the girls’ coach at Western Alamance for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. The Warriors were 35-19 under Edmond, who’s also Dean of Students at Asheville School.
Northern Guilford, which was undefeated through last week, has been a state power. The Nighthawks took undefeated records to the state playoffs in each of the past two seasons. Most recently, Northern Guilford has been in Class 4-A, though it’s a former league rival with some Alamance County schools.
Longtime Northern Guilford coach Kim Furlough retired after last season. Josh Evans is the new coach.
Bishop McGuinness, which is located in Kernersville, is the two-time reigning Class 1-A state champion. The Villains also won nine consecutive state titles from 2006-14. Highly recruited junior guard Adelaide Jernigan is a key player.
Northwood won the 2022 championship in Class 3-A, but the Chargers were upset by Western Alamance in last season’s second round after defeating the Warriors three times earlier in the season. Northwood has moved to Class 2-A this season.
Cheek said he sent emails to nearly 700 college coaches regarding the day’s slate, and he expects a good turnout of recruiters. If college coaches attend, Quinn said the exposure will have widespread benefits.
In conjunction with the games, a youth basketball clinic will be held from 10:00-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Williams gym. The clinic for boys and girls ages 8-13 will be held from 10:00-11:30 a.m. at the school gym with a cost of $10. Former NCAA Division I women’s coach Jane Albright of Graham will be the featured guest speaker. Participants will receive a clinic T-shirt. The event is sponsored by the Williams Athletic Boosters.
Central City Classic Saturday at Williams
Asheville School vs. Clover Garden, 1:00 p.m.
Ashe County vs. Northwood, 2:30 p.m.
Bishop McGuinness vs. Western Alamance, 4:30 p.m.
Northern Guilford vs. Williams, 6:00 p.m.