Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Local connections to N.C. State teams at Final Four


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

There’s some Alamance County flavor involved with this week’s Final Fours – both on the women’s and men’s side.

North Carolina State has both its basketball teams in Final Fours.

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For the Wolfpack women, Western Alamance alum Allie Quinn is in her third season as a team manager. She’s in Cleveland this week for the Women’s Final Four.

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Western Alamance alum Allie Quinn, front left (kneeling), celebrates with North Carolina State’s women’s basketball team after Sunday’s regional final against Texas in Portland, Oregon.

Quinn, a former three-sport athlete at Western, is daughter of Western athletics director Sean Quinn, who also had been Western’s girls’ basketball coach until resigning from that position in March.

The N.C. State women, who are in the Final Four for the first time since 1998, meet undefeated South Carolina on Friday night.

On the men’s side …
N.C. State’s men have reached to the Final Four for the first time since 1983 as part of a shocking run through the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament followed by four more victories in the NCAA Tournament. Joel Justus is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Wolfpack.

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Assistant N.C. State basketball coach Joel Justus and wife Hannah after State’s win over Duke.

Justus was an Elon assistant coach under former coach Ernie Nestor from 2004-08. The Phoenix reached the Southern Conference Tournament championship game in 2008, but the team lost to Davidson and star guard Stephen Curry.

Justus has been on another staff for a team reaching the Final Four with Kentucky in 2015 as director of analytics. He later had a five-year stint as an assistant coach with the Wildcats.


Another potential Final Four connection lost out

There would have been a direct Alamance County connection if Duke had defeated N.C. State in Sunday’s South Region final. Burlington resident Mike Schrage is Duke’s special assistant to the head coach.

Mike Schrage

Schrage is a former Elon head coach. His three-year run concluded in 2022. Schrage returned to the Duke program that spring to join the staff under then-new coach Jon Scheyer.

Schrage has a place on Duke’s bench closest to the scorers table for games.

Meanwhile, a couple of players in the Final Four spent time in Alamance County gyms with rival teams in high school.

N.C. State guard Breon Pass, who played for Reidsville, was involved in multiple football and basketball showdowns with Cummings prior to his graduation in 2021. Reidsville, Cummings and Graham were in the same league before conference alignments changed beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

Alabama forward Jarin Stevenson played for Seaforth, with matchups with Cummings and Graham in the Mid-Carolina Conference in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

In Glendale, Arizona, N.C. State meets Purdue in Saturday night’s first semifinal followed by Alabama vs. Connecticut.

And the NIT …
Graham graduate Justin Cousin was on the bench in a support role for Georgia in Tuesday night’s NIT semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus in Indianapolis.

Cousin is a graduate manager for the Bulldogs, who lost 84-67 to Seton Hall. He’s in his second season with Georgia.

Georgia defeated host Wake Forest in the NIT second round while advancing in the postseason.

Cousin, who finished his college playing career for Radford in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, is Graham’s career scoring leader. He became a graduate assistant coach at Radford before moving on to Georgia.

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