HendersonvillePete Zamplas

Bearcats reach 3rd round in hoops as on gridiron


Tykel Landrum (10) makes an acrobatic reverse layup after driving baseline by rival Pisgah’s Hunter Davis (21), in HHS’ final victory of the season. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

The Cats (20-7) defeated Pisgah at home for the second time in a week both on Thursdays to reach 20 victories.

First, they won the tournament over Pisgah by a convincing 15 points (75-60) in their first year in the Mountain Six Conference (M6). That was two days after edging the other M6 perennial power, Smoky Mountain, by two points at 58-56. Dunkmaster Kalin Ensley was M6 tourney MVP.

Then last Thursday, Bear-cats trumped plain old Bears 59-50. Ensley soared for two dunks in the final quarter, for emphasis of athletic dominance. Bearcats took turns with hot shooting. Freshman point guard Carson Redden scored eight of his ten points in the opening quarter, while fellow quick guard Sawyer Moss scored eight of his 13 in the final quarter. Moss, a junior, added three steals and six rebounds. Moss made many spectacular moves to the ball and basket.

Six-foot-nine center Ben Beeker had 10 rebounds, and 14 points. Six-four wing Ensley, also a junior, scored 13 in a very balanced offense. The game was knotted at 25 at halftime.

Pisgah kept it close, but HHS pulled away in the end as Landrum and colleagues hawked over Bear ball handlers and thwarted passing lanes. The Bears for years typically are poor shooters, but pound away for rebounds. But they could not outdo more athletic HHS on the boards, let alone on fast breaks.

The teams split in the regular season. Winning three of four from the Big Bad Bruising Black Bears and eliminating them feels very rewarding, players said. Three-sport star Tykel Landrum, recalling attitudes in a last-minute home win over Pisgah in football, sensed the Bears always come here expecting to win. But we put ourselves over the top again.

In between those two latest wins over Pisgah, HHS opened playoffs as the M6 top seed and disposed of North Davidson 69-63 at home. HHS trailed by five at the break, but opened with a 7-1 run in scoring 45 points in the second half.

Ensley and Beeker each scored 19 points. Beeker blocked four shots, and grabbed 13 rebounds. Redden made five steals. For the season, Beeker averaged nearly 20 points and ten rebounds, and Ensley 17.5 and six boards. Beeker blocked nearly three shots per contest, and Ensley one. Sawyer Moss and Redden each averaged eight points. Landrum averaged two steals.

Round three was Saturday night, merely two nights after the win over Pisgah. HHS lost then by merely seven points, as a big underdog at Salisbury (now 26-3). That is in the hometown of former U.S. Sen. Libby Dole, also a former secretary of Transportation and Labor. We started good, but let them go on a big run, Landrum said.We came back and finished strong, getting to within seven.

Landrum said third round in both football and basketball is the furthest in the same academic year for both varsity HHS sports, in his four years. Im very proud. We accomplished a lot. We worked hard to get where were going.

Landrum was a sparkplug in many games with his ferocious defense and athletic moves just as he was in football for four autumns. I love playing defense, as well as offense, he said. My mindset is to not let anybody score on me.

In football, Landrum as a safety made an interception for N.C. in its win over S.C. in the Shrine Bowl in mid-December. He is newly-named to the East-West All-Star Game July 18 in Greensboro, as a prep last hurrah. He also starred as an HHS receiver.

Landrum signed a letter to play football for Wingate, and he will help put the Win in Wingate. He was a star base stealer as a baseball center fielder. But he said on Monday, his first day in years without being in a school sport, he is skipping baseball. But his athletic preparation continues, in weight and fitness workouts.

Hendersonville averaged 72 points per game. The most lopsided wins were both by at least 30 over Owen in December by nearly 40 (at 92-53) then by 96-66.

Assists were split with five Cats each averaging at least one per game, and football quarterback and hoops sub Bud Williford nearly one as well as he continued his fine passing. Landrum and Grant Moss are the other seniors.

Gonna miss those three seniors, longtime head coach Marvin Featherstone stated about their veteran leadership and setting examples in practice and during games.

Hendersonville played 3A Asheville twice, in a marquee non-conference challenge. AHS for decades has been an annual power in WNCs premier league, now called the Western Mountain Athletic Conference (WMAC). The Cougars won the Cat Bowl over HHS, by merely 61-59 in Asheville then 74-68 Jan. 2 to open the new year.

In the M6 regular season, both HHS and Pisgah (17-9 overall) were 8-2. Franklin was 7-3 (16-8). There were clearly two tiers of trios. Smoky Mountain was 4-6 (12-13), and Brevard 3-7 (8-15).

East Henderson Eagles were 0-10 in the M6, and 5-19 overall as they dropped 13 in a row. Coach Casey Barnes squad notched all five wins in December. They swept Chase by 18 and 26 points to chase Chase out of the gym. The Eagles won by 11 at Veritas Christian Academy, and by nine over Mitchell in the Christmas Tournament at North Henderson. Senior guard David Houser led East at 15.6 points per game.

The Lady Eagles (17-9; 6-4 M6) fared much better. They won their first ten games and they swept Henderson Countys other three schools, under veteran Coach John Johnston. Ninth-grader Santee Moore averaged 12 points, and junior Judy Laughter 11 for the season.

HHS Lady Bearcats (6-18; 3-7) are coached by Kirron Ward. Leading scorers were strong soph Sekaya Canady (16 ppg.) and freshman Nahndi Smith (10.5).

West, North and Tuscola are in their first year in the WMAC, shifting out of what is now the all-2A M6. The all-3A WMAC, formerly the 4A-3A MAC, has Asheville, Erwin, Reynolds, Roberson, North Buncombe and Enka. Tuscola (15-1) and Erwin (14-2) were best in WMAC girls records.

Therefore, one might discount the identical marks of North and West girls, of 3-22 including 2-14 to tie TCR in the back of the WMAC. North Lady Knights are coached by veteran Sue Moon, and were paced by senior Karlee Honeycutt (9.3 ppg.). North swept West girls, winning by two away then by 18 at home. April Bryson now coaches the Lady Falcons; her husband Joey Bryson coaches West boys (11-15; 5-11), who finished three games ahead of Roberson (2-14) in the WMAC.

The North-West rivalry is intense in various sports. There were heated moments in the boys initial game that West won 76-59 on Dec. 15, but not in the rematch that North won 73-51 at home after jumping to a ten-point lead after one quarter. In that rematch, West sophomore guard Ben Bryson led all scorers with 19.

Norths Jakell Gossett, Kyle Decker and Daquane Washington combined for 45 points, while football star Darren Lammons added nine. Season-long, North was led by a senior trio averaging 11-12 points Gossett, Decker, and the Lammon-nator. Coach Justin Parris credited improved defense and torrid three-point shooting for boosting Knight success.

North (16-10; 9-7) made playoffs, by finishing above .500 to tie Enka for fourth in the WMAC behind co-champs Reynolds and North Buncombe (both 12-4), and Tuscola (10-6).

Signature wins include an amazing 23-point upset (at 67-45) over Reynolds (22-5 overall), sweeping Tuscola with eight and six-point wins, and by winning by ten (74-64) over Asheville.

The Knights barely bowed out in the first round, falling by four at Marvin Ridge in Waxhaw. North split with HHS as each won by a single point at home HHS by 81-80 in the season opener, then North later by 64-63.

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