Losing star players, local schools work to step up game in jamboree

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North Duplin, Spring Creek and Southern Wayne will all be facing challenges going into next year’s basketball season. The teams traveled to the University of Mount Olive Friday and Saturday for the annual high school jamboree where players got to test their progress against multiple schools from North Carolina.

Spring Creek lost the most players to graduation of the three schools in the Tribune coverage area. Four of five players on the Gators’ starting lineup were graduating seniors last year when the team finished its season 20-8. The one returning starter, incoming senior Tyrese Artis is transitioning to the team’s point-guard position so “absolutely nothing is the same as last year,” said coach Taylor Jones.

Spring Creek will be looking to get big contributions from Lucas Barfield, Terius Johnson and Kaden Jones. All three guys finished last season on varsity and “played a few key minutes in the playoffs last year,” Jones said.

In the jamboree, Spring Creek finished 1-2 in three games and in order for the Gators to once again finish in the top half of the conference, Jones says they “have to do a lot of growth physically, mentally, and skill-wise if we want to compete in our conference.”

Though they have a lot of growing to do, Jones is optimistic saying, “it will be a huge challenge that I am hoping our young men step up to.”

The Saints of Southern Wayne finished 16-11 last year which was good enough for second place in the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A conference. The Saints will be without impact players Deandre Wright and Daetwon Barnes due to graduation, but coach Dwight Smith is looking for guys like Jeremiah Anderson and Tyre West to fill those holes on the court.

Smith says he is confident with the group of Junior Varsity guys who will come up this year to add depth to the bench, which has been a huge key for the Saints in a tough conference. Southern Wayne went 2-1 and for the Saints to have another solid year on the hardwood, Smith says, “Leadership from David Brewer and Jamari Leach is the main driving force and it is vital for everyone to understand their roles, as we play defense and offense.”

North Duplin finished 8-12 last season and third in the conference just missing the playoffs as a bubble team. North Duplin lost recent graduate Armone Anders, who was one of the top scorers in the league. The Rebels’ success now rests on the play of guys like Kyle Figueroa, Christian Powell and DJ Simmons.

North Duplin didn’t see much success as its team went 0-3 at the jamboree. The bench players will need to step it up if the Rebels want to finish in the top three of the conference once again.

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