MOREHEAD CITY — Whenever a coach invokes the West Carteret teams of the 1980s and the East Carteret teams of the 2010s, you know something interesting is brewing.
West Carteret first-year coach Mark Mansfield mentioned the only two boys basketball teams to win state titles in the modern era as he watched over a deep and talented squad at a preseason practice.
“We’ve had some really talented players since I’ve been coaching here, but one through 12, this is probably the most talent we’ve had,” said the coach who has been an assistant for the Patriots for the past 20 years. “It reminds me of the ’80s teams, reminds me a little of what (former East Carteret coach) Billy (Anderson) had a few years ago. I don’t know if we’ll be as lucky to do what those teams did, but we’ll lace up the shoes everyday, try hard and give it our best effort.”
Mansfield was on the West Carteret team in 1985 that won the 3A state championship. In 2015, Anderson led East Carteret to a 1A state title.
West had a breakout campaign in 2018-19 during Craig McClanahan’s final season as coach, winning its first conference championship in 33 years with an 8-2 mark in the 3A Coastal Conference. The Patriots last captured a league crown in 1986.
BEAUFORT — The East Carteret boys basketball team will enter the 2019-2020 season with its third head coach in three years, but there will be continuity for the second year in a row.
Tod Morgan took over last year from Billy Anderson after serving as an assistant the previous season, and now Daniel Griffee has taken over for Morgan after serving as an assistant last season.
“It’s not a drastic change,” said Griffee who was the head coach at Havelock for four years. “I know we’ve had three in the past three years, but having coached baseball helps a lot. They know me well.”
Griffee, who will be assisted by Keith Bernauer and B.J. Frazier, found plenty of success last spring in his first season as the baseball coach, leading the Mariners to a 12-2 record in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference to capture the league championship. Four players from that squad also play basketball.
OCEAN — The Croatan boys basketball team has a new look this season, but the goal is the same – play to the program’s potential.
Fourth-year coach Jeff Hawkins leads a Cougars team that graduated its top two scorers but returns three of their top six overall. The program is looking to improve upon a 5-17 overall finish and a 3-11 record last season in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference.
“Our goals are to reach our potential, whatever that potential is,” Hawkins said. “We’re going to face good teams with good athletes, but if we play to the level that we can, how can you not be satisfied? I can tell with this group, they’re going to have a lot of effort, and they’re going to improve as the year goes on. No matter the final record, we want to be the best team we can be.”
Hawkins, assisted by jayvee coach Will Sutton and Jim Stephens, is still waiting to get the crux of his starting rotation from the football team. The Cougars reached the first round of the state playoffs, falling to East Duplin 21-13 on Thursday.
PRINCETON — Princeton looked every bit like the ninth-ranked 1A team in the state Thursday night in its first-round, state-playoff matchup versus East Carteret.
The No. 5-seed Bulldogs (10-1) dropped their first game of the season last week in a 42-35 overtime setback to Rosewood (10-1) and took their anger out on the No. 12-seed Mariners, crushing the visitors 62-7.
East, which is ranked 52nd out of 72 1A teams on MaxPreps, saw its season end at 3-9.
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