Anyone who knows anything about high school sports will tell you that talent often comes in cycles.

And so it makes what’s happened over the past decade-plus with the East Carteret boys basketball program so unique.

East has gone to the third round of the state playoffs in 10 of the past 12 years.

The third round seems to be a barometer. Get there and your season is determined to be wildly successful.

The Mariners have also won 11 of the past 13 conference championships.

Putting a banner on the wall is always significant accomplishment.

They’ve gone 132-18 in league play in those 13 years and 255-83 overall.

There were also two trips to the state finals with a state championship thrown in there.

It started with Matt Collins, Cornelius Johnson and Tre Godette, then there was Jacque Brown, Ty Simmons, Trevor Willis, Sam Johnson and Demetric Davis, then Jack Garrison and Da’Shaun Johnson, then Maceo Donald and Malik Collins, then Bennie Brooks, Caleb Hymon and Perry Austin, and now Shamel Baker, Charles Matheka and Jacob Nelson.

A state championship, a state runner-up finish, 11 conference championships and 10 trips to the third round over the past 13 years.

It’s hard to find that kind of sustained excellence in any other true team sport in the county over the same period, particularly in a revenue sport.

Some would argue that it’s easier to do this at the 1A level – and they may have a point.

Note: East has been a 2A program during the past two years after realignment despite having 1A enrollment numbers.

This, however, isn’t hard to argue: it’s difficult to find this kind of talent without a major dip in the cycle for more than a decade, particularly at a school with less than 600 students.

(Send comments or questions to or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

(1) comment

Karen Willis Amspacher

It's in the genes ... generations deep.

Welcome to the discussion.

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