Northwest Guilford Girls, Greensboro Day Boys Victorious in 42nd Annual HAECO Invitational Championship Games – Wyatt Smith Reporting

Northwest Guilford Girls win Fourth Straight HAECO Invitational

The Northwest Guilford Lady Vikings cruised to their fourth-consecutive championship with a 65-47 win over Northern Guilford in the 42nd annual HAECO Invitational at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center on Thursday. With the win, Northwest becomes the third school in history to win four-consecutive women’s titles and the first since Western Guilford accomplished the feat in 1995.

The Vikings were successful early in drawing Northern Guilford senior and N.C. State signee Elissa Cunane to commit three fouls in the opening minute and forty-five seconds. With the 6’6” Nighthawk safely on the bench, the Vikings took control.

Northwest’s Elizabeth Kitley scored 11 or her game-high 26 points in the opening frame. The Vikings led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter and with Cunane watching from the sideline, the Vikings increased their lead to 19 points at halftime, 39-20.

Northwest didn’t let the return of Cunane stop them in the second half. Senior guard Lindsay Gauldin stepped up her play and led the Vikings in scoring in the third quarter. Gualdin’s leadership and basketball knowledge were supremely evident in the second half.

Cunane’s presence helped her team pull within single-digits in the final quarter but the Vikings’ lead was too much for Northern to surpass.

Northwest head coach Darlene Joyner praised the efforts of her seniors in the victory.

“They made me cry at the end of this game, and they don’t make me do that often,” an emotional Joyner said of the seniors.

Joyner was especially pleased with the efforts of Lindsay Gauldin.

“Lindsay put on an execution show out there,” Joyner said. “In the past few games she has really started to step up and shoulder this team, becoming the leader on the floor and I absolutely love it.”

Gauldin finished with 15 points for Northwest.

The Women’s All-Tournament team consisted of Elissa Cunane and Kassie Robakiewicz from Northern, and Bria Gibbs, Lindsay Gualdin, and Reagan Kargo from Northwest. Elizabeth Kitley was named the tournament MVP.

Elissa Cunane’s impressive 14 points in 16 minutes led Northern Guilford scoring and Mercedes Wampler chipped in 12 points for the Nighthawks.

Kitley’s 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 blocks led the game in the respective categories. Gauldin scored 15 and had 7 assists for Northwest.

The Northwest Guilford Vikings improve to 12-2 on the season with the victory, and Northern Guilford drops to 9-4.


Greensboro Day routs Smith on the way to Seventh Consecutive title at HAECO

Greensboro Day School boys basketball team won its seventh consecutive HAECO Invitational on Thursday, routing Smith 73-49. The Bengals’ tough defense and senior leadership were keys in the victory.

Some would think that a 6-0 run to start the game by an opponent would be enough to rattle a team. Greensboro Day proved they weren’t the kind of team that gets flustered by an early deficit as they quickly responded with eight consecutive points following the Golden Eagles 6-0 opening run.

The Bengals would trail only once more in the game.

By the end of the first quarter, Greensboro Day lead by a score of 15-9. The Bengals didn’t look back as they got a huge offensive spurt from Tripp Greene, who scored 11 of his 14 points in the second quarter.

Greene was perfect from the field in the first half, including 4-4 from three point range.

At the end of a physical half, the Bengals led 34-22.

With Smith looking to bounce back, the Day School defense stiffened, holding the Golden Eagles to a mere four points in the third frame. Defensive pressure from Will Dillard on Isaiah Bigelow wore down Bigelow, who usually puts up double-figures.

Greensboro Day’s lead increased to an overwhelming 31 in the fourth quarter, enough to make any team ready to concede.

The Golden Eagles didn’t throw in the towel. They outscored the Bengals 23-20 in the final frame.

In the end, it was clear that Greensboro Day had played a complete game. Strong defense held off Smith and allowed the team’s big scorers to put valuable points on the board, taking the team to a decisive victory.

The seventh consecutive championship is the most consecutive tournament titles for any team in the history of this invitational and head coach Freddy Johnson leads all men’s head coaches with 16 career HAECO championships following Thursday’s win.

The all-tournament team featured Smith’s Isaiah Bigelow and Jacob Crutchfield, Northern’s Andy Pack, with Will Dillard and Tripp Greene representing Greensboro Day. John Newman was the winner of the MVP award and led all scorers with 24 points.

Tripp Greene added 14 for Greensboro Day and Noah Dunn had 11 Bengal points.

Isaiah Bigelow finished with 11 points and contributed 7 rebounds to pace the Golden Eagles.

Greensboro Day head coach Freddy Johnson appreciates the win, but said expects his team to be better prepared when they play next.

“We have to do a better job than we did last year after winning this tournament when we let Charlotte Christian beat us in our first game back,” Johnson said. “We’ll enjoy this (victory) until Jan. 5th.”

The Bengals improve to (17-2) on the season and Smith drops to (11-3).