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).

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

  1. Seems people do not find team success valuable nowadays. GDS is what we have called our Big Brother school at TBS and me and fathers of those players are close and talk basketball daily. I love the insight I get from guys such as John E Newman Jr Jaquar Moorman Jeffrey Shannon Michael and others. Here is my synopsis of last nights game, not that anyone asked. In case no one noticed last night, GDS were the ones trying to force tempo and speed the game up. They picked up full court and pressed knowing that Smith is a different team without the ball in Cams hands. I saw Coach Johnson sat courtside and try and pick apart Smith’s game plan the night before.Smith tried to play half court but without the ball in their lead guard hands, that proved difficult. People pay no attention to small yet huge things like mentality. The little Four means something to GDS kids and our their coaching staff. If I played, I wouldnt want to be known as the last GDS team that lost the Haeco so they take that tournament like they approach others, very seriously. I happen to know they put it on the calendar every year and they let people know it is important to them. There was a coach that was 10 points behind the day before who said it was just another game to them, which to me sounded like the AAU mentality. EVery tournament you enter should be with intent to win it although I know you cant win them all. Normally GDS wear ties to the game, which to many may sound small and ly, but when I was kid you wore a tie to anything and everything that was important. It is funny on Greensboro Sports how somebody wrote that the talent gap between GDS and the public’s is greater than ever. Nationally all they say is we aren’t as talented but have a great coach. We get that all the time at TBS and in some tournaments we didnt even get mentioned or write up was more about the local team. When are all these so called “experts” going to realize that it is both. GDS HAVE talent, maybe not 5 star top 50 ranked kids but we they kids that can play. They have a great coach and coaching staff that prepares the kids to play and beyond basketball. Both TBS and GDS have a culture that embraces playing unselfish team basketball. I saw Will Dillard get yelled at more than any other kid for doing dumb things in games and he accepted it and didnt pout. Neither did his parents say they aint gonna talk to my kid that way.. In short, everybody is held accountable. Now I am giving away, inside information but know one kid that was in the gym at GDS last night at midnight because he is trying to get himself back to 100% and wasn’t happy with the way he shot the ball this week and wanted to be ready for the stretch run because he knows the team needs him to be at his best. That young man was Tripp Greene and he was THE MAN at FCDS and he gave up being the man in order to have a chance to play in big games and in a winning program. Hats off to that young man. The young man averaged 20 ppg last year 17 for his career could take any shot he wanted without any criticism or anything being said and he gave that up to be apart of a program something bigger than himself. How many kids do you know left to go somewhere and not be the man? How many kids could embrace that is todays society? Well to sum it up, GDS or TBS has great coaches, creates great culture, produces well beyond basketball results and kids receive a quality education. Just an old man who loves watching basketball and good teams play. Social media dont showcase good teams, they want that individual superstar and put individual success ahead of team. If your team is successful, you have a better shot at being successful. Last golden nugget. GDS went hard at layups at halftime when some at Smith didnt even warm up. That either tells me you either have mentally checked out of the game and have given up or it doesnt matter win or loose. All in all , KEEP GRINDING

  2. GDS wins because they play the best team defense. It is not even close. They also don’t run the standard AAU high ball screen offense. They run their sets until they get an open shot. It is an absolute clinic. There have been a couple of teams over the years that have had better talent than GDS, but GDS always plays much better defense. It is that simple.

  3. Came all the way from Salisbury to watch the Kitley-Cunane matchup. Don’t know of any other time we will see two defending state championship teams, both with 6’5” division I caliber bigs go head to head in an environment like that again. It is my understanding that Northwest and Northern are long time rivals and in a championship game like that it is a shame that the officiating wasn’t up to par. I wasn’t the only one who bought my ticket and left disappointed. The fouls called on Cuncane were questionable, late calls. The officials involved and whoever made the decision to hire them should be embarrassed and re-evaluated.

  4. Regarding Rich’s post. I have seen the offending official call 8 or 9 games in the past two years. One thing I have been struck by is her overwhelming need to be the center of attention; at the expense of the actual game participants.
    One week prior to this particular game, NW Guilford submitted a letter of complaint to those who employ and supervise the local officials. Who thought it was a good idea to deploy her for this game?

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