Piedmont Online 2–7–2022

Welcome to Piedmont Online, a free community e-paper and blog serving the Henderson area; from Clarksville to Wake Forest to Creeedmoor.

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Warmer Weather And Hot Rivalries

Even though it was wet and windy, this week’s warmer temperatures brought a sigh of relief to local residents who have been stunned by outrageous heating bills this year.
But inside local high school gyms, it was red hot. The latest edition of the “Border War” between Vance County and Warren County was played Saturday after being postponed earlier in the season.
In Oxford, the battle of US-158 saw Oxford Prep and Vance Charter split varsity wins. Round 2 will be Tuesday night in Henderson.

Vance Charter also held their 8th grade Appreciation Day for winter athletics, recognizing the boys and girls basketball players and the cheerleaders who will be moving to the high school level next season. Among the players was Makenzie Pendergrass who participates in volleyball, basketball and softball despite being confined to a wheelchair. For this week’s game against Oxford Prep, Makenzie was able to get some playing time


Kerr Vance Academy recognized swimmer Leah Moseley on Senior Night last week.
This is the 4th year in a row that Leah has made qualifying times to earn the chance to compete at the State Championships in swimming to be held Feb 15 in Greensboro at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Leah placed 2nd in the 100 back stroke, only .05 of a second behind the winner in the conference championships.

Leah is the only senior on this year’s swim team. She’ll swim 100 back stroke and 50 free style at the state championships.
She is a three-sport star for the Spartans, competing also in tennis and soccer. Earlier this year, she was crowned KVA Homecoming Queen.
Pictured are Ali Grace Ellis, Caroline Merritt, Leah Moseley, Tyler Fleming, and Hailey Ellington. All will compete in the state championships (photo by Julie Moseley)

Just Chillin’

Two young Vance Charter basketball fans decided that courtside was as good a place as any to stop and have snack during the middle school game between Vance Charter and Oxford Prep. (photo by Gill Clopton)

Remember When

In the middle of a cold, snowy winter, what better time for a beach memory. In a ‘before they were famous’ photo, Tommy Frazier, Kirt Meadows, Mike Satterwhite, Ray Meeks, and Bill Dennis enjoy a warm summer breeeze at Holden Beach. (photo courtesy of Whit Sutton)

An Alligator In Dawson’s Creek

Oh, the life of a single man when he’s sick. I have even begun to stream TV shows like “Saved By The Bell” and “Dawson’s Creek”. Thank goodness for Hulu, right?.
On both shows, I’m already up to Season 1; Episode 1, and trying not-so-hard to work up the courage to see E-2. Yet despite my claims of maturity by age, I’m totally lost and confused about Dawson’s Creek.
What would possess a red blooded American teenage boy to tell Katie Holmes she’s just a friend and then go chasing Michelle Williams? That doesn’t make sense, even on television. But I digress.
Someone recently told me that we should all trust our powers-that-be in Henderson to do the right thing. Well, let’s take a stroll through Henderson’s colorful but interesting history. Remember the highway to nowhere that was a guarantee to solve all traffic problems on Dabney Drive? Remember the Harriet & Henderson alligators? Remember when the Sheriff’s office was broken into and confiscated weed stolen, but no visible sign of entry? Remember when they said Cracker Barrel couldn’t survive in Henderson?
Remember the dude who said “Why you wanna put a pickle plant on Dabney Drive? That road’s never gonna be good for anything except cow pastures and tobacco fields.”
What’s that?… go back to the alligators?
I’m not a historian and I’m not a journalist, and I’m not above spreading rumors. And I’ll admit that I don’t know how many of these very real stories are accurate.

The stolen weed was probably a newspaper typo and the Cracker Barrel story may have been the greatest advertising campaign this town’s ever seen. But the alligator story has been told by a hundred people who knew and lived the South Henderson mill.
Behind the mill, there was a small pond. Some people claim it was formed by the massive amounts of steam used to power the mill’s machines. Personally, I believe the alligator story more than I believe the steam story. Legend has it that the owners of the mill decided it would be cheaper to put alligators in the pond than it would be to build a fence around the mill.
Seeing how you have to pay someone to catch an alligator and bring it to Henderson, I’m not sure how it would be cheaper than a fence. But you have to admit; if you’re considering breaking into a cotton mill to steal… oh, I don’t know, a roll of yarn… what would deter you more; a fence or an alligator?
All of which begs a question more intriguing than the Katie Holmes mystery: When the strike was taking place and people’s cars and homes were being bombed, where were all these alligators? Nothing can bust up a picket line quicker than a ticked off gator.
But again, I digress.
After several years of living in Raleigh and driving a route that began on Raleigh’s Beltline and ended just beyond the Queen City’s Independence Blvd., I can’t help but be amused when people think Dabney Drive has traffic, much less a traffic problem. Still, if they want to improve it, that’s wonderful. I wish them well. But if I were in the rest of your shoes (and I am), I wouldn’t be too quick to assume they’re doing the right thing without asking questions.
The first thing I’d want to know is how a roundabout at CVS is going to help the traffic jams at Beckford Drive.
No matter which side you’re on, don’t leave it to the experts; take part in this debate. It was an expert that told Walt Disney he wasn’t creative. If we leave it to the government, we might end up with a roundabout at every intersection with an alligator in the middle of it.

On Feb. 1, the City of Henderson Operations and Service Center was officially renamed in honor of Dr. Andrea L. Harris. (photo courtesy of City of Henderson)

Lady Panthers Hold Off Person

The Orange Panthers girls’ basketball team overcame some unforced turnovers and a stubborn Person County team that would not go away before pulling away in the second half for a 51–39 victory in Roxboro.
The Panthers were led by Jarmil Wingate with 11 points. Samantha George added 10 and Aaliyah Harris (pictured) scored 9.
The victory left the Panthers with an 11–4 record and a packed schedule for the next two weeks as they work to make up games that were delayed due to COVID.

Franklinton, Southern Nash split wins

Southern Nash came to play, but the size and experience of Franklinton eventually overtook the Firebirds and FHS pulled away for a 57–30 victory in the girls’ game.
The Rams raised their record to 7–3, 12–8 with 4 games remaining, including a rematch with Southern Nash in the season finale.
Franklinton will host powerful Rocky Mount Tuesday night in Franklinton.
In the boys game, the Rams barely missed an upset and fell to the Firebirds 57–54. Southern is now 9–1, 15–4 while the Rams fall to 6–4, 10–8

(Mikayla Taborn drives around a Southern Nash player. photo by Gill Clopton)

Student Spotlight: Aaliyah Harris

Aaliyah Harris, shown in this 2021 photo with one of her “biggest” fans, isn’t on a team in the Piedmont Online coverage area, and I haven’t been able to interview her due to travel and pandemic restrictions. But she has won a lot of fans in this area. Aaliyah averages 15 points a game for Orange High, is a great decision maker on the court, and will be remembered (by me) as one of the friendliest young athletes I’ve ever covered.
Next year, Aaliyah will continue her education and her basketball career at Randolph Macon University.
The photo below was taken during a game at Vance County High during her junior season. (all photos by Gill Clopton)

The Battle For US-158

photo by Haley Gilleland

Oxford Prep’s girls’ basketball team came into the game against their arch rival with an unbeaten conference record and confidence they could compete against the Knights. For the most part they did, but the game got away late and Vance Charter pulled away for a 58–29 victory.

Lucas Juntunen scored 20 points as Oxford Prep’s boys held off Vance Charter in overtime 55–53.
The win gave Oxford Prep solid possession of second place in the TNAC, half a game behind Voyager Academy, who they played in Friday’s Homecoming game.
Round 2 with Vance Charter will be Tuesday in Henderson.

If travel ball accomplished nothing else, it has helped the kids form friendships with students from other schools. I can recall the rivalry between Vance and Webb being almost like a gang war. At one point, Northern Durham and Southern Durham had to stop playing each other because it was getting out of hand.
But that was our sin and the kids today shouldn’t be punished for it.
Victory Christian and Vance County will always be “my schools”. I attended Victory and graduated from Vance Sr. But through my work I learned that it is never appropriate to judge the kids by the name on their jersey… they’re just kids. To them, rivals are fun. Every school in this area (and I cover 19 of them) have some really great students. Through travel teams and social media, they know each other and have formed a bond unlike anything we adults ever knew. And that’s good.
After the VCS-OPS game, I saw several players from both teams on Instragram… sharing pictures, joking with each other, complimenting each other…. that’s the way it should be.
But there were also some words passed at this week’s game, and one girl I spoke to later was very hurt at the thought of what appears to be an ending friendship. I was also hurt, and deep down I knew it was adults, not students, who generated the tension.
I’ll tell this to VCS, OPS and everyone else I cover…. they are kids, not gangs; let them have fun.
It is we who should be following their example.

Oxford Prep Crowns King & Queen

Noah Watson and Jane Faulkner were crowned Oxford Prep School’s Homecoming King & Queen during halftime ceremonies on Friday night.

State Champions!!

The Vance Charter Cheerleaders won the North Carolina Cheerleading Coaches Association (NCCCA) State Championship on Saturday in Graham. The title was for D2 Non-Tumble Medium Varsity Division.
The Knights are coached by Kim Hedgepeth and Stacey Long.

  • photos courtesy of Kim Hedgepeth

Something For Trista

The Lake Country Crushers held a benefit plate sale for Trista Newcombe over the weekend in Chase City. The sale was a huge success, but it’s only part of a huge week for Trista, who was seriously injured in an October car crash.
The best news of the week was Trista’s graduation from Duke Ortho Clinic with assurance from her surgeon that she is healing remarkably well. She will continue physical therapy on her ankle until she is comfortable without the boot she currently wears.
Trista also returns to Bluestone High School this week where she is a senior. She also begins softball conditioning this week and plans to be a part of the Baron’s softball team when the season starts.
Trista and her family would like to extend their appreciation to everyone who has reached out to her during this time with donations and prayers: the student athletes in North Carolina and Virginia, the social media prayer groups, churches, friends and especially the Lake Country Crushers.

In the photo below: Trista Newcombe as she returned to Bluestone High School in November to support her volleyball teammates . (Gill Clopton)

Colton’s Adventure

Busy Week For The Vipers

By the time the Border War began in Warren County on Saturday, it had already been a busy week for the Vipers, playing three games with the boys and girls each winning twice.
The week started with two huge victories for the boys; knocking off Granville Central 63–57 and stunning conference leader Southern Durham 63–62. However the Vipers fell short at South Granville 67–57.
The girls picked up wins over Granville Central 44–23 and South Granville 42–34, but fell to Southern Durham 63–43.
(photos by Brent Hammer)

Photo Gallery

Oxford Prep vs Voyager Academy
Southern Nash Cheerleaders
Orange vs Person
Meredith Wilkins, Franklinton
Oxford Prep vs Vance Charter
Kadence Woodlief (OPS), Grace Stovall (Vance Charter)
Franklinton vs Southern Nash

Leah Moseley, Caroline Merritt and Ali Grace Ellis at the NCISAA conference swim championships at Rocky Mount Family YMCA (Kerr-Vance Academy photo)

Bunn wrestlers finished runner-up to a strong Bandys team in the NCHSAA 2A duals held in Greensboro (photo by Matt Page/Tar River Preps)

Several local girls competed in the Queen City Classic volleyball tournament in Charlotte over the weekend. Pictured is Emma Hammond of Wake Forest who plays for Capital City Volleyball.
Results were not available at press time. (photo by Noel Hammond)

It’s hard enough to be friends in February with someone who wears the opposite shade of blue, but Carolina fan Avery Reese and die-hard Blue Devil Abby Taylor are the friends who can do it. Although I suspect Abby didn’t make many new friends at the Smith Center. (photo by Sandy Reese)

  • ****************************

Vance County Swept Warren County in Saturday’s Border War basketball games.
Pictures and game info was not available in time to meet the deadline for this week’s edition of Piedmont Online.

We Need You!!

Although this week’s edition is mostly sports, we want to include something for the entire community. Send leads, stories and pictures to gillclopton@outlook.com

The following items can be published at no charge:
Wedding/engagement announcements
Church/charity/school events

Don’t Forget!
Nominate your choice for Student Spotlight, a new weekly feature that will focus on middle school, high school or local college students from the piedmont area. Send nominations to gillclopton@outlook.com
Please include educational info and college plans (if any)

This blog/e-paper is available to you at no cost, thanks to our sponsors. Please show your support to them:
Four Season’s Seamless Gutters
Joel T Cheatham Insurance
Corbitt Preservation Association and Museum
Vance County Historial Society

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Gill Clopton

Gill Clopton

Freelance photographer

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