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Pee Dee News - Lisa Bailey

Titans Seek Repeat in Carolina Classic

2023-12-28
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Trinity Collegiate School girls took top honors at the 2022 Pepsi Carolina ClassicPhoto byBoys & Girls Clubs of the Pee Dee Area

After taking the tournament title in 2022, Trinity Collegiate School girls aim for a repeat as they take to the courts at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, against Quality Education Academy during the 37th Annual Pepsi Carolina Classic presented by SC Federal Credit Union at West Florence High. Only in its third year, the Carolina Classic Girls Division features four top teams from across North and South Carolina: Lake View, Quality Education Academy out of Winston-Salem, N.C., Trinity Collegiate, and Wilson.

Head Coach Antonio Jones believes in this Titans team, despite losing three seniors including the 2022 MVP Azaria Knox. Jones’ philosophy is that “Everyone will make mistakes. It’s not about the mistake. It’s about what you do afterwards which defines you as a person.”

Two Titans to watch this year are Makayla Legette and Saleese Kind.

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Makayla LegettePhoto byTrinity Collegiate School

Legette is a shifty combo guard, with a lot of versatility. She is great at leading her team, facilitating the ball, scoring, and making plays on both ends of the court. She may be known for her ability to score but also loves keeping her teammates involved. Legette was named MVP of the "She Got Next" tournament in her first year as a student athlete at Trinity Collegiate.

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Saleese KindPhoto byTrinity Collegiate School

Kind is a fierce and physical leader who prides herself on working hard on both offense and defense. Known for her versatility as well, she is a slasher that can also knock down the three. She hits the boards hard, can guard both inside and out, and is a magnet to the ball.

Past Winners: Lake View Gators

The Lake View Gators took the first tournament title in 2021 with MVP Gwendasia Page, who now leads the team as a senior. In 2022, the Gators were runners-up to the Titans.

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Lake View High School Wild GatorsPhoto byLake View High School

Page was selected as Co-Preseason Region Player of the Year for 2023, Robeson County All-Tournament Team 2023, 1A Girls Top 5 Seniors, 2023 1A Girls SCBCA All State Team. She averages 12.4 points per game and has 1,003 total career points.

Teammate and fellow senior Jaleya Ford is another heavy hitter to watch. Selected as Co-Preseason Region Player of the Year for 2023, she earned All Region 2021-2022, 2022-2023, Region Player of the Year 2022, 2023 1A Girls SCBCA All State Team. She averages 16.1 points per game and has 1,052 total career points.

Coach Larry Inman has a big roster with lots of young talent being mentored by the veterans team members. The Gators play Wilson at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28.

Quality Education Academy Pharaohs

In his fourth season at QEA and 12th overall as a head coach, Melvin Heggie has 175 career wins, a state title, four conference championships, 2021 US Prep National Championship, and 2022 CAASC State Championship to his credit. He also was named 2017, 2019, 2020 Piedmont Triad Conference Coach of the Year and 2020 NCHSAA 4A State Coach of the Year.

Heggie says the South Carolina teams need to watch these North Carolina girls show them how it’s done – specifically looking out for Senior Jazlyn Harris #23 and Junior Zhykera Brown #40. Committed to Presbyterian College, Harris averages 14.2 points per game and earned the 2022 NCHSAA State Championship Game MVP Award. Brown averages 11.1 points per game.

Wilson Tigers

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Wilson High School varsity girls teamPhoto byWilson High School

Florence native and Head Coach Frank Williams thinks his girls will dominate the tournament this year. His philosophy: “Never settle for less than your best.” Sophomore Zoey Miller #1, Junior Leanissa Swinton #20, and 5’11” Freshman Logan Murray #15 will be forces to be reckoned with come 5:30 p.m. tonight.


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