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Cumberland County high school basketball 2023-24 season preview

Here is our high school basketball preview for Cumberland County for 2023-24.
Schools missing from the preview either asked not to be included or did not respond to multiple emails requesting team information.
Public Schools
Jack Britt
  • Coach: Isaiah Walker Jr.
  • Top returners: Tysean Major, Jy’den McMillan, Kam’rom Barnes, Ryan Lord, Michael Tubbs.
  • Promising newcomers: DeRyian Mitchell, Ben Aruogu.
  • Coach’s outlook: “We have a core of guys returning that have demonstrated this offseason they are “everyday’’ guys. With a schedule full of challenges, we are looking forward to competing.’’
Cape Fear
  • Coach: Alphonza Kee
  • Top returners: Arrington Kee, Mekhai Coleman, Connor Moore, Ricardo McDonald.
  • Promising newcomers: Damien Gary, Tim Tucker.
  • Coach’s outlook: “This season will be a beautiful mystery with six major core players coming off the football field and joining the team a week before the season opener. Excited about the team’s potential in January and February. Patience and growth early with optimism and improvement late. This team has the potential to play in the postseason again.’’
Gray’s Creek
  • Coach: Jon Grimes
  • Top returners: Deandre Wike, Marcus Corron, Zeek Reed, Elijah Jones.
  • Promising newcomers: Quinn Andrews.
  • Coach’s outlook: “Our guys have worked hard over the summer and in the preseason in preparation for the 2023-24 season. Our team will pride itself on the defensive end and should be very competitive in a tough conference.’’
Pine Forest
  • Coach: David May
  • Top returners: Tristan Lyons, Avery Fikes, Darris Simmons.
  • Promising newcomers: Nehemiah McDonald, Malachi Cooke, Angelo Jones, D.J. Jones, Jaderion Chance.
  • Coach’s outlook: “Basically a brand new team at Pine Forest this year. I am hoping the guys continue to work hard and get better each day. We are hoping to be competitive this season.’’
  • Coach: Jeremy Ingram
  • Top returners: DeAndre Nance, Mylon Campbell, Jacques Foster.
  • Promising newcomers: “Our entire team could potentially have a promising year.’’
  • Coach’s outlook: “We plan to compete at a high level and get better at what we do throughout the year.’’
Terry Sanford
  • Coach: T.J. McAllister
  • Top returners: Johnathan Higgins-Simmons, Josiah Thomas, Parks Helms.
  • Promising newcomers: Brady Shortridge, James Ravenell, Evan Blackwelder
  • Coach’s outlook: “This year we have a brand new team with a brand new staff. We are looking to compete every night to surprise people. We want to make a deep playoff push and put ourselves in great positions to win. We were a senior-heavy team last year so we have a lot to prove but we are up for the challenge.’’
E.E. Smith
  • Coach: Bryan Tillman
  • Top returners: Johnathan Williams, Derek Green.
  • Promising newcomers: Tre Williams.
  • Coach’s outlook: “We lost a good group to include the 2022-23 Player of the Year (James Scott) and three other All-Conference players. We are young but developing team that’s determined to work hard to repeat as conference champions. We’ll be led by Johnathan Williams and Derek Green. Tre Williams may get time early as well.’’ 
South View
  • Coach: Wendell Wise
  • Top returners: Demarcus Spearman, Darin Word, Chase Evans, Anthony Farrior, Jakari Jordan, Jamaal Brown.
  • Promising newcomers: Jalen Mills, Yabniel Cheveres.
  • Coach’s outlook: “We have seen much growth from last year’s returners and expect them to compete in every game we play. This year’s team scoring will be more evenly distributed and defensively we look to be very good.’’
  • Coach: George Stackhouse
  • Top returners: Ari Fulton, Almare Josey, Malachi Allen.
  • Promising newcomers: Jaylen Miller, Tristen Henry, Jaeden Jones.
  • Coach’s outlook: “The bulk of the roster returns from a team that won 21 games and lost to eventual state runner-up Northwood in the playoffs. We will play a very difficult schedule that should prepare us for conference and postseason play. Our kids have worked hard in the offseason to improve individually and as a team. If we can continue to improve throughout the season we have the potential to be as good as anyone we may face.’’
Public Schools
Jack Britt
  • Coach: Nattlie McArthur
  • Top returners: Zahara Gerald, Alexia White.
  • Promising newcomers: DeZariyah Clark, DeSaya Ellis, Chloe Mathis.
  • Coach’s outlook: “This year we have a mixture of new faces and returners. This is a special group of young ladies that have been working hard to be very competitive this season. We are preparing to contend for the top spot in our conference.’’
Cape Fear
  • Coach: Brian Graham
  • Top returners: Jayda Angel, Teralyn Harris, Kayla Starling, Sydney Britt.
  • Promising newcomers: Elisabeth Kirkland, Keyana Gage.
  • Coach’s outlook: “This season our defense will be our number one priority. Attention to detail and taking care of the little things like boxing out, limiting turnovers and communication will be key to our success this season.’’
Gray’s Creek
  • Coach: Brandon Locklear
  • Top returners: Danejah Purdue, Kaitlyn Hopkins.
  • Promising newcomers: Naria Wright, Leah O’Neill.
  • Coach’s outlook: “As first-year head coach I’m expecting big things from this group. They work extremely hard every day at practice and they hold each other accountable on and off the court. Really a special group of players.’’
Douglas Byrd
  • Coach: Devon Murphy
  • Top returners: Shania McLucas, Jazmine Burns, Jaliyah Carroll, Leilani Grace.
  • Promising newcomers: Sheryraye Johnson.
  • Coach’s outlook: “Shania McLucas leads the team being one of four juniors returning. We lean heavily on them to assist in growing our young team. We are expecting a competitive season with the addition of our freshman class featuring two 5-8 forwards, Evon Murphy and Sheryraye Johnson. Then there’s our 6-2 center Gemaiya Johnson.
Pine Forest
  • Coach: Kayla Pless
  • Top returners: Daisha Washington, Janea Conley.
  • Promising newcomers: Armani Campbell.
  • Coach’s outlook: “We are returning seven players, relatively younger players who didn’t get a lot of minutes last year. Relatively fresh, the reason being a lot of these kids didn’t see a whole lot of playing time last year, losing our leading scorer. We are looking to build on our defensive intensity, our speed and relying on sophomores and juniors.’’
E.E. Smith
  • Coach: Dee Hardy
  • Top returners: Jahriell Murchison, Janna Tupuola.
  • Promising newcomers: Danauje Brooks.
  • Coach’s outlook: “The Bull-ettes are returning six players. They will look to defend the conference title with a mixture of experience and quickness. They have two seniors and a case of underclassmen that are explosive and will need to control the boards to see success on the court.’’
  • Coach: Brandie Ingram
  • Top returners: Mariyah Massey, Paris Barber.
  • Promising newcomers: Alain Wilkerson, Jewel Gully, Kariana Williams, Deanna Williams.
  • Coach’s outlook: “We are looking forward to having a fun and exciting year with this young group while competing.’’
Terry Sanford
  • Coach: Chris Goodman 
  • Top returners: Jayla Brantley, Breonna Road, Ameya Brown.
  • Promising newcomers: Jaidiah Blake, Amya Harrington, Zaniya Reddick.
  • Coach’s outlook: “This team has very high expectations for the season, although this team had huge losses in Miya Giles-Jones and Harmony Martin, the team is expecting to be a state championship contender. This team is young but hungry, with one of the toughest schedules in the state, the team looks to prepare themselves for a deep playoff run.’’
South View
  • Coach: Travis Lemanski
  • Top returners: Unity Youngblood, Nahmiah Aekins.
  • Promising newcomers: Zakiera Gaillard, Jordan Parnell, Zarah Lewis.
  • Coach’s outlook: “With the returners we have from last year and the addition of the new faces to our team, we should be competitive once again. We are looking forward to another successful season.’’
  • Coach: Anthony Bennett
  • Top returners: R’mani Robinson, Tatiana Downden.
  • Promising newcomers: Janiasha Carney, Cheyenne Soles, Dahiliyana Baldwin, Princess Canady.
  • Coach’s outlook: “I am feeling confident about this group of young Lady Wolverines. We worked very hard this offseason into the summer and preseason. I am looking forward to this group of ladies to continue to get better each and every day.’’
Freedom Christian
  • Coach: Mike Carson
  • Top returners: Matt Bastos, Hayden Bell, D.J. Jones, Jonas Lyons, Karsten Swinney, Noa Von Pine.
  • Promising newcomers: Rouen Kefourkian, Tyrese Liddell, Leo Sock.
  • Coach’s outlook: “In a very tough conference this year, top to bottom, we hope to build a new culture and compete for a conference title. Our goal is to build team toughness throughout the season and peak at playoff time as a group.’’
Fayetteville Academy
  • Coach: Kevin Dennison
  • Top returners: Riley Duchon, Mary Reese Barkman, Polly Miller.
  • Promising newcomers: A’rel Lacewell Ferguson, Campbell Burt, Dara Ladipo, Mia Ruiz, Lindsey Robbins.
  • Coach’s outlook: “Last year despite losing in the conference championship game, the team really started to gel. That motivation has carried over to this season. They are working harder than ever, showing signs of maturity and have a goal and mindset to win.’’
Freedom Christian
  • Coach: Zefrim Lewis
  • Top returners: Allison Lett, Izzie Dalton-Jimenez.
  • Promising newcomers: Isabella O’Keefe, Kaylee Powell.
  • Coach’s outlook: “The Lady Patriots are going to surprise a lot of opponents. The girls have been working hard in the offseason to improve their skills. I expect them to compete on a higher level.’’
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