By THE SANFORD HERALD

O’Neal School continued with the early part of its winter sports schedule this past week, with a highlight being that the school’s swimming teams opened their 2021-22 seasons with a victory in the Falcons’ home pool.

Varsity and Middle School Swimming

O’Neal had a victorious first meet against Cary Christian. The men’s team won 100-50 and the women won in a close meet, 71-67. The race of the meet was Victoria York’s 500 freestyle. York edged out her competitor by .4 of a second, beating her lifetime best time by over 15 seconds. The breakout new swimmer of the meet was Andrew Davis, winning the 100 back and stroke with a time of 1:12.17 and Radford Walker winning the 100 fly in a winning time of 1:01.78. The women’s team suffered some early disqualifications, but rallied the second half of the meet.

The team overall had 24 state qualifying times. Two were from our sixth graders Colette Lovsin and Sydney Davis, who must wait one more year to compete at the state meet. The future is looking bright for the Falcons!

The following swimmers made a State qualifying time:

• Victoria York 200 free and 500 free

• Morgan Lewis 200 free and 100 free

• Alex Grimshaw 200 free and 50 Free

• Sam Schmitz 200 free and 100 free

• Lauren Hobbs 200 IM and 100 breast

• John Shepherd 200 IM and 500 Free

• Chloe Abner 50 free and 100 fly

• Jordin Reed 50 free

• Jace Brown 50 free and 100 free

• Radford Walker 100 fly and 500 free

• Michaela Stone 100 free

• Andrew Davis 100 back

• Mathew Fisher 100 back

Varsity Girls Basketball

Last Friday, the Falcons hosted 4A powerhouse Ravenscroft School at the Hannah Center. The game didn’t disappoint, as teams traded leads throughout the match up. Ultimately, a high-tempo attack coupled with tenacious defense allowed the Falcons to break through in the third quarter. The Falcons used their 20 points off turnovers and 32 points in the paint to pull out the 45-38 victory. The Falcons had a balanced attack in the victory — Reily Johnson (14 points, 5 rebounds), Kelyce McSwain (13 points, 5 rebounds), Ashanti Fox (8 points, 4 steals, 4 assists), Caelan McHarney (6 points, 4 steals, 3 assists) and Taylor Woods (4 points).

The victory also had a special significance as it marked Coach Lulu Brase’s 100th win as the head coach.

“It has been an amazing run these past few years. Yet, for me, it is not about the wins or championships, but watching these young women come together to strive for a common goal and grow into strong, independent, and resilient young women,” shared Brase. “That is what it is all about. We want to create an environment where our female student-athletes are challenged and supported to be their best selves, so when they leave us, they are ready to be positive change agents in the world.”

“This is a well-deserved honor for Coach Brase, who has dedicated her career empowering young female athletes to be the best they can be, in all capacities of life,” shares O’Neal Athletic Director James Franklin. “We are proud of her accomplishment; proud not only for the 100 wins, we are proud of the standards she sets in her program. Her success is highlighted by the wins, and her never ending quest to prepare her student-athletes for a strong future. Congratulations Coach Brase.”

On Wednesday, the Falcons traveled to Raleigh for a match-up with 3A St. David’s. A slow start in the first quarter saw the Falcons fighting from behind. The Falcons rallied in the 3rd quarter behind their tough-nosed defense, which held St. David’s to just six third-quarter points and caused 12 of their 20 turnovers of the game. It was a little too late for the Falcons as they couldn’t get enough baskets down the stretch losing 48-38. The Falcons saw seven players add to the scoring totals in a balanced offensive attack — Caelan McHarney (9 points, 3 steals), Reily Johnson (8 points), Ashanti Fox (7 points, 6 rebounds), Talayah Baldwin (5 points), Taylor Woods (5 points), Brooklyn Adams (2 points) and Kelyce McSwain (2 points).

The Falcons sit at 2-1 overall before hosting 2A Rocky Mount on Friday, prior to a break for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Varsity Boys Basketball

The improving Falcons showed a lot of mettle in a close fight with Ravenscroft last week. O’Neal jumped out to an early slim lead and battled back and forth throughout the first half. The Ravens converted two free throws to take a one-point lead into halftime. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Falcons cut an eight-point deficit down to one, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump. The visitors made their free throws down the stretch and left Hannah Gym with a 61-49 win.

Next up for the Falcons was the first road trip of the season. O’Neal used a stifling defense to get a strong win over St. David’s School, 55-43. The Falcons held a 10-point lead for the majority of the second half and held on to secure a much-needed victory.

O’Neal hosted Freedom Christian Academy on Friday evening before heading to Thanksgiving break.

JV Boys Basketball

The JV boys basketball team opened their season last Friday hosting Ravenscroft. The Falcons had multiple players with big minutes to contribute to a 54-42 team victory. The Falcons were lead in scoring by Tajh Ariza (18 points), Boyd Kenny (13 points) and Will Slagle (12 points).

On Wednesday night, the Falcons traveled to 3A St. David’s. From the opening buzzer, the Falcons dominated the match up in all facets.

“I’m beyond pleasured with the process of this team, and the work they are putting in to grow as players and as a group,” shared Coach Hampton. The Falcons moved to 2-0 on the season with the 61-31 victory over St. David’s.

Varsity Cheerleading

The Cheerleaders have already mastered a new routine which they performed at Varsity Games last week. This week, we were able to start stunting for the first time since COVID-19, and it has been amazing to see the girls learn these new skills. As a coach, it is always inspiring to see how the girls come together and support each other while learning the ins and outs of stunting when some have experience from years ago while others have never attempted. We were able to form two solid stunt groups, with backups for almost every single position if needed. We’ve perfected the squish, and tunnel stunts and have started working on our halves. Next, the girls will learn how to cradle before moving on to extensions, libs, and eventually basket tosses.

Middle School Boys A Basketball

O’Neal middle school boys A team had a busy week competing in three games this week. We started our season opener Tuesday on the road at St. David’s. The Falcons jumped out to a quick 7-0 run in the first quarter. St. David’s battled back to take a 20-12 halftime lead. The second half was up and down as St. David’s went into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead. The Falcons never gave up and were able to pull within four points within the final three minutes, However St . David’s pulled away in the final minute to win 38-31. Jacob Graham led all scorers with 9 points, followed by Will Haarlow with 8, Will Huntley 7, Jack Halloran 5, and Jacob Slagle 2.

The Falcons hosted Trinity School of Durham for their second game of the week. The Falcons played a very tough first half of the game. Will Haarlow hit a couple of big threes in the second quarter heading to halftime down by 4. The second half Trinity School pulled away winning 47-28. Jacob Slagle led the Falcons in scoring with 12, followed by Haarlow with 6, Jack Halloran 4, Will Huntley 2, Jacob Graham 2, and Harrison Buchan 2.

They ended the week with a win at St. Patrick’s. From the tip-off, the Falcons applied solid defense only allowing two points in the first quarter. The Falcons had a very balanced scoring attack with all payers playing winning 41-15. Jack Halloran led all scorers with 7 followed by Jacob Slagle 6, Jacob Lindsey 6, Wells Keuster 5, Will Huntley 4, Jacob Graham 4, Will Haarlow 3, Corbin Weeks 3, and Teddy Fischer 1.

The Falcons return to school on Monday, Nov. 29, on the road against West Pine Middle.

Middle School Boys B Basketball

The Middle School Boys B team jumped out of the blocks with a great home victory vs. St John Paul II on Friday evening. After trailing by two at the half the Falcons created a lot of turnovers with gritty, tough defense and got a fun win in front of a great home crowd.The Falcons have their next game on Dec. 8 when they travel to Trinity School of Durham.

Middle School Girls Basketball (A and B Teams)

In a late week contest to end the first week of the season, our Lady Falcons “Bravo” team took on SJP II in a non-conference matchup. This game was the first opportunity for our Bravo team to play a regulation game. The Bravo team enjoyed playing in front of a spirited Falcon Community who encouraged the team from start to finish. Riley Grimshaw led the Lady Falcons with 4 points while Callie Garrison and Livi Afable added 2 points each.

In their first of four total matchups this week, our Lady Falcon’s “Alpha” team took on the Lady Warriors from St. David’s. The Lady Falcons struggled to find their rhythm early, ending the first quarter in a 4-4 tie with Ava Vonderkall accounting for both Lady Falcons’ baskets. The rest of the game would be a different story. The Lady Falcons utilized crippling defensive pressure and quick transitions in route to a 15-0 second quarter advantage, taking a 19-4 lead into the half. The second half would mirror the second quarter, as the Lady Falcons cruised to a 38-10 win. Ava Vonderkall led all scorers with 12 points while Gianna Maheu (9 points), Kennedy Moore (5 points), Kennedi Hamner (4 points), Lindsey Havenstein (2 points), Charlie McGill (2 points), Callie McHarney (2 points), and Justice McNeil (2 points) also scored.

Last Wednesday, the Lady Falcons took on the Lady Lions of Trinity School of Durham. O’Neal capitalized on early turnovers for a 17-4 first quarter advantage, sparked by Kennedy Moore’s nine points as she converted three lay-ups and a three-point basket. The rest of the game would follow the same script as the Lady Falcons finished with a 52-19 advantage. Moore led all scorers with 19 while Gianna Maheu (11 points), Ava Vonderkall (10 points), Justice McNeil (6 points), Charlie McGill (2 points), Kennedi Hamner (2 points), and Emeli Michael (2 points) also scored.

One night later, the Lady Falcons traveled to take on St. Patrick’s. This game was all Lady Falcons as they coasted to a 45-8 victory. All Lady Falcons saw significant playing time in this game and contributed to the victory. The trio of Emeli Michael, Kennedi Hamner and Charlie McGill led all scorers with each of them scoring 10 points for the game, while Kennedy Moore (4 points), Justice McNeil (4 points), Gianna Maheu (3 points) and Lindsey Havenstein (2 points) also scored.

~Submitted by O’Neal Athletic Department