Today, the bracket play for the annual Hoopstate Championship officially begins with two highly intriguing matchups. Each year, this event serves as a battle to determine who ultimately comes out victorious as the top independent program in North Carolina. The field features Quality Education, New Life Christian, Winston-Salem Christian (National and Regional), Combine Academy (National and Regional), Piedmont Classical, NC GBB, Word of God, and 1 of 1 Academy. Following Moravian Prep winning the first championship in 2020, Combine Academy has taken home back-to-back titles over the last two seasons. However, it seems like this event could be more competitive this year than ever before. This article will preview the first-round matchups, moving on to 1 of 1 Academy versus Piedmont Classical.
1 of 1 Academy (4) vs. Piedmont Classical (5)
The second round of action for the Hoopstate Championship is set to kick off tonight, starting with a contest between 1 of 1 Academy and Piedmont Classical. In looking at 1 of 1 Academy, it isn't much of a stretch to say they've accumulated many of the top, up-and-coming prospects within North Carolina. Outside of Sebastian Akins and Tai Hamilton, their entire roster is underclassmen. While this would seem like a disadvantage to most, the grouping of Yohance Connor, Gevonte Ware, LJ Rush, Tayeshaun Smith, Christian Wilkins, Jeremiah Jackson, Isaiah Denis, Isaiah Williams, Kobe Broome, and Nick Diaz can already go toe-to-toe with basically any opponent. Their blend of IQ, skill, athleticism, and overall chemistry makes this group extremely fun to watch. Expect them to be a difficult matchup.
On the other side, Piedmont Classical is quite the opposite in terms of roster construction. They are led by a slew of upperclassmen, including junior Richard Goods and the senior core Nigel Vincent, Josiah Watkins, Julius Harrison, and Kahlif Barnes. Guys like Kareem Osman and Jeremiah Whitsett also provide meaningful minutes for the Bobcats. It's easy to see why they've had so much success this season, as their main group is usually able to control the glass and pace with relative ease. These two squads battled last month, where Piedmont Classical held the lead for an extended period but ultimately fell short. This will be the Bobcats' chance for redemption.