Chapel Hill, N.C. — Seaforth High School and Salisbury High School’s girls basketball teams have some things in common. For one, they both made the 2023 N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 2A state championship game. Two, they are coached by head coaches whose last name start with the letter “b.” Three, the initials of the school and mascot are both S.H. (Salisbury Hornets and Seaforth Hawks).
However, Saturday’s 2A title matchup will feature one of the biggest experience discrepancies imaginable. Salisbury, the west representative, is an experienced group that won this very state championship a year ago. Seaforth, the east representative is Seaforth, a school so new that it doesn’t even have seniors yet.
In fact, Seaforth High School is only operating with the freshman-junior classes. Even more impressive than not having seniors? The Hawks only have two juniors on the team. 10 of their 12 players are either freshmen or sophomores.
Seaforth might be very young, but the team does not exhibit the characteristics of your typical inexperienced squad.
“We have a great group of girls with some great talent, but the other thing is they worked extremely hard every day,” Seaforth head coach Charles Byrd told HighSchoolOT at the 2023 NCHSAA basketball state championships press conference. “Often times you find a group of girls that are good and have the talent, but they don’t work hard. That’s not true about this group.”
“These girls hold each other accountable. When someone’s not working working hard, they let each other know.”
Not only are Byrd’s players young, but he is the youngest coach still standing in the state at 30 years old.
Salisbury itself only has four seniors, but the Hornets have that practical experience of last year’s championship run. The Hornets have seven state champions back in the fold on this team. They carry a 26-3 overall record heading into the finale.
“We started this process after our first state championship game with knowing how much we had coming back,” Salisbury head coach Lakai Brice said. “Realizing what these girls can do has really helped us this season.”
Offensively, the Hornets are led by senior point guard Kyla Bryant and sharpshooters in senior Icesis Nwafor and junior Makayla Noble. Defensively, Salisbury is led by an outstanding senior defender in Mary Morgan, who has started all four of her high school seasons.
“They play good man-to-man defense, they can shoot the basketball really, really well, and they play good team basketball as well,” coach Byrd said of his upcoming opponent.
It won’t shock you that Seaforth has an impressive collection of talent that has overcome the experience deficit. At 27-3, the Hawks haven’t lost to another 2A school all season. A month ago, the beat 1A state finalist Chatham Charter by a score of 57-14.
Sophomore point guard Gabby White has been tremendous all season. White averages 15.6 points-per-game, 8.9 rebounds per-game, 3.3 assists-per-game, and 3.9 steals-per-game.
“They are very talented, I think their guard play is one of the best in the state,” Brice said of Seaforth. “They’re very athletic, they can shoot the ball, they can get out in transition, they got a great guard. Just being a new program don’t mean nothing… when you have those kids that are younger, they’re more hungry.”
The game will be played at 5:00 PM in the Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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