Falcons Nest - February 16

James Franklin, Athletic Director
O'Neal secures Varsity Girls Swim State Championship and Varsity Girls Basketball and Middle School Girls Basketball win their conference championships. Varsity Girls Basketball starts state tournament play. 
Varsity Swim – Girls 
The O’Neal School’s Lady Falcons defended their 2023 state title at the NCISAA State Championships this past Monday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center with a score of 295 over The Epiphany School who came in second with 233 and 25 other NCISAA schools followed. This is The O'Neal Falcons’ second consecutive state championship, the seventh in the School's history, and the fourth state title under the leadership of coach Jen Schmitz 
The varsity girls’ team started the meet with a close win in the 200 individual medley relay. "I feel it is the best thing to start the meet with a blazing fast medley,” said Assistant Coach Daniel Hubbard. "It sets the tempo for the rest of the meet."  The relay's leg, Jordin Reed, came from behind and swam a lifetime-best split in the 50 free to clench the victory. "It was amazing to see the girls show such grit and determination in that relay," added coach Schmitz. "I don't know why I am always so surprised because that attitude is embedded into the culture of the program."  
The Falcons were ranked second heading into the meet, so they knew it was going to be a battle to the end. Malia Stone was fourth, Morgan Lewis fifth in the 200 free, Captain Lauren Hobbs was fourth in the 200 IM, and Colette Lovsin was seventh. Micheala Stone was fourth in the 50 free and Jordin Reed was fifth. Colette Lovsin was tenth in the 100 fly. The relay team of Micheala Stone, Jordin Reed, Lauren Hobbs, and Victoria York repeated a win in the 200 free relay. "In the years I have been coaching the Falcons, "I cannot remember a year where the Falcons didn't win the 200 free relay, so it was nice to see them bring that title home again, " said Coach Schmitz 
Athletic Director James Franklin shared his pride in the Lady Falcons’ swim team. “What a day. From the time we walked into the pool and saw the families supporting our program, we sensed the ladies were almost destined to have a strong day. This team was small in numbers but mighty in their efforts and commitment to one another. On the pool deck, it was awesome to see our student-athletes pull for one another. After each successful race, the cheering got louder and louder and it was amazing to see the team pull off winning the State Championship.”  
Coach Hubbard and Coach Schmitz strategized almost perfectly. They decided after the playoffs last year that they needed more people to start swimming the 500 free. This season they created a distance group and the decision paid off with Morgan Lewis placing fourth and Malia Stone placing fifth in the 500 and outscoring Epiphany 28-14 in that event 
The Lady Falcons had a strong back half of the meet with Victoria York's second-place podium finish in the 100 back and Lauren Hobbs finishing third in the 100 breaststroke. The final relay of Malia Stone, Morgan Lewis, Colette Lovsin, and Victoria York placed third. "Swimming is an individual sport, but it is fun to take these individual swimmers and have them swim for each other, their school, and a state championship," said Coach Schmitz. "Victoria York sacrificed an individual event to help get that last relay on the podium and score big points for the team," said Coach Schmitz. “It was truly a team effort.”  
Varsity Swim – Boys 
The O'Neal Varsity Boys Swim Team also competed with 23 other schools at the NCISAA State Championship this past Monday. The team placed fifth place overall with 172 points, missing out on the bronze medal by only four points  

The relay team of Captain John Shepherd, Andrew Davis, Leo Van Etten, and Sam Schmitz placed fourth. Sam Schmitz placed fifth in the 200 free, Andrew Davis placed ninth in the 50 free, and Leo was 12th. Leo Van Etten was sixth in the 100 fly, John Shepherd was fourth in the 100 free, Sam Schmitz was fifth in the 500 free and John was seventh in the 100 backstroke. Andrew Davis was ninth in the 100 breast and Carson Pusser was 14th 

"The highlight of the varsity boys’ meet was the 200 free relay," said Coach Schmitz. “The relay team of John Shepherd, Sam Schmitz, Leo Van Etten, and Andrew Davis was ranked fifth and ended up dropping almost four seconds to win second place. The final relay of Aiden Blackwell, Mattias Davis, Carson Pusser, and Nathan Reifenstahl placed 10th. 
Middle School A Girls Basketball 
O’Neal vs Freedom Christian Academy: 34-33, W 
In a nail-biting showdown, the O'Neal Middle School Girls Basketball Team etched their names in Falcon history by securing their 4th consecutive conference championship with a heart-stopping 34-33 triumph over Freedom Christian. Despite playing from behind throughout the game, the team exhibited remarkable poise and tenacity, focusing on the fundamentals and executing key plays to stay in contention. In the crucial moments, the girls showcased their mettle with aggressive drives to the hoop and relentless full-court pressure leading to pivotal steals. The victory highlighted their individual skills and underscored the cohesion and growth of the team. The O'Neal School community expresses immense pride in the girls, acknowledging their dedication, resilience, and the undeniable thrill they have brought to the court, culminating in a highly rewarding and unforgettable season!  
Varsity Girls Basketball 
O’Neal vs Fayetteville Christian School: 68-17, W 
The Lady Falcons soared to an impressive victory last Thursday securing a big double-digit win against Fayetteville Christian in the Semifinals for the Sandhills Athletic Conference (SAC) Tournament. They left the court hungry for a conference victory.  
O’Neal vs Trinity Christian School: 67-25, W 
All Lady Falcons were able to put points on the board for their victory against Trinity Christian to clinch the conference tournament title. Under the leadership of Coach Donna Taylor, awarded SAC Coach of the Year, the team showed exceptional skill and determination on the court. Their standout player, Ashanti Fox, was recognized with the SAC Player of the Year award, a testament to her talent and contribution to the team's success. 
Furthermore, the Lady Falcons showcased their depth and strength as a team, with four starters earning well-deserved spots on the SAC All-Conference team. Their cohesive teamwork propelled them to the #1 NCISAA Division 2A seed as they head into the state playoffs, earning a first-round bye in the process. With their momentum and achievements, the Lady Falcons are poised to make a formidable impact as they continue their journey towards state championship on Thursday Feb 15th.  Come out and cheer on our Lady Falcons Home vs St. Thomas Academy, tip off at 5:30pm!  
Events Next Week 2/19 - 2/24 
NCISAA 2nd Round vs St. Thomas More Academy 
5:30 PM 
NCISAA Quarterfinals 
1:00 PM 
NCISAA Semifinals 
5:30 PM 
NCISAA Championship 
1:00 PM 
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