By Graham Hill
The Hoop State Network, which is based out of Raleigh, presented the Brandon Ingram MLK Showcase at Kinston High on Saturday, Jan. 15.
Brandon Ingram, Kinston, NC native, and a current NBA basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans was the title sponsor of the event, along with UNC Lenoir Health Care.
Appearances included local private school, Arendell Parrott Academy from Kinston, NCHSAA 1A state champions Wilson Prep and the final game of the Brandon Ingram MLK Showcase featured “the battle of the 252”, which packed the stadium with spectators.
2A State champion Farmville Central and the hosting school, Kinston High were scheduled in the final game.
Ingram was a four-time state champion during his time as a Viking, and his standout career in high school allowed him to play college basketball at Duke, before being selected second overall in the 2016 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dating back to 2010, both Farmville and Kinston have a combined win total of nine NCHSAA 2A state titles. Kinston won in 2010, 2012, and through 2015 while Farmville became the new team in the 252 by picking up titles in 2016.
The Jaguars are the defending champions for a third consecutive year. During the Farmville title runs in the ‘19 and ‘20 seasons, they eliminated the Vikings from the state playoffs.
They picked up a win in the inaugural MLK classic held in Kinston back in 2020. This was the game to see.
Unfortunately, due to an altercation in the lobby of the gym, fans had to be removed from the event. This also removed the players and coaching staff from the floor and paused the game with 4:42 remaining in regulation.
The Jaguars had finally found separation against the Vikings in what was a tight-knit game up until Farmville had established a 61-45 lead.
Kinston’s head coach, Perry Tyndall was frustrated the game came to an abrupt end and was disappointed the event ended this way
“These environments in high school basketball are special. You have players that get robbed of moments and this isn’t even about basketball. This is a message to (Kinston) our community, our kids, and whoever makes decisions to do this stuff – it is absolutely ridiculous to rob these kids of the ability to play the game they love.” [sic] Coach Tyndall said. “It’s selfish and we need more adults to step up and hold these kids accountable for what’s going on. It’s got to stop.”
Unfortunately, due to pepper spray being used to break up the altercation, the rest of the game was called off due to an unsafe playing environment for the players, coaches, and those working the event.
The victory of the game was awarded to Farmville Central, making them 4-0 in their last four meetings against cross-conference rivals Kinston High.
Kinston High’s Donate Ellis brings the ball up the court against Farmville Central back on Saturday, January 15th Credit: Tyquan James Edwards