New Hanover to face Pine Forest

Written by|Bob Bonner

The New Hanover Wildcats now have an opponent.

After a court ruling on Tuesday ended Terry Sanford's run in the playoffs, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association ruled Pine Forest should be allowed back into the playoffs despite a written rule to the contrary.

The association's rules state that "a team which lost to the team with an ineligible player is not advanced in the tournament after the fact."

"For us, today is Monday."  New Hanover head coach Kevin Motsinger said Tuesday afternoon.  "We didn't want to show the kids anything involving either team until we were sure who we were facing."

Several players sued the North Carolina High School Athletic Association after Malichi Mills was ruled ineligible on November 9. Court testimony shows an English grade was changed from a failing 54 on June 23 to a passing 78 on June 30.

A Cumberland County issued a temporary restraining order on November 12 allowing Terry Sanford to play its first round game with Pine Forest which they won 49-28 on Saturday.

The case went back to court on Monday but was recessed until Tuesday when a decision was ultimately issued.

"The kids had a good day of practice on Monday, now we'll just break down film of Pine Forest a little bit better than we did the first time around."

While the case played out in court, both Terry Sanford and Pine Forest prepared for Friday's game against New Hanover while the Wildcats waited for an opponent to be named.

"They are two completely different teams.  You can't prepare for one and be prepared for the other."  Motsinger said.  "We'll make the right adjustments and let it play out on the field Friday night."

New Hanover is coming off of a 24-0 first-round win over Holly Springs.  Pine Forest is 7-5 overall.