No. 6 high school sports story of 2017-18 | Aces dominate new conference

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John A. Holmes' defense allowed just over 14 points per game last season.


By David Gough
Sports Writer

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Albemarle Athletic Conference’s inaugural year is officially over after starting in the fall.

Among the six high schools that joined, John A. Holmes, Perquimans and Camden were three of them.

No one had a better year in its new conference than John A. Holmes.

For a start, the football team absolutely dominated their five-game conference schedule in 2017. The Aces won all five games and none of them were all that close.

In fact, their smallest margin of victory against the AAC was a 29-point win over Manteo to close the regular season out.

They scored 70-or-more points against Perquimans and Camden and only lost one regular season game out of conference at the hands of Northeastern.

John A. Holmes eventually lost to Tarboro in the state semifinals, but it finished the regular season ranked third in the Associated Press North Carolina prep football poll at the 1A level.

In the spring, the baseball team also didn’t skip a beat in its new conference. One year removed from winning the state championship, the Aces finished 16-10 overall after starting 5-6 and they were even better within conference play.

John A. Holmes won 11 of their 15 conference games including nine of its last ten AAC games.

The Aces were led by the conference player of the year in Ben Ward. The senior batted .494 with three home runs, 14 doubles and 28 runs batted in.

Also in the spring was the success of the boys tennis team.

The Aces won all six regular season matches against their conference foes and nothing changed in the conference tournament at the end of April.

The conference championship singles match was between two John A. Holmes students. Junior William Whichard defeated senior Nev Duruman in a full three sets after dropping the first one.

Shane Spruill and Ryan Tunney teamed up for doubles and won that crown as well.

John A. Holmes, with its 14-5 overall record, moved on to the state tournament and earned a bye in the first round. Unfortunately, its season came to an end after being defeated by Durham’s Voyager Academy.

The girls tennis team had much of the same success as the boys. With the same overall record and also being undefeated in the conference during the regular season the Lady Aces also took home the the conference tournament championship before falling to East Carteret in their second playoff match,

The boys basketball program, like boys tennis, was also eliminated by Voyager Academy in the state playoffs this past year, but it still was yet another Aces athletic program that felt very comfortable in its new conference before losing that third round playoff game.

In ten regular season AAC games, John A. Holmes only lost once. That loss was to Gates County High School, but the Aces redeemed themselves after beating them in the conference championship game.

John A. Holmes finished with a 19-5 record, winning all seven road games, before bowing out of the state tournament.

In track and field, several Aces took home gold at conference championships for both boys and girls events. Eight events were won by boys and two were won by girls.