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Nick Stevens

Nick Stevens

Nick Stevens, a Raleigh native, is the senior editor of HighSchoolOT.com. Nick has covered high school sports for WRAL since 2006, and helped create what is now HighSchoolOT.com. In his blog, Nick provides insight and analysis on area high school sports teams, players and topics. He also provides his opinion on numerous issues surrounding high school sports. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStevensHSOT. You can contact Nick by clicking here or by sending an e-mail to nstevens@wral.com.

Apex had been there before


Jan 19, 2014

Ian Boyd (23) dunks for Apex. HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Raleigh N.C. held on December 28, 2013. The evening games included Apex against Wheeler High School. Wheeler wins by 30 with a final score of 75 – 45. (Chris Baird/ WRAL Contributor)

Ian Boyd (23) dunks for Apex. HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Raleigh N.C. held on December 28, 2013. The evening games included Apex against Wheeler High School. Wheeler wins by 30 with a final score of 75 – 45. (Chris Baird/ WRAL Contributor)

Most people who follow high school basketball in the Triangle would not have predicted a 2-4 start for Apex this season. In fact, the Apex players and coaches are quick to point out they didn't expect it.

Nevertheless, that was the start Apex faced in December.

It's easy for coaches and especially players to panic in such a situation, especially when the expectations were high coming into the season. That didn't happen at Apex though, and it's probably because they had been in that situation before.

"I told (the players), 'We've been right here with you guys,'" said Apex basketball coach David Neal.

He wasn't lying.

Last season, Apex started the season 0-2. The Cougars opened the season with a 71-45 loss to Leesville Road, then fell 51-47 at Sanderson in their second game.

This year the Cougars opened the season with another home loss to Leesville Road, but managed to get a 59-50 win over Jordan in the second game of the season.

Apex didn't panic

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10 basketball games to watch to close exam week


Jan 17, 2014

Gary Clark (11) moves around a Broughton defender. HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Raleigh N.C. held on December 28, 2013. The afternoon games included Broughton and Clayton High School. After a close game between the home team and Clayton, Broughton wins with a final score of 67 – 61. (Lexi Baird/ WRAL Contributor)

Gary Clark (11) moves around a Broughton defender. HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Raleigh N.C. held on December 28, 2013. The afternoon games included Broughton and Clayton High School. After a close game between the home team and Clayton, Broughton wins with a final score of 67 – 61. (Lexi Baird/ WRAL Contributor)

It has been a light week in the world of high school sports thanks to final exams for fall semester classes. The slow week will ramp up tonight though with a number of big high school basketball games in the Triangle.

Here are ten games to watch tonight as the exam break comes to a close.

Broughton @ Heritage (Boys)

Both of these teams are ranked in our Triangle Top 12 Poll this week. Broughton is ranked No. 7 while Heritage is ranked No. 10. If these two teams are going to keep pace with the Cap 8 leader Millbrook, winning this game is key. The Wildcats have beaten both Broughton and Heritage already this season. 

East Wake @ Knightdale (Girls)

This girls game is a match-up between two teams ranked in our Triangle Top 12 Poll. Knightdale comes in at No. 6 while East Wake is No. 7, and needless to say, this game has huge implications in the Greater Neuse River Conference standings where everyone is currently

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Records may fall on championship day of the Holiday Invitational


Dec 28, 2013

Day two of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational featured big time individual performances and great team efforts, and it sets up a potentially record-breaking championship day on Saturday.

One of the most coveted records could fall on Saturday morning in a seventh place game. Devin Booker (Moss Point) has scored 80 points in the tournament so far, leaving him 35 points shy of the record for most points scored in a single tournament. The record of 115 is held by Donald Williams and was set in 1990 when he played for Garner.

Williams went on to win a national championship at the University of North Carolina, but now he is an assistant at Garner. Moss Point will play none other than Garner on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

Booker scored 42 points in the first round and 38 points in the consolation game on Friday.

Even if Booker doesn't break the record, it still may not be safe. Justin Jackson (HCYA) scored 42 points on Friday night after posting 36 on Thursday.

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Big performances on opening day set stage for huge day two at HSOT Invite


Dec 27, 2013

If the opening day of play is a precursor to what the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational will bring this week, we are in for a buckle-your-seat-belt style tournament.

Devin Booker (Moss Point) and Seventh Woods (Hammond School) both posted 42-point performances on Thursday, and both players did so in losing efforts. Moss Point was defeated by Apex 64-59, while Hammond School fell to Trinity Christian 79-65.

Booker and Woods are both tied for seventh all-time for most points scored in a single game at the Holiday Invitational. They're tied with Olujimi Mann (Santa Ana, Calif., Valley) who scored 42 points against Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) in 1994. The record of 54 is held by Mitchell (SD) player Michael Miller. Miller set the record against East Chapel Hill in 1997.

The two high major players (Booker is committed to Kentucky) reached the 42-point mark in different ways. Booker was 17-of-17 from the free throw line, while Woods hit seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter,

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Big match-ups headline opening day of Holiday Invitational


Dec 26, 2013

Devin Booker of Moss Point (Miss) vs. Pascagoula. (Photo Courtesy: Mike Kittrell/GulfLive.com)

Devin Booker of Moss Point (Miss) vs. Pascagoula. (Photo Courtesy: Mike Kittrell/GulfLive.com)

In 1963, Edward Pola and George Wyle wrote a Christmas song that was recorded for the first time by singer Andy Williams. Since, musicians and artists have put their own spin on the song.

I'm talking about the Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

The Holiday Invitational didn't start for another nine years after the song was written, but their is certainly meaning the exists between the song and the tournament. What started as a local basketball tournament has turned into one of the top national high school basketball tournaments in the country, and quite honestly, it is one of the best times of the year.

Speaking as someone who grew up a basketball fan on Tobacco Road, being able to drive a few minutes and step into a gym where a number of future ACC players, other Division I players, and some of the top area teams are playing is incredible.

This will be my eighth season covering the Holiday Invitational, but having the privilege of being

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