Dec 21, 2013
Kinston is making its 21st appearance in the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational (second to Raleigh Broughton’s 25 appearances) and its ninth consecutive trip to the prestigious tourney (second to Raleigh Enloe’s 12 straight from 1972-83).
But while the Vikings have become a staple at the HSOT, there’s one thing the team hasn’t done since 1973 — win the Holiday Invitational.
That’s something second-year Kinston coach Perry Tyndall — a former KHS basketball player and assistant coach — would like to see his talented Vikings do this week.
“Coaching in this tournament has helped me see how special it is,” Tyndall said. “(This week), we’ll play top-notch teams in a neat atmosphere and it’ll prepare us for the rest of our season.”
The Vikings won their second straight state title — and fourth in six years — last season, reeling off 19 straight wins after losing two games in the HSOT. They’re heavy favorites for a three-peat, in part because of their star junior forward, Brandon Ingram.
He’s a 6-foot-8 guard with almost unlimited shooting range who has already received scholarship offers from North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest, among others. Duke started recruiting the ESPN five-star player earlier this month, too.
“Recruiting has been a lot of fun to this point,” Ingram said. “I think there might be a little pressure later on, but for now, it’s fun.”
Ingram’s heroes are his dad, Donald Ingram, and his older brother, Donovan “Bo” Ingram. Both were standouts in their own prep basketball careers — Bo led Kinston to the 2008 NCHSAA 3A title and was named the top player in the state that year by the Associated Press.
“He is in my life a lot and gives me encouraging words every day,” Ingram said of his older brother. “He’s trying to make me get better.”
Although Ingram is certainly the focal point of the 2013-14 Vikings, he’s far from being the only talent on the team. Senior sharpshooting guard Andrew Lopez — who, like Ingram, has shooting range to 26 feet — led the team in scoring two years ago as a sophomore. The son of a Marine, he transferred to a Texas high school at the beginning of his junior season but came back right before the HSOT a year ago.
He contributed off the bench to last year’s title but finds himself in a new role this season as the team’s point guard.
Lopez said he appreciated the attention Ingram brings to the Vikings — especially from college coaches who notice his play and that of his teammates.
“Brandon is an integral part of our team,” Lopez said. “But playing with him gives us higher expectations for our team, as a whole.”
Darnell Dunn, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, is a three-year varsity player who provides some toughness in the post, along with Tiquan Canady, a senior who plays much taller than his chiseled 6-foot-2 frame. Dunn’s younger brother, Darius, is a sophomore guard with a ton of potential.
The pleasant surprise for Tyndall, though, has been the development of Mykel Hart, a wiry 6-foot-5 guard who has emerged as a scoring threat alongside Ingram and Lopez.
“He plays multiple positions for us and helps because of his great length,” Tyndall said of Hart. “But he’s an incredible defender, too.”
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