Christmas tournament season kicked off a little early in Claremont on Thursday during the first-ever â€śHoopinâ€™ at the Hillâ€ť junior varsity basketball tournament held at Bunker Hill High School.
In girls competition, it was the Lady Bears advancing to Fridayâ€™s title game with a 35-29 victory against North Wilkes.
Brittany Travis scored 16 points, while Fantasia Umberger, Jasmine Jenkins, Cristy Thao and Kayla Garrett added four points each.
The Lady Bears face West Wilkes, who won a 55-50 overtime thrilller with North Lincoln, in the final.
CHARLOTTE â€” The last time Cam Newton faced the Buccaneers he ran his way into the NFL record books.
This time he'll use his arm to do the same.
The Panthers sensational rookie quarterback needs 18 yards passing Saturday against Tampa Bay to break Peyton Manning's rookie single-season record of 3,739 yards.
But Newton said that record is not as important as closing the season with two wins and helping the Panthers (5-9) carry a load of momentum into next season when their games once again starting counting for something.
2011 was a busy year in Catawba County. Elisa Baker was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for the death of 10-year-old Zahra Baker. Newton voted in its first-ever female mayor. The state forced educators to deal with deep cuts to school budgets.
What was the biggest story of the year in the county? Was it another story not included in our poll?
Check out the choices and vote now at observernewsonline.com, and remember to pick up a Dec. 31 edition of The Observer News Enterprise for a special section of the biggest stories of 2011.
Christmas is two days away in the Hickory Metro, and many organizations are still working to make it a merry holiday season for their neighbors.
Newton-Conover High School, and several other organizations, served a free lunch Thursday to those in need in the community. Several Catawba Valley Community College groups recently collected gifts for the needy, and area businesses donated gifts to children and teens in the Conover area. Read about those stories today in the Friday edition of The Observer News Enterprise.
Also in today's edition and online at observernewsonline.com:
Howard Dale Hamrick, 65, of Lincolnton, died Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at Palliative CareCenter and Hospice of Catawba Valley in Newton. Burke Mortuary in Newton is serving the Hamrick family.
Ruth Stroud Dellinger Call, 76, of Lenoir, died Dec. 22, 2011, at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Lenoir. Drum Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Hickory is handling arrangements.
Class was not in session at Newton-Conover High School on Thursday, but the cafeteria was open.
Handfuls of students â€” now on Christmas break â€” still showed up to school to feed hundreds of area children and their families. A collaboration of NCHS students, teachers and local volunteers helped feed a steady stream of area citizens on Thursday.
There were no qualifiers to participate; people just showed up to eat.
Rachael Hamm, a sophomore at NCHS, was one of about 50 students who served, entertained and fed the hungry on Thursday.
For the 15th straight year, Newton-Conover hosts its unique Red Devil Duals wrestling tournament starting Friday.
The Duals feature six teams, including the Red Devils, Alexander Central, Hibriten, Durham School of the Arts, Enka and Piedmont.
N-C coach Eddy Clark said despite his teamâ€™s 16-0 record this season, the goal of this tournament is to improve.
â€śOur goal is not to go undefeated,â€ť Clark said. â€śThatâ€™s never been a goal of mine. Our goal is to go 5-0 in February during the state dual team tournament. If we get beat now, itâ€™s a good thing, but you never want to lose.â€ť
A Maiden man is charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor in connection to an incident that occurred in Lincoln County earlier this month.
Horace Keith Dover, 55, of 5434 Bucks Garage Road in Maiden, was arrested and charged Wednesday with taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old girl Dec. 9.
Lincoln County authorities say the original incident occurred during a car ride with the girl and her family on a highway in Lincoln County. Dover did know the victim, officers said.
Three Maiden residents were recently arrested in a five-county drug bust in which law-enforcement agencies targeted nearly 100 people.
Rufus Durand "Chico" Lynch Jr., 27; Natasha Lane Wilhelm, 30; and Wendy Lou Wood, 27, all of Maiden, were arrested as part of a "16 Days of Christmas" operation, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Police departments in Newton, Conover and Maiden, and the Catawba County Sheriff's Office, are involved in the ongoing investigation, as well as law enforcement agencies in Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Gaston and Rockingham counties.
The Greater Hickory Classic tournament on the Pro Golf Association (PGA) Champions Tour will return to Conover and move to the fall in 2012.
The PGA Champions Tour released its 2012 tournament schedule this week, and it includes seven new tournament venues and several date changes for existing tournaments, according to the PGA. The schedule includes the 10th annual Greater Hickory Classic.