Cherry stepping down from Southern Lee

I hate to see Chris Cherry go. He’s meant a lot to the Cavaliers’ success in athletics across the board, and it will be tough not watching his basketball team run, run, run and run some more.

Cherry, as you’ll see in the story below, is moving on to become the basketball coach at Goldsboro, which holds a strong tradition on the hardwood and will benefit from Cherry’s frenetic style. It was a joy to watch his Cavaliers’ teams when they were clicking, using a pressing zone that was part man, part zone that was great fun to watch and even more fun to see broken down by Cherry on the dry-erase board.

I’ll miss Chris for that, and for the long conversations at any Southern Lee sporting event, from football to soccer to volleyball to baseball to softball. Good luck to him and to his family. Goldsboro is better off while Sanford will be missing two great educators in Chris and his wife Shawnda.

Here’s the story:

Cherry stepping down from Southern Lee


SANFORD — Chris Cherry is taking his ball and going home.

The Southern Lee Athletic Director and head boys’ basketball coach submitted his resignation to school officials over the weekend after accepting the boys’ basketball head coaching position at Goldsboro High School.

Cherry cited family reasons for making the move.

“It’s a family decision,” he told The Herald on Monday. “We were looking to move back east and get a little closer to home.”

The loss is a tough one for Southern Lee, said new principal Rob Dietrich.

“We are very, very sad to see him go,” Dietrich said. “The accomplishments he’s had and the runs he’s had have been incredible.”

Cherry, who grew up in Plymouth and later coached his alma mater to the brink of a state championship in 2002, came to Southern Lee when the school opened in 2005 to serve as the school’s AD and basketball coach.

While running the athletic department, Cherry had almost immediate success with his up-tempo style on the hardwood. With highly-touted Division 1 recruit Akeem Richmond coming to the school at the same time, Cherry led the first-year Cavaliers, without a senior on the roster, to a 15-11 record and an appearance in the state playoffs.

Things only got better from there. On its way to a 24-6 mark, Southern Lee won the Cape Fear Valley Conference regular season and tournament championships in 2006-07, finishing with a sectional championship and a berth in the east regional.

The Cavaliers again won the league regular season and tournament titles in 2007-08, finishing 26-4 before falling in the sectional final against Dudley.

Cherry was a combined 65-21 in his time with Southern Lee, an .756 winning percentage.

Cherry said it was difficult leaving the Cavaliers behind, who will feature Richmond and point guard Chad Taylor as seniors this upcoming season.

“Anytime you leave a program there is a little bit of reservation because of the relationships you build with the kids,” Cherry said. “That part’s always tough.”

And it’s tough for Southern Lee as well, which now has athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach positions open as the school year begins. Cherry’s final day at Southern Lee will be Sept. 15.

Dietrich said the school does not yet have a timeline for filling the positions, but said that one will be in place soon.

“We’re definitely losing a leader who moved Southern athletics in the right direction, and it’s a direction we hope to continue as we move forward,” Dietrich said. “The next AD will have big shoes to fill.”

Cherry goes to a strong 2-A program in Goldsboro. The Cougars won the 3-A state championship in 1998 and was the state 3-A runner-up in 2003.

“There’s a rich basketball tradition there,” said Cherry, who will not serve in an administrative capacity at Goldsboro. “The administration was really nice and was one of the main reasons I took the job.”

Cherry’s wife, Shawnda, has resigned her position as principal of Bragg Street Academy to become the math curriculum director at Goldsboro High School.


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Filed under Cape Fear Valley Conference, Designated Hitter, Prep sports, Southern Lee High School, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald

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