Jordan-Matthews retires jerseys of two basketball legends during its HOF Night

Terrence Newby and Reggie “Kermit” Carter played at J-M from 1992-96.

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‌Sometimes, a person can seek the answers, and other times, the answers can find them.

Former Jordan-Matthews basketball head coach John Phillips, who was in the midst of one of his worst years on the job during the 1991-92 season, did the seeking one night, eying talented eighth grader, Terrence Newby, at one of his middle school games.

Newby, an over 20 points per game player who was confused because he hadn’t seen a high school coach at one of his games before, found out from his mom that Phillips saw him as varsity material.

And unbeknownst to Phillips, that intuition created history that will be remembered for as long as Jordan-Matthews stands.

Months later, Newby’s arch nemesis, rival and cousin from many years of youth sports, Reggie “Kermit” Carter, walked up to Phillips and asked to get the same opportunity to play varsity as a freshman. Phillips knew what he had in Newby, but who was this guy who didn’t even play middle school ball?

With a co-sign of approval from Newby, all Carter had to do was prove to Phillips that this request wasn’t just out of the blue. And after 22 years, two state championship appearances and a ring, Phillips just has to look at the right side of the south wall to know that wasn’t the case.

Jordan-Matthews retired Newby’s No. 5 and Carter’s No. 4 during its Hall of Fame Night Friday, in which 13 other members of the school’s athletics Hall of Fame were also recognized. Some of the former Jets in attendance and honored in between the girls and boys games included Angelita Horton (girls basketball, graduating class of 1978), Burton Wood (golf, 2004), and Jana Wiley (girls basketball, 1988).

The school also recognized senior Johnathan Campos as he became the school’s first soccer player to be selected to play in the East-West All Star Game, which will take place on July 16.

The jersey retirement ceremony, which happened at halftime of the girls varsity game against Bartlett Yancey, was kept a secret from Newby and Carter, both 1996 graduates.

“I can’t put no words into it,” Carter said. “It’s a perfect ending to the week that I’ve been going through.”

Carter, who’s an assistant coach for the Jordan-Matthews boys basketball team, had been dealing with the death of his stepfather on Feb. 7, and he almost didn’t even come out to coach Friday night.

Newby made the decision to come down to Siler City to support Carter during the difficult time, and at the same time, his wife told him about the school hosting hall of fame festivities.

“They were doing something for the Hall of Fame, which we had already done before,” Newby said. “I know some of the stuff had been misplaced or whatever, so they were saying that they were doing it again. So, I said, ‘Ok, it gives us something to do with coming down anyway.’”

Newby’s wife knew what the school had planned the whole time, just like Carter’s family. Carter found out that his in laws were also planning to attend Hall of Fame Night under the excuse that they were going to watch his daughter, senior Lia Carter, in the girls game.

However, they didn’t usually make that trip.

“I still didn’t put two and two together,” Carter said.

Both Newby and Carter knew something was up when numerous family and friends continued to walk into the gym, but they remained oblivious until Jordan-Matthews Athletic Director Barry West called them down to the court.

Phillips introduced them to the crowd, and after a brief word from current head coach, Rodney Wiley, seniors Kelton Fuquay, who wears No. 5, and Neil Wiley, who wears No. 4, presented the two legends with their framed jerseys.

“It was a blessing,” Newby said. “It was cool to be honored where you’re from and where you grew up with some of the things we did with some of my closest friends. It’s some of the best memories of my life.”

Newby and Carter racked up a long list of accolades during their run at Jordan-Matthews. Both were All-County, All-Area and All-Conference selections for basketball and football (Newby also earned All-Conference honors for baseball).

Before Newby became the last signee for the legendary former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, he was named the basketball Player of the Year in 1994, and he was named the Male Athlete of the Year in 1995.

Carter finished as the school’s all-time leader in both points and rebounds, two records that he still holds to this day.

And of course, they were the unstoppable duo that led the Jets to their only boys basketball state championship in 1995.

Before all of the success they found together, Newby and Carter grew up as fierce competitors who couldn’t stand each other at times because of their desires to win over one another in basketball.

“From the time we were eight years old, we played each other for the championship every single year,” Newby said. “We were teammates in football growing up and baseball once. But for basketball, the recreation league couldn’t put us on the same team. It wouldn’t have been fair.”

Once they finally got to put their skills together in high school, the two worked endlessly to put their team in the best position to win. The two credit a significant part of their success to Phillips, who enabled their work ethic and opened the gym whenever they wanted.

It didn’t matter if Phillips just got out of church or if it was senior skip day with classmates spending the majority of the day partying — Newby and Carter were going to get some work in.

“I saw them play, and I said, ‘It’s going to be good,’” Phillips said. “I don’t know who I first heard say this, but it’s so true. Great teams are made during the season. Great players are made in the offseason…So, I’d bring those two in here and they put in a lot of hours and hours.”

Phillips said he’s not sure how much longer he would’ve lasted as the head coach at Jordan-Matthews if it wasn’t for Newby and Carter, and no one will ever know.

He found the solution in starting two freshmen, one that caught his eye right away and the other that revealed himself in just a matter of time. And because of that, almost no one will walk out of Frank N. Justice Gymnasium without knowing that Newby and Carter were two of the best to put on a Jets uniform.