October 1, 2020

Episode 0: Trailer

123 Wildcats preview episode: A new high school opened in Chapel Hill, N.C., in August 1996. With 630 students, three grades and no tradition, expectations for success in athletics were tempered. The gym had bleachers on just one side of the court, and on that court, the boys basketball team lost its first game. But their coach knew they were not just another first-year basketball program. They won seven games in a row after that first loss, knocking off the defending state champion. Then came the magical, unprecedented postseason run in March 1997. Episode 1 coming soon! 

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops? Find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod 

Music: "Refined Enlightenment" by Howard Harper-Barnes 

Broadcast: JuJu Phillips/WHKY 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald 

Email: neilamato@gmail.com

 

November 10, 2020

Episode 1: Underestimated

An improbable, unprecedented high school basketball season had humble beginnings in 1996. East Chapel Hill High’s boys basketball team lost its first game. Playing a roster with no seniors, in a gym with bleachers on only one side of the court, the Wildcats were not expected to have much success as a first-year program. Then, even when they started winning, opponents continued to take them lightly. 

Thanks to everyone who listened to the 123 Wildcats trailer episode. We’ve had downloads from around the world, almost as unfathomable as this story. Almost. 

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops? Find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod 

Broadcast credits: WNNC, WTVD, CBS 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald. 

Email: neilamato@gmail.com 

November 17, 2020

Episode 2: Genesis

In driveways, youth leagues and pickup games, the players who would form the first team at East Chapel Hill bonded for years before the new high school opened in 1996. That year marked the start of a rivalry with Chapel Hill High, giving residents of a basketball-focused town more teams to talk about.

Here's your chance to get caught up if you missed Episode 1 of 123 Wildcats.

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer our trivia questions, or share your memories of the Wildcats? Find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod.

Broadcast credits: Jefferson Pilot; Tar Heel Sports Network and Learfield IMG College; UNC; WNNC; WUNC; YouTube 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email: neilamato@gmail.com 

 

November 24, 2020

Episode 3: Boot Camp

Ray Hartsfield knew he wanted to be a coach. He learned from respected mentors at Chicago’s Harlan High School and then set off on his own, first as a football player at Prairie View A&M and later as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Hartsfield’s background helped to form his style; he also grew as a coach along the way. The bear and the elephant mentioned in Episode 2? Those came out less often. Hartsfield was relatively new to coaching when hired in summer 1996 at East Chapel Hill, but even then, he had a calm on the sideline.

Thanks to all of you for listening, commenting, rating and reviewing. We are loving the interaction. Don’t forget to listen to the end for this week’s trivia question and last week’s trivia answer.

If you are liking the story, please share and subscribe. We are on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn, Player.FM, or in the top results of the Google search “1-2-3 Wildcats podcast” (with the hyphens).

Need to get caught up on the story from the start? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer our trivia questions, or share your memories of the Wildcats? Find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod.

Broadcast credits: TED/The Wooden Effect, WNNC, YouTube

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

December 2, 2020

Episode 4: Ringo

Point guard Andy Jones could find teammates for baskets even when they didn’t know they were open. His precision passing was a key factor in East Chapel Hill’s success, along with quick hands on defense and calm under pressure. He might not have been known as a shooter, but when it came time to take a big shot, Jones didn’t shy away. Note, we have the "E" for explicit on here for one word, right near the end.

Thank you, listeners. If you're liking the story, please subscribe and share, rate and review. We are on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn, Player.FM, or in the top results of the Google search “1-2-3 Wildcats podcast” (with the hyphens).

Need to get caught up on the story from the start? Here’s Episode 1. And the YouTube trailer mentioned in Episode 4? Here it is.

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer our trivia questions, or share your memories of the Wildcats? Call our Wildcats Hotline at 919 867-1319, or find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod.

Broadcast credits: WNNC, YouTube

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

 

December 9, 2020

Episode 5: Chemistry

“We played together almost every day of the year,” Brad Woolley says of the era when he and teammates Paul Kindem and Brian FitzGerald developed the bonds that made those three the nucleus of the first team at East Chapel Hill. Different players for sure, but all effective. Take a trip back, a Carolina Flashback if you will, to the days of beepers, the University Mall arcade, the Pizza Hut on Estes Drive, and of course the courts at the Chapel Hill Community Center. Come for the '90s memories, stay for a story about N.C. State legend David Thompson. 

Thank you, listeners. If you're liking the story, please subscribe and share, rate and review. We are on Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, and the top results of the Google search “1-2-3 Wildcats podcast” (with the hyphens). 

Need to get caught up on the story from the start? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer our trivia questions, or share your memories of the Wildcats? Call our Wildcats Hotline at (919) 867-1319, or find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod.

Broadcast credits: WNNC, YouTube, BK productions 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

Search Keywords: 123 Wildcats 1-2-3 Wildcats East Chapel Hill Wildcats Basketball Podcast High School Hoops 

December 16, 2020

Episode 6: Chris

Chris Hobbs was an immediate starter at East Chapel Hill, taking the court as the Wildcats’ center before he turned 15 years old. People remember his size, strength, footwork and soft touch on the court. They also remember him being approachable, a guy who was friends with everyone. Teammates, coaches and others reflect on the life of Chris Hobbs: tea parties, dance moves, dessert deliveries, memorable games and more. 

Need to get caught up on the story from the start? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer trivia questions, or share memories of the Wildcats? Call our Wildcats Hotline at (919) 867-1319, or find us on Twitter at ECH Hoops Pod.

Broadcast and music credits: WNNC, WTVD, Clemson Tigers Network, Nikki Meets the Hibachi

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald. 

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

Search Keywords: 123 Wildcats 1-2-3 Wildcats East Chapel Hill Wildcats Basketball Podcast High School Hoops 

December 23, 2020

Episode 7: Barnburners

East Chapel Hill played in many tight games in 1996-97. Their first four wins were close, and so were just about all their postseason victories. They survived a six-overtime game that clinched the conference title, overcame a deficit in the first playoff game in school history, and then found ways to eke out wins when they played on a neutral court in the 3-A Eastern Regional. Go on the road with the Wildcats, and on the bus, as they continue their run back to Chapel Hill. 

Just hearing about 1-2-3 Wildcats? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer trivia questions, or share memories of the Wildcats? Wildcats Hotline: (919) 867-1319; Twitter: ECH Hoops Pod  

Broadcast credits: WNNC, YouTube 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

Thank you for listening! 

Search Keywords: 123 Wildcats 1-2-3 Wildcats East Chapel Hill Wildcats Basketball Podcast High School Hoops 

January 1, 2021

Episode 8: Perspective

Is there another East Chapel Hill out there? Well, not that we could find. The research can't be classified as exhaustive, but it was exhausting (not a stretch).

Most new schools have nowhere near the success East Chapel Hill had in its first season of boys basketball. In fact, it can take years to build a strong program. That first championship set an early standard at the school, which won state titles in multiple sports the following year. 

How unusual was the Wildcats' run as a first-year team? As hall-of-fame sportswriter Tim Stevens said, "It was almost like out of a movie."

It was indeed movie-like, so this episode includes insight from the creator of Hoosiers, a classic film about high school basketball. 

Just hearing about 1-2-3 Wildcats? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer trivia questions, or share memories of the Wildcats? Wildcats Hotline: (919) 867-1319; Twitter: ECH Hoops Pod

Broadcast credits: WNNC, YouTube 

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

Thank you for listening! 

Search Keywords: 123 Wildcats 1-2-3 Wildcats East Chapel Hill Wildcats Basketball Podcast High School Hoops 

 

January 5, 2021

Episode 9: Red Tornadoes

Hickory High School's basketball team had good reason to be confident heading into the 1997 state championship game against East Chapel Hill. The Red Tornadoes had experience, talent and championship appearances on their side. Eight players were part of the 16-0 football team that rolled to the 3A title just a few months earlier, and Hickory felt it wouldn't be wowed by playing in the Dean Smith Center, where it was walloped in the 1996 final by Burlington Williams. Ty Hunt, Daniel Willis, Will Johnson and coach John Worley share memories and discuss the team's mindset as it prepared to face the Wildcats. 

New to the show and want to get caught up? Here’s Episode 1

Want to talk East Chapel Hill hoops, answer trivia questions, or share memories of the 1997 championship game? Leave a voicemail at (919) 867-1319 or find us on Twitter: ECH Hoops Pod.  

Broadcast and music credits: WNNC, YouTube, ESPN, Hobex ("Back in the 90s" used with permission).  

Executive producer: Brian FitzGerald. 

Email the host: neilamato@gmail.com

Thank you for listening! 

Search Keywords: 123 Wildcats 1-2-3 Wildcats East Chapel Hill Wildcats Basketball Podcast High School Hoops 
 

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