Hoke men’s soccer enters state playoffs

Quarterback Brandon Saunders throws a pass out of the end zone during Hoke County’s final game of the season, against Pinecrest. Saunders finished third in the league in passing. (PJ Ward-Brown   |  NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

Hoke County men’s soccer won one game in the conference tournament and now move on to the state playoffs.

The Bucks beat the Richmond Raiders, 2-1, last Monday to get their Sandhills Conference Tournament run off to a strong start. Leo Ramirez scored both goals for Hoke, and Mohamed Diallo had an assist. Goalkeeper Larry Ariza Diaz had nine saves for the Bucks. It was Hoke County’s third win of the season over Richmond after sweeping them in the home-and-home regular season schedule.

The Bucks fell to Lee County the following day, however, 2-1. Jose Vazquez De La Cruz had the lone goal for Hoke County, off an assist from Ramirez. Lee County swept the Bucks in all three games this season.

Hoke now enters the state tournament as a 26 seed at 14-9-1 and played at 21-6 Lumberton, a 7-seed, earlier this week, after press time.

In other local sports news:

East Hoke Middle Football beat West Hoke 17-8 to advance to the Southeastern Middle School Conference Championship. The Eagles will play the winner of Rockingham Middle and Hamlet for the championship.

Sandy Grove Middle Volleyball and Rockingham Middle played last night for the Southeastern Middle School Championship. The game was not completed by press time.

Hoke County football did not receive a playoff bid, ending the Bucks’ season at 3-7, 1-5 in the county. Quarterback Brandon Saunders finished third in the conference in passing, with 1,199 yards. Tre’jan Williams was eighth in receiving, and Jairo Ortiz finished tenth in rushing. On defense, Williams also tied for third in the league in interceptions.