There is a new conference and a new championship for the Cardinal Gibbons boys lacrosse team.
The Crusaders (18-2) were favorites to win last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association title before old rival Apex upset them in the third round. Now, Apex will be in the new 4A bracket while Gibbons will compete for the 3A/2A/1A.
Gibbons will be in a league with the same schools it shares the Big Eight 3A Conference with in other sports: Chapel Hill, Northwood, Cedar Ridge, J.F. Webb, Northern Vance and Orange. Aside from Gibbons and Chapel Hill, most of the other schools have only recently started playing the sport.
So the conference will have teams play each other just once in the regular season before having a conference tournament.
The Crusaders will have midfielder Gannon Morrison, a Marist recruit, who was an all-American pick with 42 goals and 37 assists, and all-conference picks Chris Lappin and Robbie Lavelle.
Girls soccer: The reigning NCHSAA 3A state champion Crusaders (22-2-1) and will be led by Duke signee Morgan Reid and seniors Laura Magdefrau and Faith Wilson.
In N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association play, Cary Academy (14-4) returns senior all-state forward Rebecca Kenney (12 goals) to the Chargers. Cary Christian (13-4) should be improved from a year ago, when their streak of making the 2A final was snapped.
Baseball: Cardinal Gibbons (18-7) is led by junior Vanderbilt commitment Stephen Scott, who hit .440 and led the area with seven home runs and also drove in 22 runs and stole 15 bases.
In NCISAA baseball, Raleigh Grace Christian’s 6-foot-4 pitcher Josh Greene is an N.C. Central recruit.
Boys golf: Cary Academy returns all-state junior golf selection Doc Redman. Cary Christian junior Scott Pechacek finished fourth last season in the NCISAA 2A championship.
Girls lacrosse: Cardinal Gibbons (15-3) will be led by one of the top seniors in the country in Maryland recruit Shelby Scanlin (35 goals). Rebekah Camak, a Meredith recruit, and sophomore Erica Skowron are also back. The Crusaders will play in a league with Cap Eight 4A schools, as there is still just one NCHSAA girls lacrosse state title game.
Softball: Cardinal Gibbons (11-8) has a strong sophomore class with all-district picks Joelle Devita, Kassidy Wood and Elizabeth Pederson.
Boys tennis: The Crusaders (26-0) lost one set while racing through the NCHSAA 3A dual-team bracket. They blitzed Charlotte Catholic 5-0 in the title match. Gibbons is loaded again. University of North Carolina recruit Robert Kelly, the 3A singles champ, is joined by 2013 doubles champions Noah Constantine and Matt Gulush.
Track and field: Junior Jonathan Avery was the NCISAA 3A champion in the 100 (11.08 seconds) for Cary Academy. The Chargers boys were eighth in the state, and the girls were fourth.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps