By Mike Sherman, APSE President

The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer team of Stephen Schramm, Bret Strelow, Robert Cohn, Andrew Craft and Raul R. Rubiera won the Associated Press Sports Editors 2014 contest for projects for the 30,001-75,000 circulation category.

The Observer team won for its series on legendary basketball courts in North Carolina and received four of six first-place votes from judges. It will be presented first-place plaques at the 2015 APSE banquet. The banquet and awards dinner concludes the APSE Conference June 24-27 at The Westgate Hotel in San Diego, Calif.

Schramm, Strelow, Cohn, Craft and Rubiera led APSE judges polling with 58 points. Runners up Kyle Veazey and Michael Cohen of The Commercial Appeal had 52 points and third-place finisher Vince Nairn, of the Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews had 39 points.

Sports editors in the 30,000 to 75,000 category submitted 20 project entries.The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.

Contest chair Mary Byrne of USA TODAY Sports numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.

In early February, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., selected a top 10, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so on down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. The final 10 were given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

The Feature category is judged on human interest, reader interest, quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting. Each member news organization was permitted up to three entries in this category.

The top 10 is listed below with links to writers’ Twitter pages, APSE member websites and winning entries:

1. Stephen Schramm, Bret Strelow, Robert Cohn, Andrew Craft, Raul R. Rubiera, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, 58 points, 4 first-place votes.

Home Courts: Jordan’s memory brings pilgrims to Laney High School

Home Courts: Whitaker Gym in Winston-Salem once state’s hottest ticket

Home Courts: Cozy confines of Campbell’s Carter Gym hosted some of basketball’s biggest names

Home Courts: Name changes, newer arenas don’t diminish charm, history of Bojangles’ Coliseum

Home Courts: Broughton’s Holliday Gymnasium celebrates rich past while showcasing future stars

Home Courts: Kinston-area talent pipeline flows through Holloway Recreation Center

Home Courts: Woollen Gym serves as link to past for UNC basketball

Home Courts: Cameron Indoor Stadium remains a basketball gem

Home Courts: Reynolds Coliseum – The House that Case Built

2. Kyle Veazey and Michael Cohen, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) 52 points, 1 first-place vote.

24 Hours of Hoop City: To find the heartbeat of Memphis, follow the bouncing basketball

3. Vince Nairn, Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews, 39 points, 1 first-place vote.

Youth sports teams struggle for field space as county grows

Family life a ‘juggling act’ when kids play sports

Parents see participation in sports teaching life lessons

Modified play in youth sports aims to boost participation, health benefits

4. Peter Rasmussen, Nydia Garza, Dennis Silva II and Greg Luca, The Monitor (McAllen, Texas), 45 points.

A UT-RGV football team would take millions and years to form

UTPA athletics department a work in progress for AD King

Merger may bring new mascot and hopefully more fans for UTPA athletics

A NEW ERA FOR BRONCS: UTPA athletics optimistic about future despite uncertainties with merger

ON THE RISE: An increase in recruiting budgets allows for more scouting opportunities for UTPA

EXCLUSIVE: The future of UT-RGV athletics: a Q-&-A with Guy Bailey

Collegiate football once existed in Edinburg

5. Joey Kaufman, Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, Ill.) 36 points.

McHenry County youth football at a crossroads

Can youth football be a safer game?

Parents have concussion safety dilemma on allowing kids to play youth football

(Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman and president of APSE. Contact him at or 405-475-3164).