2012-13 Prep Basketball: Preseason Notebook
From staff reports
When the news came out that Catawba would no longer be in charge of putting on one of the most prestigious Christmas tournaments in the state, there was a collective gasp around Rowan County. The charm of the Moir Christmas Classic is playing in the college atmosphere of Goodman Gymnasium. Tournaments in other counties that are held at high school gyms have not brought in the fans or created the same excitement.
But not to fear, basketball fans. Catawba will still play host to the three-day affair, it will just be directed by the athletic directors at the six Rowan high schools, not Dennis Davidson and Catawba.
An NCAA rule prohibits colleges from hosting high school tournaments. In fact, Wingate has already done away with its event.
“It’s considered a recruiting advantage,” said Davidson, Catawba’s athletic director. “Which is silly, because it hasn’t been. Our coaches aren’t out there at the front door waiting for the players. If it’s still here, why isn’t it still a recruiting advantage?”
So Catawba will simply rent the building out to the schools. Up until 1995, that was the case, anyway. And the place was always packed.
County ADs like West Rowan’s Todd Bell and Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan said nothing would change for the fans. It will still be three days of basketball for the usual seven teams: the six from Rowan and Davie County.
The Moir is like Duke-Carolina. Every year, you tell yourself it can’t get better — and then it does. Last season, the fire marshal forced Catawba to close the doors — during the girls championship game. There wasn’t room for anyone else in the jam-packed arena. Fans were turned away at the door. Which was good news for the seven high schools putting on the event.
Each earned $2,300.
MOIR CHAMPS: For the record, North Rowan’s boys beat Davie for last year’s tournament title, ending Salisbury’s streak of four straight. Salisbury’s girls kept their streak intact, however, winning their ninth straight. The Hornets beat Carson in one of the more memorable girls finals.
PRESEASON ALL-COUNTY GIRLS: A no-brainer. Just look at the basketball cover. Salisbury’s Brielle Blaire, West Rowan’s Shay Steele, Carson’s Kelly Dulkoski, East Rowan’s Karleigh Wike and South Rowan’s Avery Locklear.
PRESEASON ALL-COUNTY BOYS: A lot of green on this team with North Rowan’s Oshon West, Malik Ford and Mike Connor, South Rowan’s Josh Medlin and Carson’s Colton Laws.
ENOUGH BALLS? This year’s Moir will feature two future North Carolina State players in Davie’s 6-foot-6 twins Cody and Caleb Martin. They have committed to Mark Gottfried.
But coach Mike Absher also has a new set of twins in the Hatfields, Austin and Taylor, sharpshooting guards who live on the 3-point line. Which leads to the question, will there be enough balls for everyone?
North certainly remembers the Hatfields, who personally handed them a loss when the Cavaliers traveled to South Davidson last year.
RECRUITING: It’s scary to think how many colleges will be interested in East Rowan’s 6-foot-4 Karleigh Wike next season when she’s a senior. The interest is already high in her junior year.
Mustang coach Danielle Porter said Wake Forest is showing a lot of interest. She also mentioned Virginia Tech, Princeton, Kansas State, Richmond and Binghampton.
“She’s really going to show people this year she’s a different player,” Porter said.
AND BABY MAKES 3: South Rowan’s Jarrod Smith and East Rowan’s head coach Porter have circled the dates Oct. 27 and Feb. 22, not because of big games, but because of their babies. Smith became a father for the first time on Oct. 27 and Porter is due to have her first baby on Feb. 22.
“Just before the playoffs start,” Porter sighed.
For Smith and wife Meredith, Stella Drew, who weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces, has been everything they could hope for. She was named after her 95-year-old grandmother.
“I’ll tell you what,” Smith said, “it’s been great. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Even more exciting is the fact Stella was 21 inches when she was born.
“I may have me a post player in 15 years,” he laughed.
Porter laughs too, saying everyone has to bear with her during basketball season. She begged Post photographer Jon Lakey not to take sideline shots of her. Her players had a good time at the team photo shoot, sticking balls under their shirts and mocking her. She wonders what it will be like when she’s a pregnant coach in February.
“I’ve forewarned my assistant Amanda Paffrath,” Porter chuckled.
By the way, she’s going to have a boy.
WE WANT BLAIRE: Florida stopped by to watch Salisbury junior Brielle Blaire practice the other day. Just like Wake Forest has done. And West Virginia. And Georgia Tech and Central Florida ... the list goes on. She is in high demand after playing a summer circuit across the country.
Coach Doug Faison says Blaire has grown to 6-1 and will play small or power forward in college.
BRING IT ON: Blaire is getting some top-notch competition at Salisbury practice against assistant coach Tristan Rankin, a former North Rowan star. Faison is enjoying it.
“She takes him to lunch and he takes her to lunch,” Faison said. “She took him on a couple of moves.”
HONOR ROLL CAVS: North Rowan coach Andrew Mitchell is excited about having a another talent-heavy squad this year, but he’s also pumped about their intellects. Eight of the 14 players for the North Rowan boys made honor roll last semester.
“Everybody’s excited about that,” Mitchell said. “I can see the effort in the classroom because it translates onto the court.”
NO BEARD? East Rowan boys coach Trey Ledbetter joked that he wasn’t happy about “No Shave November” at his school because Austin Hill no longer has his beard.
“I told him he had to grow it back,” Ledbetter said. “It was one of those nasty looking beards. I’m hoping it intimidates our opponents.”
CALL ME COACH: Ledbetter is cousins with Sam and Seth Wyrick and he’s excited to coach them. But he has already proven they will get no preferential treatment. He made that clear during the summer.
“Here, they call me Coach,” Ledbetter laughed while sitting in the East gym. “Away from here they call me Trey, or whatever they want to call me. I’ve got a few names for them, too.”
BURSTING ONTO THE SCENE: One player to keep an eye on is Marquez McCain at Carson. He’s a 5-11 sophomore who had legendary status in football and hoops in middle school, but Rowan County fans will be getting their first look at him at the varsity level.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Salisbury’s Daterria Connor wanted everyone to know why she is wearing No. 12 this year. It’s also North’s Mike Connor’s number.
“We’re cousins,” she beamed.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... Tony Nunn.
The 6-foot-8 post man came to Salisbury last year with much fanfare. He had offers on the table from the likes of Cincinnati. The sky was the limit.
But it just didn’t work out for the big man, who didn’t even make all-county. Now, he’s on the move again. Nunn has resurfaced at Oldsmar Christian Academy in Tampa, Fla., according to Salisbury coach Jason Causby. He has verbally committed to North Texas.
HELP: Carson girls coach Brooke Misenheimer may joke with her brother Kurt at the supper table, but she knew losing her assistant coach to their alma mater was a good move for him.
But she lost both of her assistants as Doug Faison took over the varsity girls at Salisbury.
PUT YOUR GUARD UP: Part of Nunn’s frustration last year was being open in the middle and instead of receiving a pass from the guards, he watched them jack up three after three. That has changed this year with the addition of Thaddeus Williams, who came in to help Causby over the summer.
“He helped with the ballhandling with our guards,” Causby said. “It’s no coincidence that our best teams here were when Thaddeus was our point guard.”
POINT OF ORDER: Returning career scoring leaders at the local schools are East boys (Josh Gobble, 131 points), West boys (Seth Martin, 211), Salisbury boys (Tyler Petty, 296), Carson boys (Tre Williams, 387), South boys (Medlin, 556), North boys (West, 579) and A.L. Brown boys (Derrick Copeland, 633).
North’s boys also return Ford (576), Connor (472). Michael Bowman (362) and T.J. Bates (209) and have the most proven players coming back in Rowan.
West’s point total reflects only his two seasons as a Cavalier. He played his sophomore season at North Hills and will be credited with those points if official stats can be determined.
Cody Martin has scored 668 points for Davie.
Returning scoring leaders for girls include North (Taylor Sells, 325), South (Locklear, 418), East (Wike, 462), Carson (Dulkoski, 841), West (Steele, 977) and Salisbury (Brielle Blaire, 978).
West also returns Nycieko Dixon (610). Carson also returns Allison Blackwell (790).
Dulkoski and Blackwell soon will be the top two scorers in Carson history and they are headed to being the school’s first 1,000-point scorers in girls basketball.
Blaire, a junior, is coming off a 647-point sophomore season that was the fourth-highest scoring season in school history, trailing only three Shayla Fields seasons.
Blaire is already 10th on Salisbury’s all-time scoring list and obviously could become a 1,000-point scorer on opening night.
Entering her senior season, Steele is 11th on the Falcons’ all-time scoring list. She also could become a 1,000-point scorer opening night. She needs 73 points to move into 10th place at West.
COACHES’ CORNER: Mike Gurley enters the season with 330 coaching victories at West. Shelwyn Klutz has 207 wins at A.L. Brown. Jason Causby has 122 wins at Salisbury.
STREAKY: Salisbury’s girls own a 48-game winning streak in county games and have won 62 of their last 63 county games. Their most recent loss was to North Rowan in January, 2006. Salisbury was 9-0 in county games last season and went 7-0, 8-0, 6-0, 6-0 and 10-0 in the five seasons prior to that. Salisbury started its current streak by winning its last two county games in the 2005-06 season, following the loss to North.
Salisbury hasn’t lost to West Rowan since an overtime setback early in the 2004-05 season. Salisbury hasn’t lost to East Rowan or South Rowan since the 2002-03 season and hasn’t ever lost to Carson.
Salisbury’s loss to South in a 2002 consolation game was the last time the Hornets fell in the Moir Christmas Classic. Salisbury has gone 21-0 in the last nine Moir events.
ON THE AIR: Hall of Famer Howard Platt will call 21 regular-season games this season on WSTP 1490-AM.
It all starts on Friday Nov. 30 when West Rowan travels to North Rowan. And then he goes with Mike Gurley’s Falcons to Salisbury on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
On Dec. 7, Platt is planning to be at Catawba for the Salisbury-North Rowan boys game.
WSTP will also be at the Moir Christmas Classic, calling both the girls and boys championships on Saturday Dec. 29.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London and Ryan Bisesi contributed to the prep hoops notebook.