Northwest readies for tournament action

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2006

By Bill Kiser

Kannapolis Citizen

The boys and girls basketball teams at Northwest Cabarrus both hit road bumps last week in their bids to win the North Piedmont Conference championships.

However, both Trojan teams have a chance to get back on track this week in the three-day Northeast Medical Center Classic holiday tournament.

Northwest’s boys (7-2, 1-1 North Piedmont Conference) enter the tournament having split its first two conference games last week.

The Trojans opened with a runaway 54-34 win over Lake Norman — considered a contender for the NPC title this season — on Dec. 19. However, two days later, Northwest lost a 45-44 decision to Mooresville to snap a three-game winning streak.

“We played real well coming out, with a lot of intensity,” Trojans head coach Daniel Jenkins said. “But our guys fell into that lull that high school kids get sometimes — they forgot what we had done to be so successful. It wasn’t the fact that we were that much better than everybody else, we were just working hard.

“They got into that lull. They thought things would be easy. You play teams like that, especially teams you think you’re better than, and you give them a chance to get back in the game. That’s what happened against Mooresville. We just let them get back in the game.”

Northwest Cabarrus enters the NorthEast Medical Classic as its No. 2 seed, and will face seventh-seeded West Stanly in the tournament’s opening round at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Concord High School’s Rimer Gymnasium.

The Trojans have played the Colts once this season, beating them 53-46 on Nov. 29 behind 12 points and eight assists from Jon Hathcock, 12 points from Brien Garcia and six rebounds and five blocks by Roy Allison.

“We’ve seen them once this year, and we had a close game,” Jenkins said. “Hopefully we won’t fall into that trap that we don’t have to work hard and it’ll come easy to us.”

A win on Wednesday would send Northwest into Thursday’s semi-finals against either No. 3 seed Central Cabarrus or sixth-seeded J.M. Robinson, who play their first-round game Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Trojans have also played Central and Robinson this season, beating the Vikings 58-53 on Dec. 12 and the Bulldogs 68-63 on Nov. 27.

Other first-round matchups Wednesday have top-seeded Concord face No. 8 seed Mount Pleasant at 4 p.m., and No. 4 seed Charlotte Myers Park taking on fifth-seeded A.L. Brown at 5:30 p.m.

The semifinal and opening consolation rounds will be played Thursday at Concord, with the championship and consolation games set for Friday at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord. The consolation games will be played at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., with the boys title game set for 8:30 p.m.

Northwest Cabarrus’ girls (6-3, 1-1 NPC) also split their first two conference games, getting thrashed by Lake Norman 65-33 on Dec. 19, but turning around with a 46-37 victory over Mooresville on Dec. 21 to snap a three-game losing streak.

“We had a great first half, but we probably had the worst second half I’ve seen the girls play in two years,” Trojans head coach Daryl Crego said. “We only scored 10 points in the second half, and we probably took a total of 10 shots total in the half. Lake Norman’s got a solid team … but our girls didn’t play up to their potential.

“They disappeared (against Lake Norman), and I’m not sure where they went. But they found themselves again against Mooresville. I was able to play everybody. We didn’t take them lightly, but this gave us an opportunity to get some kids in.”

Crego will see a familiar face on Northwest’s opponents’ bench in its first-round game at the Northeast Medical Classic — Tosha Robinson, whose fifth-seeded A.L. Brown team plays the No. 4-seeded Trojans at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brown’s Bullock Gymnasium. Crego and Robinson are both teachers at Kannapolis Middle School, and have known each other for years.

“We’re going to have to play a much more disciplined game than the last time,” said Crego, whose Trojans beat the Wonders 36-33 on Dec. 6. “Coach Robinson’s team has shown a lot of improvement, and I’ve got a lot of respect for her. It’s a friendly rivalry.”

A win on Wednesday would send Northwest onto a semifinal meeting Thursday against either top-seeded Concord or No. 8 seed Mount Pleasant, who play each other at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bullock Gym.

Northwest has also played both of its potential semifinal opponents, and beaten them both. The Trojans downed the Spiders 44-40 on Dec. 8 and the Tigers 47-35 on Dec. 5.

The other first-round pairings will see third-seeded Charlotte Myers Park play No. 6 seed J.M. Robinson at 7 p.m., and No. 2 seed Central Cabarrus face seventh-seeded West Stanly at 8:30 p.m.

The semifinal and opening consolation rounds will be played Thursday at Bullock Gym, with the championship and consolation games set for Friday at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord. The consolation games will be played at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., with the girls final set for 7 p.m.