Back to NPC for Trojans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

By Bill Kiser

Kannapolis Citizen

Northwest Cabarrus’ boys and girls basketball teams learned a few things during their recent run through the NorthEast Medical Christmas Classic holiday tournament.

Now the Trojans are ready to apply what they learned this week as they return to North Piedmont Conference play with two games in a three-day span.

Northwest hosts Statesville today, then travels to Olin on Friday to face North Iredell.

The Trojans boys (9-3, 1-1) resume conference play after winning two out of three games in the NorthEast Medical Classic.

Northwest, seeded second in the seven-team field, opened with a 68-50 victory over No. 7 seed West Stanly in the tournament’s opening round last Wednesday.

The Trojans were knocked out of the championship bracket by third-seeded Central Cabarrus, which beat Northwest 72-55 in the semifinals Thursday. Northwest then salvaged a third-place finish by defeating fourth-seeded Charlotte Myers Park 70-69 on Friday.

“We played well against West Stanly,” Trojans head coach Daniel Jenkins said. “We put them away pretty early, and I was glad to see us come out with that kind of intensity. But it was almost the opposite against Central Cabarrus — we missed probably 8-10 point-blank layups and we shot 9-of-21 from the free throw line, yet it was still about an eight-point game with about four minutes left.

“(The Myers Park) game was a big win for us, because they’re a well-coached team and they’ve got the inside and outside game. I was proud of the guys for staying focused and maintaining their composure.”

Now, Jenkins is ready to see Northwest get back into conference play, and the Trojans face two tough opponents in their first NPC action since Dec. 21, when they were upset by Mooresville.

While Statesville (2-9, 0-2) sits at the bottom of the league standings with Carson, Northwest’s next opponent is among the conference’s best. North Iredell (9-2, 2-0) is tied with West Rowan atop the NPC standings and is coming off a last-second, 48-47 loss to conference and county rival West Iredell in the R&L Holiday Classic.

“We can’t look past Statesville … because they’re very athletic,” Jenkins said. “The games they’ve lost, they’ve been in them until the last minutes of the game. You can’t look at their record and think we’re going to walk in and beat them.

“But if we beat Statesville, then the North Iredell game could be a good measuring stick for us. They’re a team that can put up some points … and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. It’s going to be a tough game.”

Northwest Cabarrus’ girls resume conference play after dropping two out of three in the NorthEast Medical Classic. After opening with a 52-34 win over fifth-seeded A.L. Brown, the fourth-seeded Trojans lost to No. 1 seed Concord

46-45 in the semifinals and to Central Cabarrus 35-33 in the third-place game.

The loss to Central, seeded second, came despite the Trojans rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit to lead by three points with less than 40 seconds to play. But the Vikings cut the margin to one point, then got a 3-pointer from Brittany Furr with four seconds left to win it.

“We slowed it down — I mean way down — and never let them get a good run on us,” Northwest head coach Daryl Crego said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and slowly but surely chipped away at them. … It was a crazy game, but I was proud of the girls.”

Now Northwest Cabarrus returns to league play and will face two of the NPC frontrunners. Statesville (10-2) and North Iredell (6-5) are in a three-way tie (with West Iredell) atop the league standings, while the Trojans are tied with Lake Norman for fourth in the NPC.

“Statesville is a very tough team, and North Iredell has squeaked out their two wins,” Crego said. “I can see us in the top three in the conference, and we’re coming into our own as far as the team playing together.

“We’re not looking past anyone though. … This tournament was great for us because it proved that we can stop people from running on us. It was a good experience for us, but we’re ready to get back to conference play.”