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Northwest Cabarrus face crucial conference games

By Bill Kiser

Kannapolis Citizen

Northwest Cabarrus’ student body has their midterm exams to look forward to next week.

But the Trojans’ boys and girls basketball teams will face their own test this week, playing three North Piedmont Conference games in a five-day span.

After a home game against first-year school Jesse C. Carson on Monday night, Northwest hits the road for its next two games — at West Rowan on Wednesday, and at Statesville on Friday night.

After that, the Trojans won’t play again until Friday, Jan. 19, traveling back to Iredell County to play at West Iredell.

“We had to cram some basketball games, so I guess our guys will be cramming it in on both the court and in the classroom,” NWC boys head coach Daniel Jenkins said. “Northwest Cabarrus’ boys enter this week’s games riding a three-game winning streak, including a 71-56 victory over Statesville on Jan. 3 and a 64-58 win over North Iredell on Jan. 5.”

But the key game for the Trojans in the stretch will be against West Rowan (11-2, 4-0), which is undefeated in conference play.

“We had a pretty good week last week,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got to worry about Carson first, but we’ve got a huge game coming up on Wednesday.”

The Trojans (11-3) are tied for second at 3-1 with Lake Norman, so a win over the Falcons on Wednesday could create a three-way tie for the North Piedmont Conference lead.

“I think we match up with them pretty well,” Jenkins said. “I think we’re pretty athletic, and I think we have a similar philosophy — we like to play a lot of man to man, and we like to force other teams to work real hard on the offensive and defensive side.”

“It’ll probably come down to which team executes better through the whole game — every possession is going to matter, every offensive rebound is going to make a big difference — so little things could make a big difference.” For Northwest Cabarrus’ girls, however, this week’s slate of games offers the Trojans a chance to begin climbing out of the North Piedmont Conference cellar.

Northwest (7-7, 1-3) has lost its last four games, including a pair of tough defeats last week. The Trojans fell to conference leader Statesville 55-46 on Jan. 3, then battled into overtime with North Iredell before losing 65-61 on Jan. 5.

In that game, Northwest led by four points with 40 seconds remaining in the extra period, but the Raiders broke through thanks to a seven-point turnaround — a 3-point play off a stolen inbounds pass and foul, and a pair of technical fouls called on the Trojans.

“We had control of the game … but there was a lot of chaos,” Northwest head coach Daryl Crego said. “It was total craziness. I could say something about the officiating, but I’m not.”

Against Statesville, the Greyhounds looked to be on the verge of a runaway after outscoring the Trojans 24-7 in the second quarter to pull ahead 34-16 at the halftime break.

“They killed us in the second quarter, but we dug ourselves out of the hole,” Crego said. “Now we’ve got a crazy week coming up, which I’m not really looking forward to.”

“But I told the girls that we have 10 conference games left, and I believe we can win them all. … But I set an attainable goal — to finish up 6-4.”

That’ll give us a winning season, that’ll make us 7-7 in the conference and that’ll get us in the state tournament.”

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