Northwest battling for position NWC teams tied up with exams

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2007

By Bill Kiser

Kannapolis Citizen

Northwest Cabarrus’ boys and girls basketball teams find themselves heading in different directions as the 2006-2007 season hits its homestretch.

The Trojans’ boys are on the upswing, and find themselves battling for a position in the state 3A playoffs.

Northwest’s girls, on the other hand, suffered a major setback as they try to climb out of the bottom half of the North Piedmont Conference standings.

With exams going on this week in the Cabarrus County Schools, the Trojans won’t play until Friday night, traveling to Iredell County to face West Iredell. That is the second in a four-game stretch against Iredell schools, which continues on Jan. 23 at Lake Norman and ends with a Jan. 26 home game against Mooresville.

Northwest Cabarrus’ boys (13-4, 5-2) find themselves in a three-way tie for second place — ironically, with West Iredell and Lake Norman — in the NPC standings.

The Trojans have won two of their last three games and four out of five after the holiday break. That includes victories over Carson (95-66 on Jan. 8) and Statesville (56-46 on Jan. 12) wrapped around a 67-63 loss to league-leading West Rowan on Jan. 10.

And in its next two games, Northwest will face off against teams that have different strengths — West Iredell is known as one of the NPC’s toughest defensive squads, while Lake Norman is considered one of the league’s top scoring teams.

“We’re going to have to work to score points (against West Iredell),” said Trojans head coach Daniel Jenkins. “And against Lake Norman, I don’t expect it to be like the last time we played (a 54-34 NWC win on Dec. 19). They didn’t shoot the ball that well in that game.”

Jenkins considers Northwest’s four-game swing against the NPC’s Iredell County schools — which began against the Greyhounds — the toughest his team will face this season. Three of the four are on the road, with the run closing on Jan. 26 when the Trojans host Mooresville.

“Lake Norman and Statesville are two of the toughest places to play, just because those two gyms are so different than anywhere else we play,” Jenkins said. “And West (Iredell) — playing there is like playing in a small-college atmosphere.

“This is an important stretch … so we’ve got to come out and be ready to play. We’ve also got to hope somewhere along the line that West Rowan has a hiccup like we did against Mooresville.”

Northwest Cabarrus’ girls are struggling to get into contention to make the state 3A playoffs, and suffered a major setback last week.

The Trojans enter this week having lost two straight games.

After beating winless Carson 59-41 on Jan. 8, Northwest followed that with back-to-back losses to West Rowan (46-45 on Jan. 10) and to conference-leading Statesville on Jan. 12.

The losses dropped Northwest into sixth place in the eight-school NPC, just one game ahead of Mooresville (1-6) and two ahead of Carson (0-7).

Their next opponents won’t be pushovers, either — West Iredell (4-3) is tied with West Rowan and North Iredell for third place in the NPC standings, while Lake Norman (6-1) is second, one full game behind the Greyhounds.

Following the loss to the Falcons — in which the game wasn’t decided until West’s Peyton Sawyer hit a game-winning free throw with 4.5 seconds remaining — Northwest head coach Daryl Crego was relieved of his position by school officials for still unspecified reasons.

Jessica Smith, the Trojans’ junior varsity girls head coach, took over as varsity head coach for the Statesville game, and will apparently pull double-duty for the rest of the season.