A.L. Brown hits the road

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By Bill Kiser

Kannapolis Citizen

It’s now crunch time for A.L. Brown’s boys basketball team.

With three games remaining on the their regular-season schedule, the Wonders know that running the table could pay dividends beyond winning the South Piedmont Conference title.

Brown begins its stretch run on the road, opening Tuesday night with a SPC game against cross-town rival Concord at Concord High’s Rimer Gymnasium.

The Wonders hit the road again on Friday night against Parkwood, then take a few days off before wrapping up their regular-season schedule at home against Piedmont on Feb. 9.

A.L. Brown’s boys (14-6, 7-2) are still in the hunt for the SPC regular-season championship — and more important, the No. 1 playoff berth that goes with it — and in striking distance of league-leading Concord.

The Wonders found themselves in good position to battle for No. 1 after beating Anson County 74-53 on Jan. 23, but suffered a setback when they blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter in a 54-53 loss to Porter Ridge on Jan. 26.

The loss dropped A.L. Brown into a tie with Porter Ridge for second place in the league standings, just one-half game behind the frontrunning Spiders.

“It’s big time this week,” Wonders head coach Shelwyn Klutz said. “We’ve still got a lot to play for, but (Tuesday night) is going to tell the tale. It’s a very big game for us. … Hopefully, we can continue to play well.”

Brown enters the last weeks of the regular season on somewhat of a roll, winning five of its last six games.

While the Wonders lost earlier this season to the Spiders — 84-58 at Brown’s Bullock Gymnasium on Jan. 5 — they beat their other remaining opponents by double-digit margins last month. Brown dumped Parkwood 84-56 on Jan. 9 to kick off a five-game winning streak, then pounded Piedmont 67-39 on Jan. 16.

“It all depends on what happens these last three games,” Klutz said. “We’re still trying to get one of those higher seeds, and hopefully get a first-round playoff game at home. That’s our goal — to get one of those seeds.”

A.L. Brown’s girls, on the other hand, is trying to work its way into a playoff berth, but the Wonders suffered a setback last week.

Brown (7-13, 3-6) opened the week with a 55-40 victory over Anson County on Jan. 23 for the Wonders’ second consecutive win — the first time this season they had posted back-to-back wins.

However, three days later, A.L. Brown lost to Porter Ridge 51-42 on Jan. 26, dropping out of a tie for fourth in the South Piedmont Conference standings.

The split leaves the Wonders in fifth place in the conference, just one game behind Porter Ridge (4-5), with only four SPC teams earning playoff berths.

Brown will have a tough time making up ground over its remaining regular-season games — the Wonders’ opponents currently hold the top three spots in the SPC standings — so it would take an upset win for the conference tournament title to get that playoff spot.