Big CCC matchup tonight

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 1, 2007

The most intriguing prep basketball matchup tonight? Gotta be that CCC boys game at Ledford between first-place Salisbury (8-2) and the second-place Panthers (7-3).

The teams were tied for the top spot going into Tuesday, but Ledford was getting beat by Lexington while Salisbury was whipping up on West Davidson.

So it’s a must-win for the Panthers.

At its best, Salisbury uses a powerful athletic presence to overwhelm opponents.

At its best, Ledford floats outside and lofts 3-pointer after 3-pointer into the basket.

So who will win?

Who better to ask about the outcome than West Davidson coach Russ Snyder, whose Green Dragons have lost to both teams.

“It will be interesting to see,” Snyder said following a 71-48 defeat at Salisbury. “It’s contrasting styles.”

Snyder has watched Ledford players such as Taylor Walser take their lumps over the last two seasons. Although the Panthers are only 11-11 overall, they’ve won enough in the league to make tonight special.

“Experience pays off,” Snyder said. “But that athletic ability of Salisbury is going to be the big difference-maker, I think. Ledford will make shots, but can they keep them off the boards?”

Salisbury (13-8) will have to communicate on defense, coach Jason Causby said. Ledford will not run — it held Salisbury to 59 points in an eight-point loss to the Hornets a couple of weeks ago.

“They’re not going to do a lot to beat themselves,” Causby said. “They’ll be patient running their sets in the halfcourt.”

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Salisbury girls coach Jennifer Shoaf is a bit uneasy meeting the third-place Panthers (14-8, 7-3) at a time when her team is struggling offensively. The Hornets (20-2, 9-1) had their worst shooting night in a 41-26 win over West Davidson on Tuesday.

Ledford lost 41-36 in the first meeting with Salisbury.

“That game was where all this started,” Shoaf said of the Hornets’ shooting struggles. “We need to get our confidence back somehow.

“Ledford’s beaten North (Rowan) since then. It’s a fight for third for them. Maybe even second.”

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Another showdown occurs at Lake Norman between the second-place Wildcat boys (14-6, 8-2 NPC) and first-place West Rowan (18-3, 10-1).

The Falcons lost their first league game Tuesday at Northwest Cabarrus.

“I told my guys, ‘I don’t disrespect you, but if you had told me we’d split with Northwest Cabarrus this year, I’d have said you had a chance to win the conference championship,’ ” West coach Mike Gurley said. “And we split.”

Gurley always mentions how tough it is to play in Northwest’s “Pit.”

Lake Norman presents different problems.

“It’s a humongous facility,” Gurley said. “You could fit two of our gyms, ceiling to floor, in there. It’s a different depth perception.”

A very loud student body Gurley calls the “Laker Loonies” will give the Falcons an earful. They always seem to be at their most vociferous against West, and it has worked. The Falcons haven’t won there in three years.

“That blue brings something out in people, doesn’t it?” Gurley chuckled. “I know Northwest was excited about beating us.”

So which gym is the toughest — Northwest’s or Lake Norman’s.

“A gym is a gym is a gym,” Gurley said. “If you’ve got a good team, it’s going to be a hard gym to win in.”

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Are Northwest’s boys (15-6, 7-4) in for a letdown tonight at Carson (2-18, 1-10) after coming up with the big win over West?

Carson should be full of confidence coming off its first-ever NPC win. It beat Mooresville on Tuesday.

Carson’s girls (1-18, 1-10) are feeling good about themselves after winning the first game in school history, They beat Mooresville by 14, and Northwest has been up and down all year.

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The country meets the city as East Rowan goes to Mount Tabor and West Forsyth travels to South Rowan in CPC action.

It’s almost a sure thing Andy Muse’s Spartans will play a different defense because East’s boys drained 17 — count ’em, 17 — 3-pointers in the first meeting.

East (18-2, 8-1) joins Reynolds as the only boys teams with one conference loss. Tabor is having a very un-Muse-like season, standing 11-10 overall and 5-4 in the league.

The South-West Forsyth doubleheader is a battle of fifth- and sixth-place teams in both boys and girls.

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Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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