Top 12 in hoops from 2007
By Mike London
Local basketball in 2007 was highlighted by the Salisbury girls (26-4) making more history with their fifth straight trip to the 2A Western Regional.
Salisbury ran into Smoky Mountain jet and current North Carolina Tar Heel Cetera DeGraffenreid once it got to Winston-Salem, but the Hornets kept an amazing string going.
Qualifying for the Western Regional means you are one of the final eight in the state, and even West Rowan’s perennially powerful boys program has never done it five straight seasons.
West’s boys were a regional qualifier 11 out of 14 seasons from 1990-2003 under coaches Jack Lytton, Charles Hellard and Mike Gurley but never five seasons in a row.
Led by Rowan County Player of the Year and East-West All-Star Jamel Carpenter, West’s boys won 26 games, including the NPC regular-season and tournament titles. Gurley racked up his eighth regular-season title in 10 seasons at West, and the Falcons won the tournament for the first time since 2003 by unleashing K.P. Parks’ quickness on nemesis Northwest Cabarrus.Salisbury’s girls shared the CCC title with East Davidson, while the Hornet boys swept regular-season and conference tournament titles for the first time since they had Bobby Jackson in the backcourt in 1992.
East’s boys finished second in the CPC in their last season in 4A, posted one of the best records in school history (23-5) and pushed a towering Hopewell team to the wire in the playoffs.
West’s girls extended their streak of winning seasons to 12, while North Rowan’s girls, led by Rowan County Player of the Year Shemieka Brown, won 15 games and gave coach Mike White his fifth straight winning season.
Carson’s boys were respectable in their first season and raised eyebrows with a triple-overtime loss to contender West Iredell.
A.L. Brown’s boys turned in a solid 18-9 slate and avenged football playoff losses by beating Charlotte Catholic in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.
Catawba’s women’s team finished 20-9, but it was snubbed for regional play.
Catawba’s men won the SAC regular-season championship and went 20-11. Two key victories came in contests with Carson-Newman in which scoreboards got a workout. The teams combined for 447 points.
Catawba’s season ended with an overtime loss to Elite Eight participant Clayton State in the South Atlantic Regional.
Catawba’s 2007-08 season has already included a comeback from an 18-point deficit against Johnson C. Smith, and more fireworks can be expected.
12 memorable games from 2007 …No. 12 West 70, North Iredell 68Feb. 9, Olin
West’s boys pulled one out against the upset-minded Raiders on Kaleb Kimber’s 15-foot jumper with two seconds left.
Carpenter hit five 3-pointers in a game in which the lead changed hands six times.
North 61, Salisbury 52Jan. 10, SpencerNorth’s boys lost their first 11 games, but they gained respect when they knocked off their biggest rival at home.
Spencer Sheets and Winslow Cherry combined for 37 points and coach Kelly Everhart’s triangle-and-two defense limited Doug Campbell to 11 points and ex-Cavalier Joe Allen to eight.
No. 10 Catawba 108, Wingate 105 (OT)Feb. 3, Goodman Gym
The Catawba men needed 32 points and 12 assists from Brian Graves, 22 points from Chris Wooldridge and 13 rebounds from Norman Monroe to hold off a talented squad that shot 57 percent in the second half.
The victory keyed Catawba’s run to the regular-season title, but Wingate beat the Indians in the finals of the SAC tournament.
Carson 47, Mooresville 33Jan. 30, MooresvilleWhen Carson’s girls lost to Mooresville 34-33 at home, it appeared they’d let their only realistic chance for a victory in their first season slip away.
But the Cougars rolled in the rematch on the road behind seniors Charlena Lynn, Mack White and Natasha Howell.
Eleven months later, Carson got its second win when it beat North Rowan for its first victory in China Grove.
No. 8 South 79, W. Forsyth 51Feb. 2, Landis
South’s boys had lost 39 straight times to West Forsyth in a streak that dated back to 1989.
Chris Paul helped the Titans win a lot of those games, but this time West had no Pauls on its roster.
The fired-up Raiders drilled 10 3-pointers in the first half and won going away. Wesley Honeycutt hit six 3s and scored 30 points.
The Raider Rowdies, most of whom hadn’t been born when South last beat West Forsyth, waved keys and chanted “Drive home safely” in the final minutes.
No. 7 West 46, NW Cabarrus 45Jan. 10, Mount Ulla
Rachel Graham scored a career-high 20 points for West’s girls in a chaotic game decided by a Peyton Sawyer free throw. Sawyer got a chance to go to the line when she drove and drew a foul in the final second.
Was Sawyer fouled when Liana Erickson blocked her shot ó or wasn’t she?
West coach Bob Blake was sure Sawyer was fouled. Northwest coach Daryl Crego was dismayed by the call and actually lost his job in the crazy days following the tussle.
No. 6 Salisbury 74, Ashe Co. 59Feb. 24, Salisbury
Kwameshia Hicks drained four 3-pointers for a quick 14-4 lead. Her red-hot right wrist made the difference against one of the best teams Salisbury encountered all season.
Hicks hit seven 3s in the first half and scored 30 points to propel Salisbury’s girls to their fifth straight regional.
No. 5 Catawba 115, Carson-Newman 113Feb. 28, Goodman Gym
This one made the Catawba men’s 112-107 victory over the Eagles in Jefferson City a week earlier seem almost calm.
The Indians shot 65 percent from the field, and Catawba’s great seniors Chris Wooldridge (35 points) and Brian Graves (15 assists) were at their best.
No. 4 Salisbury 45, E. Davidson 42Jan. 19, Salisbury
De’Rya Wylie and Lakendra Williams combined for 27 points as Salisbury’s girls beat East Davidson and avenged a 49-47 loss in Thomasville.
It was the 13th straight win for the Hornets and the first loss of the season for East Davidson, the No. 1-ranked 2A team in the state.
No. 3 East 82, W. Forsyth 78 (OT)Jan. 30, Granite Quarry
East’s boys needed one of the finest performances in school history from Kenan McKenzie to overcome the Titans. The coach’s son poured in 41 points ó one short of the school record ó and 10 rebounds.
East missed 16 of its first 17 3-point attempts before McKenzie caught fire. He was 9-for-18 on 3-pointers and scored 10 points in OT.
No. 2 South 50, W. Forsyth 49
Feb. 2, Landis
South’s girls had lost nine straight to West Forsyth, but Kristen Brown’s last-second 3-pointer from deep in the corner ended the skid in style. It was Brown’s only field goal of the night.
With 4.5 seconds left and the Raiders trailing 49-47, coach Jim Brooks got a fortunate timeout from an official who didn’t realize South had lost control and both teams were scrambling for a loose ball in the lane.
The timeout gave South the possession that led to Brown’s shot, but the Raiders were due for a break against the Titans.
Said Brooks: “We got a big call, but sometimes when you’re hustling and busting it, you will get a call. But all that call got us was a timeout. We still had to do something with it.”
Brown did something.
No. 1 Salisbury 87, East 83 (OT)
Dec. 28, Goodman Gym
Brandon Abel, Terrell Allison and Ibn Ali offered phenomenal performances, and a Salisbury team that entered the tournament 3-6 knocked off top-seeded East Rowan in a semifinal in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
Romar Morris’ huge steal and backwards scoop shot as he was fouled turned the tide for SHS in overtime.
“It just went in ó I just threw it up there,” Morris said. “I didn’t think I’d make it.”
He made it.
Abel and Allison combined for 45 points and 25 rebounds and offset 28 points by East’s Justin Vanderford, who made a terrific shot to force overtime.
An exhausted Salisbury team held off Davie County the next night to win its first title in 10 years. It was the 11th Christmas title for the Hornet boys and broke a tie with West.
With its girls team taking its fifth straight title, Salisbury earned the first Christmas tournament sweep since West did it in 1992. The only other Christmas sweep was accomplished by East in 1975.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.
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