Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

By Bill Kiser
Kannapolis Citizen
Northwest Cabarrus’ boys and girls basketball teams face two tough tests this week ó but only one of those will be on the basketball court.
The Trojans travel to Mount Ulla to play West Rowan in a key North Piedmont Conference matchup on Friday night ó but not before surviving exam week.
Northwest’s boys (13-3, 9-1) enter the week riding a two-game winning streak, having taken home victories over Lake Norman (92-82) on Jan. 8 and South Rowan (72-60) on Jan. 11.
The Trojans bolted out to a 50-23 halftime lead against the Wildcats, only to see them rally in the second half with a 28-12 third quarter.
“To be honest, if you’d have told me we’d be up by 27, I’d have said you were dreaming,” NWC head coach Daniel Jenkins said. “Lake Norman is a very good team ó (center Paul) Larsen inside is a monster, and they’ve got other guys who can shoot it. But we played really well as a team … and we’ve been moving the ball really well.”
That leaves the Trojans in second place in the conference standings, one game behind league-leading East Rowan but just one game ahead of the Falcons.
“The way things are stacked up at the top of the conference, every game is a big game,” Jenkins said. “But the fact that we’re right ahead of (West) makes this game a little bit bigger.
“All we can do is play the game, and hopefully we can have a good outcome again. That’ll give us a little cushion, a little breathing room … at least until we play again the following week.”
Jenkins gave his players a day off on Monday, but had them back on the practice court the following day to get ready to face West, which lost to NWC 58-56 on Dec. 7.
“Sometimes you can do too much … plus with exams starting up, I just decided to give them a break,” Jenkins said. “These guys have a ‘double scoop’ this week.
“We’re just going to work on our execution ó little things like blocking out, setting good screens, making that extra pass ó but I don’t think there’s anything special or something we need to cook up for them. We just need to work on the basic things, because that’s what separates really good teams from the mediocre teams.”
Northwest’s girls (6-10, 4-6) take a three-game losing streak into Friday night’s game against the Falcons.
The Trojans and West are tied for sixth place in the conference standings, but the edge is now held by NWC, which beat the Falcons 42-40 on Dec. 7.