On the road again …
Salisbury, West Rowan and East Rowan’s boys basketball team are on the road tonight for the second round of the state playoffs.
Games are at 7 p.m. These are sectional semifinals. Two more victories are required to qualify for the West Regional.
n East (23-4) travels to Concord (25-3) for one of the most anticipated showdowns in the 3A playoffs. East can tie the school record for wins, but it got tossed into a bear of a sectional.Defending state champion Concord is guided by former Catawba assistant Scott Brewer, who masterminded an upset of a powerhouse West Rowan team in 2000 and went on to win a state championship when he was coaching Central Cabarrus.
Brewer is in his first season at Concord. His team is ranked fifth in 3A, with understandable losses to 4A power Vance and Oak Hill Academy, and one hard-to-explain loss to Marvin Ridge, which finished fifth in the SPC.
Concord romped through the SPC regular season and breezed through the league tournament, even though it is now playing without 6-foot-7 Tomas Vegys, who suffered a season-ending injury.
Concord has great athletes in Jacquise Moore, Corey Thompson, Jimmy Drye and Roger Smith. It also has one of the state’s slickest guards in SPC Player of the Year Danny Nieman (seven assists per game) and a terrific young shooter in Griffin Templeton.
Nieman and Drye are 1,000-point scorers.
East’s 1,000-point scorers, seniors Justin Vanderford (21.1 points a game) and Kenan McKenzie (12 3-pointers in his last two outings), were freshmen when East overcame a high-flying Concord squad 61-52 in Granite Quarry in a memorable 2005 sectional final.
Concord won a rematch 52-48 early in the 2005-06 season.
The survivor takes on the winner of the Ragsdale-Glenn matchup. You guessed it. Even if East gets through this one, it’s on the road again Friday.
n West junior K.J. Sherrill (18.5 points a game) surpassed 1,000 career points with his career-best 34 points in Tuesday’s overtime victory at T.C. Roberson in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
The road victories over No. 1 seeds by West, a No. 3 seed, and Mooresville, a No. 4, showed the depth of the NPC.So did NPC No. 5 seed Lake Norman’s four-point loss at SPC kingpin Concord.
Charlotte Catholic (13-14) competes in the Queen City Conference, a split 3A/4A league that included 4A powers West Meck and Harding, so the Cougars’ modest record could be misleading.
Catholic is a notoriously tough environment in every sport, but it can’t be any tougher for the Falcons (20-6) than traveling to the Asheville area to play T.C. Roberson. Lots more traffic, but lots fewer miles.
A.L. Brown outlasted Catholic 86-82 in the first round of the playoffs last season in Charlotte, and if the Cougars couldn’t contain 6-foot-3 Jacob Newman, they could have their hands full with the 6-6 Sherrill.
West is 4-0 all-time against Catholic, although the squads haven’t met since the 1990-91 season.
The West-Catholic winner plays the survivor of the Gastonia Hunter Huss-Hickory matchup. West will be on the road again Friday if it survives tonight.
– In 2A, Salisbury, CCC tournament champion and winner of eight of its last nine games, travels to Monroe.
The Redhawks (21-7) are a No. 1 seed from the split 1A/2A Rocky River Conference that includes 1A powerhouse Albemarle. Salisbury (18-10) overwhelmed Rocky River squad North Stanly 93-52 in the first round, but the Redhawks should provide a much stiffer test.
It’s a big opportunity for the Hornets, who are led by junior Brandon Abel’s 14 points and 11 rebounds per game. While the girls team has been a terror in recent seasons, Salisbury’s boys haven’t won back-to-back playoff games since 1994.The Salisbury-Monroe winner plays the Bessemer City-Starmount survivor. If Salisbury advances, it would have to travel again on Friday.
n NPC No. 1 seed Northwest Cabarrus (23-5) is home for the second time and faces Reagan (15-10). That points out just how critical Northwest’s victory over East late in the regular season was. Reagan could upset Northwest tonight, but you’d rather be playing Reagan at home than Concord on the road.
n Mooresville, which knocked off Kings Mountain in the first round, stays on the road at Asheville (17-10).
The NPC keeps logging miles. Can it keep logging victories?