Moir girls preview: Salisbury girls go for 6

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2008

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
Things that come in sixes include hockey teams, guitar strings, the “Brady Bunch” kids, canned beverages and the cast of “Friends.”
Unless something unexpected happens, championships by the Salisbury girls in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic will join the list.
Salisbury ó which won just one of the first 28 girls tournaments ó has taken the last five, and the gap between the Hornets and the pack appears to be increasing.
Salisbury started its current string with a 61-60 victory over West Rowan in the 2003 championship game. The Hornets beat North Rowan by four and five points for their next two crowns.
The Hornets romped over the Cavaliers 59-42 in 2006 and enjoyed the most lopsided title game in Moir history when they pounded East Rowan 76-27 in 2007.
That made it 12 straight Moir wins for the Hornets, who haven’t lost in the event since they fell to South in a 2002 consolation game.
Salisbury hasn’t just been beating people in the county. Overall, the Hornets have won 148 of their last 160 outings ó 93-percent efficiency.
Andrew Mitchell, the 1983 tournament MVP when he led North’s boys to a championship as a player, is Salisbury’s first-year coach and has the Hornets (9-0) clicking again
They won a game by 91 points. They held a CCC foe to a school-record eight points. They’ve already beaten second-seeded South Rowan (6-3) by 43 points on the road.
No. 3 seed East (5-3) can make a convincing argument that it’s the second-best girls team in Rowan because it beat South 57-43.
East has a seasoned pair of four-year varsity players in Katelynne Poole and Ashley Collins as well as the one player in the county ó sophomore Olivia Rankin ó who is big enough and skilled enough to give Salisbury trouble.
East lost 69-46 to the Hornets in Granite Quarry, and it’s hard to see the Mustangs closing all of that gap on a neutral floor.
Salisbury is deeper, quicker, faster and better defensively than anyone else, and it has two-time MVP Shi-Heria Shipp to anchor things. That’s true even if Bubbles Phifer, who has missed the last two games, isn’t 100 percent.
West hasn’t won the event since 1996. Davie hasn’t won since 2000. East hasn’t won since 2001. North hasn’t won since 2002. South hasn’t won since the girls tournament was played at Thanksgiving in the Tracy Connor days.
Some are calling it the Hornet Invitational, and it’s hard to argue.
Any drama will likely come in the early games.
South’s first tournament meeting with seventh-seeded Carson today will be historic.
Fourth-seeded West Rowan and fifth-seeded Davie open the event with a rematch of a recent struggle that the War Eagles won 51-50 in overtime.
If South and East meet in a Monday semifinal as expected, their matchup alone may be worth the $6 daily admission.
They went at it like Hatfields and McCoys last time and probably will do so again.

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