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Prep notebook: Busy basketball slate

From staff reports
Prep hoops notebook …
Tonight’s NPC schedule has Lake Norman at East Rowan, South Rowan at Carson and West Rowan at West Iredell. Figure on the varsity girls games starting around 6:30 p.m.
In the CCC, West Davidson is at Salisbury, and East Davidson is at North Rowan. Varsity girls games should tip promptly at 6 p.m.
A.L. Brown comes off an extended layoff after having no Christmas tournament activity and entertains SPC foe Hickory Ridge tonight.
Davie County returns to non-conference action at Eastern Randolph and finally starts CPC play Friday at home against West Forsyth.
Tonight’s circled games are the South-Carson and North Rowan-East Davidson boys contests and the East Rowan-Lake Norman girls game.
* Both South and Carson can ill afford a loss. The NPC gets six playoff teams, and South and Carson will be part of a pack of five (possibly six) squads fighting for the last three berths.
The gym will be full of neighbors, and the teams are even. Both are 6-7 overall. South is seventh at 3-4 in the league, while Carson is eighth at 2-5. Carson nipped South in the third-place game in the Moir Classic.
Carson’s Darius Moose enters the game with 963 points and averages 17.0. Moose had the first big outing of his career against the Raiders when he scored 26 in the Christmas tournament.
The Cougars historically have done a good defensive job against the county’s leading scorer Hunter Morrison, who averages 21.9 points. The South senior has never scored more than 14 against Carson.
* Are North’s boys for real? Coach Kelly Everhart’s Cavs are on a three-game winning streak, their best run since they won five in a row in January, 2007.
North has beaten East Davidson four straight times. On paper, North is the pick to make it five in a row, but ED looked better than its 2-8 record when it lost to Salisbury 59-45 on Friday. ED trailed by seven at halftime.
Key players for ED are big man Kyle Branson, Keaton Hawks and Blake Dodd. They didn’t shine against Salisbury, but they’re capable.
* East’s girls (8-4, 6-1) will battle Lake Norman (9-3, 6-1) to decide the NPC’s second-best team. There is little doubt that Statesville, which already has handled both contenders, is headed for another championship.
East usually plays its best against Lake Norman. As solid as the Wildcats always are, the Mustangs have won nine of 10 meetings. The series officially stands at 7-3 because East forfeited both 2003 victories due to an ineligible player.
East was 3-0 against the Wildcats last season, including two serious blowouts.
*
TEAMING UP: With 858 career points, East senior Katelynne Poole is a great bet to reach 1,000 because she averages 18.1 points a game.
Senior Ashley Collins became the seventh girl at East to score 1,000 on Friday, and the girls program soon could have its first set of 1,000-point classmates.
Salisbury had a pair in 2006 when Saybah Sammy and Ashley Watkins reached the milestone.
South’s Class of 1999 included a trio of 1,000-point scorers, although only Janetta Heggins scored 1,000 in a South uniform. Abby Cress, who started at Sheets Memorial, and Latoya Ramsey, who began her career at West Rowan, reached the magic milestone as South seniors.
*
HORNET HOOPS: Salisbury’s girls lost 52-46 to East Davidson on Friday. It’s almost certain the Hornets will have to win the rematch at top-ranked ED on Jan. 27 if they’re going to share the CCC title with the Golden Eagles and extend their streak of league championships to six in a row.
Ledford looks like the third-best team in the CCC and has already lost to the Golden Eagles 53-18 in a Christmas tournament game played at Ledford. That indicates the chance of ED losing to anyone in the CCC other than the Hornets is remote.
Salisbury’s current streak of five straight regular-season titles (or co-titles) is a county girls record, but it should be noted South won four straight outright titles in the CPC from 1989-1992.
*
FOUL PLAY: Salisbury’s girls were whistled for only three fouls to East Davidson’s seven in the first half, but the calls evened up in the second halfó and then some ó as 11 fouls were called on the Hornets and four on the Golden Eagles.
East Davidson star Anna Freeman got two fouls early and sat down for five minutes, but avoided foul trouble the rest of the way. That was a huge factor.
“It hurts when we don’t have Anna out there,” East Davidson senior Elizabeth Merritt said. “But this game we did as well as we can do without her.”
Catawba assistant coaches Ricky Joines and Dorthell Little were on hand to watch Merritt, who signed with the Indians. She had 12 points, eight rebounds and hit the key stickback that put East Davidson ahead to stay.
*
NOTHING EASY: Salisbury’s girls did more right than wrong against East Davidson. Salisbury (11-1) played a turnover-free second quarter and held a 21-10 edge in turnovers for the game.
The problem was few East Davidson miscues were in the backcourt, where point guard Candace Fox was tough to press, and even fewer led directly to transition points.
Salisbury didn’t get many easy opportunities, and that’s why it shot 23 percent.
Salisbury shot 0-for-14 from the floor in the first quarter, its key scorers Shi-Heria Shipp (6-for-19) and Bubbles Phifer (4-for-19) were a little off, and it still led late in the game. So there’s reason to believe the Hornets can get even in the rematch.
“East Davidson is a good team and I can’t take anything away from them,” Salisbury coach Andrew Mitchell said. “Everyone tells me we’ll see them two more times, maybe three more times, and we’ll keep working. This loss is fuel.”
*
AROUND THE HORN: Salisbury boys fans will keep a close eye on stars Darien Rankin and Brandon Abel tonight. Both were banged up Friday. Abel has 975 career points and is capable of reaching 1,000 tonight if he’s good to go. … West Rowan’s boys have a huge game at Lake Norman Wednesday. It’s a makeup from football season and will be a varsity boys game only with a 7 p.m. tip. Lake Norman is the only 3A team in the state still unbeaten, and the Falcons are perfect in the NPC. West has won the last five meetings. … The Falcons can’t overlook West Iredell tonight. The Warriors are 9-4 overall. West Iredell is 0-7 against the Falcons the last three seasons, but two went to the wire. … Taylor May is 14th on South’s scoring list with 811 and can pass Alexius Blackwood and Kat Van Wieren with eight points tonight.

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