2009-2010 Basketball: North Rowan boys preview
By Bret Strelow
SPENCER ó The combination of solid veterans and young talent could go a long way toward making North Rowan’s boys basketball team successful in a league that requires several long trips.
The Cavaliers, in their debut season as a 1A athletics program, welcome back standouts such as Javon Hargrave, Greg Sims and C.J. Fortson from a team that went 7-17. The addition of several notable newcomers excites coach Kelly Everhart.
“I think we can have a fantastic season,” Everhart said. “I hope these guys come to work each and every day to improve because I feel like we have the nucleus, over the next couple years, we could really get on a big roll here in basketball.”
The makeup of the Yadkin Valley Conference is relatively unfamiliar. Everhart, who drives the team bus, attended some of the football team’s road games to get a better idea where some of the schools are located.
South Stanly and Albemarle, also newcomers to the conference, were the top two 1A teams in the split-classification Rocky River Conference last season. Albemarle reached the regionals in 2008.
Jordan-Matthews and Thomasville were the top two finishers in the YVC last season, but neither school is still in the league. West Montgomery and East Montgomery placed third and fourth, respectively.
North Rowan last had a winning record in 2001, when it went 27-1 and qualified for regional play.
“We’re going to try to do the things we do extremely well,” Everhart said.
Everhart’s top priority is actually time management.
Mid-week travel to a far-away location such as Chatham Central or North Moore presents unique challenges when it comes to completing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
“One of my biggest concerns is making sure we do what we need to do in the classroom,” Everhart said. “These guys are going to be on the road so much, they’re going to have to take their books with them and do studying on the bus.”
Everhart has considered an additional option.
“I’ve even thought about contacting some of the schools to see if we could possibly get a room to use as a study hall once we get to a school and are waiting for our game to start,” he said. “I know that sounds kind of crazy and you want your kids thinking about basketball, but school has to come first.”
Hargrave, a junior, averaged 8.2 points a game and established himself as a force on the boards last season.
He had 35 rebounds in three Sam Moir Christmas Classic games, grabbing eight offensive ones against Salisbury and totaling 16 boards against East Rowan in a fifth-place game.
“He is a big, wide body inside and is a really strong rebounder,” Everhart said. “I think he should have a big year. We don’t know what the competition will be like in a 1A conference. In 2A, not too many people could match up with his physical strength.”
Fortson is an athletic wing player who likes to penetrate and use his jumping ability. He played in 15 games last season and reached double figures five times.
Sims averaged 3.0 points in North’s first 11 games last season and scored in double figures six times in the last 13 contests. He had 14-point outings against Central Davidson and Lexington late in the year.
“The last two years Greg has started a little slow but come on toward the end of the year,” Everhart said. “Hopefully we’ll get him going a little sooner this year.
“There are very few seniors on this team. Greg and C.J. having the most varsity experience, those two guys have to help guide and lead these youngsters along.”
Point guards Pierre Givens, a left-handed sophomore, and Wesley Barker will spend time with Sims in the backcourt. Givens moved up to the varsity late last season and has good size for a point guard. Barker played that position for the jayvee team a year ago and has worked hard in the weight room.
Malik Ford, a 6-foot-4 freshman, should step in and be an interior threat. He was the center on an undefeated eighth-grade team at North Rowan Middle School.
“Last year he didn’t look to score a whole lot, but he’s another one who’s worked pretty hard in the weight room during the fall,” Everhart said. “He has really worked on his inside moves. We’ll be counting on him to score and take some of the pressure off Javon inside. He can play above the rim.”
Everhart said Samuel Starks, who contributed to the varsity team last season, has the potential to be a defensive stopper on the perimeter.
Frontcourt depth should come from freshman Oshon West, who has a solid, 6-1 frame, and 6-3 sophomore Daniel Chambers. Everhart said Chambers made the biggest strides of anyone on the jayvee team last year.
Patrick Bush, Reggie Smyre and Jarvis Witherspoon will also compete for playing time.
“We would like to apply lots of pressure, try to get up and down the court in a hurry,” Everhart said. “Everybody on our team can run.”