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2009-2010 Basketball: North Rowan girls preview

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.comSPENCER ó A successful summer for North Rowan’s girls led to a rise in confidence.
The next step is increasing the win total.
The Cavaliers went 4-20 last season, the first with Tony Hillian in charge. He will count on players such as Symphony Roberts, Jasmine Turner, Tiffany Brown, Brittany Davis and Teaunna Cuthbertson to spark a turnaround.
“We’ve come a long way since last year,” Hillian said. “Second year, this year we should be very competitive and surprise a lot of people with our ability to get up and down the court, with our quickness, defensive skill and ability to finish games.
“We worked hard this summer, and I’m expecting a big change, and not just because we’re entering 1A competition. Even if it’d be 2A, I’ve seen great improvement.”North participated in two camps and played host to its own skills clinic this summer. The Cavaliers had seven or eight players on hand at a Carson camp and won three games, including a 50-18 decision against Northwest Cabarrus.
At a Catawba camp, North managed to beat East Rowan and Carson with only five players.
“They just really impressed me with their ability to go out there and do what they know they can do, and that’s play the game of basketball,” Hillian said.
Five seniors (Roberts, Davis, Jasmine Turner, Erika Turner, Shaquille Bagley), one junior (Kelli Berry) and three sophomores (Cuthbertson, Brown, Yasarian Bush) comprise the Cavs’ roster.
Hillian said Roberts, who averaged 11.6 points per game last season, is capable of playing four positions. The lineup he envisions using features her handling the ball as North’s point guard.
Roberts eclipsed 20 points on two occasions, and she scored 19 points in a 57-54 win against Lexington late in the season.
“She’s ready to bring her shooting ability and court smarts to help the lady Cavaliers win some more games this year,” Hillian said. “She’s our free-throw queen.”
Roberts went 132-for-150 from the line last season, and Cuthbertson should share some of the scoring load. She averaged 7.3 points as a varsity freshman and twice had 15 in a game.
Incredible leaping ability helped Cuthbertson establish herself as one of the state’s best track and field athletes. It also makes her a weapon in basketball ó she grabbed 19 rebounds in the late-season victory against Lexington.
“She’ll be an inside threat with her ability to jump out of the gym, her speed and her ability to get up and down the court,” Hillian said. “She’ll be a surprise and a key to our success. Her potential is great.”
Hillian praised the leadership and defensive ability of Jasmine Turner, who will contribute on the perimeter.
Brown appeared in 23 varsity games last season as a freshman and averaged 2.8 points per outing.
“She brings ball-handling skills and the ability to knock down jump shots,” Hillian said. “She’s going to give us a great spark with her shooting.”
Davis is a varsity newcomer with inside and outside skills whom Hillian said will be a key member of the team.
Bagley, who played basketball her first two years of high school, is back as a senior and is joined by classmate Erika Turner, who is strong defensively thanks to her speed.
Berry shoots the ball well, and Bush is another quick player with defensive potential.
North’s lineup might have an interesting look if Roberts is playing the “1” and Cuthbertson is handling the duties of the “5” spot. Most of the Cavaliers are versatile, meaning Roberts could be a passer or scorer depending on the need.
“She’s a good shooter and a great distributor,” Hillian said. “We’ll try to have her distribute more than we used to. If Tiffany’s at the ‘1,’ she can get her shot off at the ‘2.’ With Jasmine at the ‘1,’ Symphony can play the ‘2’ or ‘3.’ She played the ‘4’ over the summer, using her size to hit some layups.”

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