Cavaliers headed for fourth straight 20-win season

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 21, 2013

Boys basketball notebook …
Coach Andrew Mitchell’s North Rowan’s boys (12-3, 8-0 Yadkin Valley Conference) are well on their way to their fourth consecutive 20-win season, which would be a school record.

North went 20-6 in 2009-10, was 27-5 in winning the state 1A title in 2010-11, and put up a 25-4 mark last season.

North also enjoyed three consecutive 20-win seasons in the mid-1980s under coach Bob Hundley, including the 1986 2A state champs.

North already has won a school-record three straight league championships, two outright, plus a share of the title with Albemarle in 2011. The key to winning a fourth YVC crown in a row will be finishing a sweep of once-beaten Albemarle in a game that has been rescheduled for Jan. 31.

North is 52-4 in YVC play since moving down to the 1A ranks. North will shift back to 2A and will return to the Central Carolina Conference next fall.

The Cavaliers, who have played their last four games without double-figure scorer Michael Connor (knee), are on the road at North Moore tonight. The Cavaliers are 7-0 against North Moore since joining the YVC. Both games were tight in the 2009-10 season, but the last five meetings have been one-sided, including the Cavaliers’ 69-26 romp in Spencer in December.

NR senior Oshon West is the frontrunner for county player of the year honors, mixing intense leadership and improved defense with an inside-outside offensive game that has enabled him to average a county-best 17.0 points per game. That’s a lot of points on a team with as many scorers as North, and keep in mind that he’s sat out the fourth quarter of a lot of blowouts.

West has scored 255 points this season. He had 261 as a junior and 316 as a varsity freshman, giving him a total of 832 in a North uniform. He also scored well over 200 points for North Hills as a sophomore, which easily makes him a 1,000-point career scorer, but he also has a great chance to reach 1,000 in the green and gold of the Cavaliers. That’s something that no male has accomplished at the school since Bryan McCullough in 2001.

Eight males have scored 1,000 at North. West currently ranks 13th on the Cavaliers’ all-time list. West passed David Chapman, who played back in the 1960s, in his last outing and is only six points behind Dre Byrd.

Salisbury’s rebuilding boys have started slow and finished fast very frequently, so no one is counting them out, but it’s been a tough season to this point.

Salisbury rallied from 4-7 last season to finish 14-14 and tied for second in the Central Carolina Conference.

This time the hole is deeper. The Hornets are 4-10 and are 0-2 in the CCC. Not only are they 0-2 — one of the losses was to West Davidson. Salisbury had beaten West Davidson 22 straight times and hadn’t lost to the Green Dragons since dropping a 53-52 decision to them in 1986.

The Hornets have a great streak going of nine straight seasons of finishing either first or second in the CCC, but it’ll be a challenge for coach Jason Causby to extend that run with a very young team.

Salisbury is at Lexington tonight.

While the general feeling is that boys basketball is down in the county except for North — Carson wouldn’t agree.

Coach Brian Perry’s Cougars, who are in their seventh season, have a great chance to turn in the second winning record in school history.

Not only has Carson (9-7, 3-1 North Piedmont Conference) won seven of its last nine outings, the two only losses in that stretch came to Davie and Statesville, a pair of powerhouse teams that are highly ranked in the state. And don’t forget that Carson’s road loss to Stateville was in overtime.

Carson has the county’s No. 2 and No. 3 scorers in Colton Laws and Tre Williams, plus a lot of muscle and two athletes — D.J. Love and Marquez McCain — who can score in game-changing flurries.

Carson appears to be the chief challenger in the NPC to the Greyhounds. Carson’s highest NPC finish came in 2010 when it went 21-6 behind Darius Moose, Nick Houston and Cody Clanton. That 2010 team put up the best offensive (65.4 points per game) and defensive (54.7 ppg) numbers in school history.

Carson usually has been good defensively this season. The Cougars have held seven opponents to 50 or fewer points, and they are 7-0 in those games.

Carson will try to stay on Statesville’s heels tonight when it plays host to North Iredell.

West Rowan
West is a team to watch, and not just because of that incredible tradition (18 20-win seasons since 1986) and coach Mike Gurley.

West entered this season with a lot of questions about its ability to put the ball in the hole, but they’ve been answered. Seth Martin, Celexus Long and Najee Tucker all have 20-point games under their belts, and Daisean Reddick and Devin Parks have turned in 19-point outings. That’s plenty of firepower.

West was giving up way too many points early because it was fouling too often and giving up too many second-chance points, but those issues are getting fixed.

The Falcons have held their last two opponents in the 50s and won both games.

West (4-10, 2-1 NPC) has a streak of eight straight winning seasons. The Falcons obviously have an uphill climb to continue that nice run, but their chances look infinitely better than they did a month ago and a playoff berth is an attainable goal.

West Rowan will have to shake off even more rust than everyone else tonight when it hosts West Iredell. Because of a fire, a scheduled exams break and an unscheduled weather break, the Falcons haven’t been on the court since Jan. 8.

West will make up its postponed home game with North Iredell on Wednesday, so it will play back-to-back.

South Rowan
In his postgame interviews, first-year South Rowan coach Bryan Withers already has used the term “roller-coaster” a record-setting number of times this season.

South has put together a pair of three-game winning streaks on its way to a solid start (9-7, 3-1 NPC), but no team in the county has been less predictable as far as its level of play.

South followed a blowout win against West Iredell with a dismal loss to Central Davidson and followed up a strong NPC win against North Iredell with a no-show loss against rival Carson. Definitely a roller-coaster in terms of intensity.

South is in very good shape in the league at 3-1 and has a great chance to have the most successful season the program has enjoyed in many years. South hasn’t reached 15 wins since 1995-96, and that’s definitely within reach.

The future is even brighter than the present. South is young. The top two scorers are junior Shawn Spry (12.9) and sophomore Qwan Rhyne (11.6).

South has a tough assignment tonight when it hosts Statesville. The Raiders have lost eight straight to the Greyhounds, including four games last year when South fell to the Hounds in both the semifinals of the NPC tournament and the first round of the 3A playoffs.

The last time South beat Statesville was one of the more remarkable games in school history. Hunter Morrison, Reid Shaver and Steven Johnson combined for 72 points in a 107-105 overtime victory in 2009.

East Rowan
Coach Trey Ledbetter’s East squad is the odd-team out tonight in the seven-school NPC, so it will remain idle.

The Mustangs (4-11, 1-4 NPC) return to action on Friday at home against Carson, and that’s virtually a must-win if they’re going to turn things around this season.

East obviously isn’t scoring much, topping 60 points only twice, but East only scored 47.2 points a game last season when a patient, experienced herd of Mustangs went 13-12.

So far, East just hasn’t won the close games that it was able to win last season, and the 51-50 home loss to West Rowan was really damaging as far as East’s chances of getting a playoff berth.

East has gotten some big offensive games from junior Donte Means, but it needs another double-figure scorer to emerge. Sophomore Connor Honeycutt is the most likely guy.

A.L. Brown and Davie
The Wonders (10-4) have had a couple of disappointing losses, but they’re back at full strength now with Derrick Copeland (ankle), Tevin Stark (concussion) and Keeon Johnson (Shrine Bowl)returning to the lineup.They start five seniors, have won five straight and are 5-0 in the South Piedmont Conference. The two SPC teams they haven’t played yet are Concord, the top-ranked 3A team, and dangerous Northwest Cabarrus.

Brown plays Concord Wednesday in a huge matchup. The Northwest Cabarrus game was rescheduled for Feb. 4.

Davie has had to wait a while to bounce back from a CPC loss to Mount Tabor. The War Eagles (12-2, 1-1 CPC) have another tough assignment tonight when they travel to Pfafftown to take on Reagan. There aren’t many gimmes in the CPC.