• 73°

A.L. Brown girls: Wonders banking on experience

KANNAPOLIS —  A.L. Brown coach Mike Wolford won’t forget the Wonders’ first experiences in the Mecka conference anytime soon.

“We’re playing at North Meck in December, and we’re down like 18-6 after five minutes,” Wolford said. “I called a timeout, and the girls came off the court huffing and puffing. I remember saying, ‘They’re big, aren’t they? They’re fast, aren’t they? They can jump, can’t they? ‘”

The Wonders had to answer affirmatively to all those questions. It was a tough transition year for the program. Brown beat Vance twice, but those were the only Mecka games it won.

But there were some other close calls. By the end of the season, the Wonders adjusted to the pace and to the intensity level they need to play at to compete.

They expect to do much better this year — and it might be more than wishful thinking.

“It’s a tough, physical league, but we believe we can be top three,” A.L. Brown senior Aitana Grant said.

Wolford isn’t making any predictions, but he clearly likes his team.

“We’re fast, we’re athletic, and we’ve got a lot of experience,” Wolford said.

The Wonders are deep. Wolford has eight veterans that he’d be comfortable starting.

Grant, Sascha McCoy and Kyla Downs are tough, fast guards with scoring ability. Point guard Shemya Stanback is just 5-foot-1 but is quick and hard to press.  Esther Kituku and Mariah Howard are hard-nosed 5-8 girls who battle on the boards. Talethia Alexander is a streaky shooter who will win some games for the Wonders with her 3-pointers. Kelly Chrismon, a sophomore who plays softball and volleyball, is 5-10 and athletic.

“We’re not tall,” Wolford said. “We do have long arms and we can can jump, but in our league, rebounding could be an issue.”

Junior Cresha Irving is the most likely to help off last season’s jayvee team.

“Our conference had some seniors, and I’m hoping teams will be down some,” Wolford said. “And I expect us to be up some.”

A.L. Brown beat East Rowan last season and split with South Rowan. Those were the top teams in the 3A South Piedmont Conference.


Aitana Grant, senior, guard

Grant is a special athlete and is maturing as a player and improving as a shooter. She was All-Mecka in 2013-14.

“She had four straight games of 20-plus points last season,” Wolford said. “She had a lot of foul trouble early in her career, but she’s playing a lot smarter now”

Kyla Downs, junior, guard

Downs has a great-looking jumper and makes hanging moves to the hoop not many girls can make.

Sascha McCoy, senior, forward

McCoy is an aggressive player and will be used at every position except point guard.

Mariah Howard, junior, forward

Her long arms make her play taller. She fights for boards, and she’ll get to the foul line a lot.


Returning players: 8

2013-14 record: 6-17, 2-12 Mecka

2013-14 conf. finish: 7th



RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest


Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction


Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured


Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12


Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September


Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers


Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners


Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs


Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers


Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class


Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow


States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes


Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack


NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line


Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting


People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%


Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots


Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending


Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City


Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow


Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh


California population declines for first time