Prep basketball: Pairings announced
By Mike London
SALISBURY — North Rowan’s boys had just taken their 10th loss of the basketball regular season — 54-50 to Salisbury at Catawba’s Goodman Gym — when coach Andrew Mitchell brought up the N.C. State Cardiac Pack of 1983.
Mitchell was a junior at North Rowan that memorable hoops season when the Wolfpack went on arguably the most unexpected and amazing run of all time. Losers of 10 games during the regular season, they won the ACC tournament, and then won a string of March Madness games, culminating with an improbable national-championship victory against a Houston team that included future NBA superstars Clyde Drexler and Akeem (later Hakeem) Olajuwon.
Mitchell hasn’t forgotten the Cardiac Pack, and he’s reminded his team that the postseason is a new season.
“We’re a lot better team than our record, a better team than people think,” Mitchell said. “The schedule we’ve played has been very difficult.”
North (14-11) has taken on the 4As and the 3As.
North is a small 2A — the school will return to 1A this fall — but the Cavaliers are frequently a factor this time of year. Even after loss No. 11 occurred on Friday — 74-71 to a very strong Thomasville team in the CCC tournament final — there’s still a belief that the Cavaliers, led by seniors Joe Scott and Henderson Lentz, two of the county’s top five players, have some Cardiac Pack in them.
We’ll find out soon enough. The long-awaited playoff pairings were released by the NCHSAA on Sunday.
The four Rowan boys teams that qualified for the playoffs — North Rowan, Salisbury, Carson and West Rowan — all will be on the road for Tuesday’s first round.
There was some hope West might get a home game, but the Falcons narrowly missed.
Second-round games will be played on Thursday, with the third round set for Saturday.
Regional semifinals (fourth round) will be played on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Those four rounds will be played on the home floor of the team with the better seed.
Teams actually are given two seeds, a sub-regional seed and a regional seed. The regional seed will matter if two teams meet that have an equal sub-regional seed.
West teams are matched up with Midwest teams in the first round, an attempt to avoid any teams taking on conference opponents right away.
Regional championships will be contested on March at at neutral sites. In the West, those games will be played at Winston-Salem’s Joel Coliseum or UNC Greensboro.
State championships will be decided in the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill on March 11.
Tuesday’s boys games
No. 15 West Andrews at No. 2 Midwest North Stanly
No. 13 Midwest North Rowan at No. 4 West Lake Norman Charter
No. 10 Midwest Salisbury at No. 7 West North Wilkes, 7:30 p.m. (after a girls playoff game)
No. 16 West West Lincoln at No. 1 Midwest Thomasville
No. 15 Midwest Lexington at No. 2 West Lincolnton
No. 9 Midwest West Rowan at No. 8 West Tuscola
No. 12 Midwest Carson at No. 5 West Belmont South Point
No. 16 Midwest Concord at No. 1 West Freedom
No. 11 Midwest East Gaston at No. 6 Midwest Robinson
No. 16 West Ashbrook at No. 1 Midwest Cox Mill
No. 12 West Patton at No. 5 Midwest Hickory Ridge
No. 13 Midwest Central Cabarrus at No. 4 West Kings Mountain
As far as the girls teams, Salisbury (20-2) has the best chance to play for a while. The Hornets, with a No. 1 seed for the Midwest sub-regional and a No. 2 seed for the Western Regional (behind Smoky Mountain) will get four straight home games if they can keep winning.
Carson also earned a first-round home game. South Rowan and West Rowan are in the playoffs, as expected, but they’ll be on the road in Tuesday’s first round.
Salisbury has announced a 7 p.m. starting time, while Carson announced a 6 p.m. start.
16 West Cherryville at 1 Midwest Gray Stone
10 Midwest North Stanly at 7 West Lincoln Charter
12 Midwest West Davidson at 5 West Maiden
16 West Gastonia Hunter Huss at 1 Midwest Salisbury, 7 p.m.
10 West Newton-Conover at 7 Midwest East Davidson
10 Midwest Waynesville Tuscola at 7 Midwest Carson, 6 p.m.
13 Midwest South Rowan at 4 West Canton Pisgah
15 Midwest West Rowan at 2 West Ashbrook
16 Midwest Cox Mill at 1 West Freedom
14 Midwest Robinson at 3 West Asheville Erwin
11 West East Henderson at 6 Midwest Central Cabarrus
16 West Burns at 1 Midwest Hickory Ridge