High school basketball: South girls looking to be better

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

This is the first in a series of high school basketball previews.

By Mike London

LANDIS — South Rowan’s girls struggled to score last season, and even with basketball games becoming increasingly fast-paced and frantic, the Raiders posted just 31.4 points per game, the program’s  lowest scoring average since the 1970-71 season.

On the positive side, South’s defense quietly was getting tougher, trimming the average scoring by opponents from 56 per night down to 51.

Don’t be shocked if the Raiders have their best season in a while.

While they’re moving up from 2A to 3A, they could average 50 per game this season. They’ll have a lot more firepower and they should make fewer turnovers.

“Right off the bat, we’re way ahead of where we were last season,” head coach Alex Allen said. “We’ve got coachable girls, and they’re working well together. We’re getting better.”

Reasons for optimism in the South camp start with a return to basketball by Bethany Rymer. Rymer was the county’s No. 3 scorer as a sophomore with 13.9 points per game and scored 588 points in two varsity seasons.

She didn’t play as a junior, focusing on cross country, but she’s back on the hardwood as a senior. She gives coach Alex Allen another scorer and another ballhandler. It will be harder for teams to press South with Rymer in the lineup.

“The game is very natural for her,” Allen said. “She just joined us after cross country, but she’ll make a difference.”

Rymer will be the only senior on the roster.

The returning players are led by junior Mackenzie Chabala. She led South in scoring (8.1 per game) and rebounding (7.0) last season.

“She’s not very big for a post player, but she goes hard,” Allen said. “Always vocal, always a leader and always someone we can lean on. There will be nights when she carries us.”

Madilyn Cherry is a junior combo guard who was streaky last season. She got hot and scored in double figures several times, including the two that the Raiders won.

“Very good shooter and a good ballhandler and she’s got two varsity seasons under her belt now,” Allen said. “I won’t be surprised if she has some 20-point games.”

Guard Eden Childers and forward Abby Bruce also are in the junior class. Both played a lot last season.

Also back are sophomores Blythe Elliot, Kayla Brown and Laurel Everett. All three gained valuable experience as varsity freshman. Elliot’s strong suit is defense. Everett, a tall volleyball player, gives the team some much-needed height. Brown is another offensive option.

Bryleigh Beaver and Thyhila Burris are juniors who are new to the varsity.

South  freshmen  Hannah Atwell and Kynlee Dextraze will start the season with the varsity. They were part of the championship team at Corriher-Lipe Middle School.

“They’re not typical freshmen, they’ve fit right in, and they should play a lot of minutes,” Allen said.

South will have a jayvee team, something that just about disappeared from the county last season. Some sophomores that were rushed into varsity action last season will have a year to develop on the jayvees. Tyler Rea, who coached the Corriher-Lipe girls, is coaching South’s jayvees.

South had a pretty normal preseason, including attending Catawba’s summer team camp.



Coach: Alex Allen (3rd season, 6-33)

2020-21: 2-12 overall, 1-8 2A Central Carolina Conference (9th)

Playoffs: Did not make playoffs.

Final MaxPreps ranking for 2020-21:  No. 416 in N.C. out of 550

New league: 3A South Piedmont Conference (West, East, Carson, Lake Norman Charter, Concord, Central Cabarrus, NW Cabarrus)

Top returners: Juniors Mackenzie Chabala and Madilyn Cherry

Key addition: Senior Bethany Rymer

Key losses: Carlie Moore, Paige Chabala