By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Friday, November 16, 2012 —
The basketball teams of North Stanly and West Stanly will open competition this month in non-conference play before opening play in a tough Rocky River Conference that includes one state finalist (Cuthbertson) as well as perennial contenders Monroe and Forest Hills.
For North Stanly, the Comets will play their final season in the Rocky River Conference for at least the next four years as North will become a 1A school next season and join fellow Stanly schools Albemarle, South Stanly and Gray Stone in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
West Stanly will stay in the RRC next season, along with Forest Hills, Monroe and Central Academy. Joining the conference next year will be Parkwood and Mount Pleasant.
Head coach Greg Speight has a tough task in front of him after graduating six seniors from last season’s 27-2 team that won the RRC regular-season title for the seventh time in 10 seasons. Speight’s record in those 10 seasons is 246-38 for a winning percentage of 86.6 percent.
Gone from this year’s team are RRC and co-SNAP Player of the Year Holli Chandler (15.9 ppg), All-RRC and All-SNAP selections Lindsey Burleson (12.5 ppg) and Asia Caple (7.9 ppg), along with Brittany Burleson, Becca Noll and Elizabeth Deeck.
Returning this season are guards Gentry Grubb (All-RRC honorable mention), Jenna Huff and Jenni Speight, who Speight said should “provide a lot of points and handle the ball most of the time.”
Newcomers to the team include forward Alexis Poolos, who brings her tall stature up from the JV squad last season. She “will have a much bigger role this year,” according to Speight.
Also up from the JV squad this season will be Dana Beadle, who is a solid defender and rebounder.
Regarding his outlook for the season, Speight said, “Anytime a team graduates more than five players who played a lot, the following season will be filled with a lot of questions. We have 11 players on the team who are great kids with good work ethics. I expect us to improve throughout season and surprise our opponents.”
Five players return for the Colts this season for head coach Wesley Kidd, whose West Stanly squad went 5-20 overall last season and posted a 4-10 record in the RRC.
Seniors Devan Fincher and Emily Morgan return this year for West, along with returners Sarah Talley, Allie Furr and Kayla Chapman.
“We are young and not very experienced,” Kidd said.
“We will always play hard, but we will have to find a way to score.”
The Comets have a very young team this season for head coach Chris Misenheimer but the potential for a season better than last year’s 2-22 overall record and 2-12 in the RRC is in place.
Seniors T’Zaddi Sylvester and Trevor Davis return this season for the Comets, along with 6’4” talented sophomore center T.J. Smith.
Juniors Kasey Caulder and Dylan Blalock both came up to the varsity squad for a few games last season and look to fill important roles on the varsity this year full-time.
Three seniors that are new to the North squad this year include Eli Green, M.J. Owens and Tyler Burris, who all move up to the varsity squad full-time this season and will help the team, according to Misenheimer.
A trio of freshman will play varsity as well this season, including Luke Gibson, D’Angelo Reid and Stephen Misenheimer.
“We should be much improved from last year. Our guys are focusing on being much better at defense and rebounding. We are very young and eager to improve,” Misenheimer said.
The Colts look to improve from last year’s 6-16 record and 2-12 in the RRC under head coach John Thompson, Jr. (20-28 overall record). He started four sophomores last year and the team “took our lumps,” according to Thompson, who added, “We had a good summer, the kids worked hard and hopefully this will translate into more wins. We have a great group of young men to work with; I’m excited about the season.”
One of the main focal points for the team will be junior forward B.J. Hill who averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds last season and was named to the All-RRC team.
“I expect BJ to be one of the top post players in the conference,” Thompson said.
Also returning is the team’s leader in assists last season in Ryan McCormick, who “had a great off-season and should be much improved in his decision-making and shooting,” Thompson said.
West Stanly will have players returning this season that bring help and leadership on the defensive side, including Trey Barbee and Charlie Eudy. Barbee is “our best defensive player” while Eudy “brings toughness and tenacity on the boards.”
Hunter Martin and Baron Whitley also return to the team and should be much improved, according to Thompson.
Newcomers include Colton Hathcock, who moves up to the varsity squad this season after a solid year with the Colt JVs. Hathcock will give West depth in the post and he is “a very hard-nosed player.”
Two talented freshman that will push the starters for playing time will be Cooper Burgess and Taylan Rowe.