Stepping Up – My Take: Mid-season high school basketball reportPublished 8:19pm Tuesday, January 7, 2014
The midpoint of the high school basketball season is here and conference play is under way.
This time of year perennially offers a new start to teams that struggled to find their identities through the first dozen games. On paper, they may have a losing record, but conference play gives them a clean slate and a second chance at the state tournament.
For those teams with realistic postseason aspirations, remaining consistent over the next month and a half is crucial for playoff seeding and maintaining momentum. Here is a breakdown of where the area’s five basketball schools stand at this point in the season.
Washington High School
Head Coach Steven Flowers and his squad enter 2A Conference 14 play with a 2-3 record on the season. While the Pam Pack have considerable talent on offense, led by senior standout Stevie Green, the team is letting up an average of 58 points per game, something that needs to improve down the stretch to have any chance at giving catching teams like Southwest Edgecombe, North Pitt and Farmville Central in the standings. Green leads the conference in scoring, averaging an impressive 21.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The talent is there. If Flowers can institute a stronger defensive identity, this team should have no problem making a run in conference play.
Defensive consistency is also a problem plaguing Allison Jones and Washington women’s basketball as well. Sitting at a 3-4 record, the Pam Pack have matched up against some quality opponents thus far, including 9-5 Conley and undefeated Riverside. Their three wins come against two teams with a combined 3-19 record, so the Pam Pack have a lot to prove over the next month. Sheema Blount leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Northside High School
The Panthers are off to an oddly similar start to their previous 2012-2013 campaign. Head Coach Michael Proctor has his squad at an impressive 9-1 on the season with big wins against Washington and rival Southside. Northside is led by one of the most talented and special players this part of North Carolina has seen in years, sophomore forward Edrice Adebayo. Adebayo is averaging well over a double-double with 21 points and 17.7 rebounds per game. The team is also getting significant offensive and defensive production from senior forward Antonio Woods. After a heartbreaking loss last Friday to East Carteret, 83-61, the Panthers need to stay hot until they get a second shot at the Mariners on their home court at the end of the month.
For the women, offensive consistency has been the difference in their record thus far. Head Coach Michelle Leathers’ team is averaging about 48 points per game, led by standout junior Alex Adams. Overall, the 1A Coastal Plains Conference is looking very winnable for the Panthers, who face-off against a tough out of conference opponent in First Flight on Thursday.
Southside High School
Sitting at just 5-7 on the season, the Seahawks seem to finally be functioning as a collective unit, winning the last three of four games. Head Coach Sean White has instituted a refurbished press defense that left Bear Grass unable to retain any kind of substantial possession last Friday. The Seahawks are led by their senior leader, point guard Aaron Brooks, who finished with 10 points and a handful of assists against the Bears. This is truly one of the more underrated teams in the conference. Look for the Seahawks to make a run in conference play.
The women, commanded by Head Coach Bill Lake, started their season 1-7, but have managed to secure victories in their last two games. The Seahawks have a tandem of forwards, Kyajia Mourning and Takeyra Harris, who have provided Lake with an impenetrable presence down low. Harris is gaining confidence offensively off the bench and could be a key factor in this team’s success moving forward.
Pungo Christian Academy
First-year Head Coach Jason Adams has his Raiders off to one of the best starts in school history. Sitting at an impressive 12-1 record and first place in the NCISAA Tarheel Conference, Pungo Christian is beating teams…and beating teams big. Their only loss, coming at the hands of Ridgecroft, was avenged in the Lt. Nick Brantley Tournament Championship with a highly contested 39-38 win. Expect a battle between Terra Ceia Christian, Ridgecroft and Pungo Christian for the conference title.
Terra Ceia Christian School
Like their conference partner Pungo Christian, the Knights are fighting for a shot at a conference title. Head Coach Roger Claasen’s team sits at an 8-5 record with 3-1 conference mark. Having yet to win a game against a school with a winning record, this team has a lot to prove over the next few weeks. The Knights will look to sophomore Chase Furlough and senior leader Kyle Hendrix for a little offensive push on the road, where the team has amassed a 2-4 record.
David Cucchiara is the sports editor at The Washington Daily News and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.