It usually takes about a month before you start to get a feel for not only the strengths and weaknesses of the county boy’s basketball teams, but also to get the lay of the land as far as the muscle of the teams in the Mid-State Conferences as well.
For most, the start to the 2019-2020 season has been a success. Let’s take a look at where the four county teams are, now that league play has begun.
It’s been a whirlwind start for the Rams who were thrown into the fire in their first game of the season versus Rockingham on Dec. 23.
Due to Reidsville’s football team’s championship, which concluded on Dec. 14, the Rams had just one week of practice at full strength since more than half a dozen basketball players were also members of the football squad.
Since then, RHS has played nine games and is 7-2 with their only losses coming to Harding University on Dec. 26 and Smith on Jan. 4. That type of busy schedule will continue for the rest of January since they have to make up games missed during the month of November and December due to the football situation.
The Rams are a very balanced team although a bit undersized in the post, but they play bigger than they are listed on the roster.
Where Reidsville is particularly strong is at the guard position with three-year varsity starter Breon Pass setting the tone. Pass, who averages 18.4 points per game, is a blue-chip player that can do it all. He’s a great shooter with deep range that can also attack the rim. Joining him is Burlington Cummings transfer Auldon Edwards, who is averaging 19.9 points per game. He and Pass have similar skill sets and the pair together makes for a terrible-twosome for the opposition on both sides of the floor.
In addition, the Rams are deep, and they have any one of seven players on the roster capable of putting up double digits on any given night.
Reidsville’s offense was on full display in last Friday’s 102-94 win on the road at Carrboro. But head coach Jason Ross says the Rams bread and butter is always going to start on defense. RHS have speed and athleticism across the board and Ross believes if his team continues on their current trajectory, the Rams have a chance to bring home some hardware at the end of the season.
Reidsville, who is 2-0 in league play, will host Mid-State 2A Conference foe Graham (0-5, 1-12) Friday night.
Another team that has been turning some head’s this season is Morehead. The Panthers started hotter than any other team in the county beginning the season at 11-0. But Morehead had a rough one last week. First they lost to county rival Reidsville on Jan. 8, then lost on the road at Mid-State Conference foe Eastern Alamance last Friday.
MHS head coach Damien Price said his team has got to play together as a unit in order to be successful.
“It was pretty much a tale of two halves (versus Reidsville). In the first half, we pretty much played as a collective group, and in the second half it was more individual. I don’t think it was a situation where the guys were being selfish — a few of my guys want to take it upon themselves to carry the load — which I love the attitude, but when you play better teams, you have to play as a team a little more than what we did,” Price said.
Like Reidsville, the Panthers have speed, athleticism and depth — and MHS fans are hoping last week’s loses are just a bump in the road.
Morehead has three players averaging double figures and also have a bench, and the talent on it, to where any number of players can have a big night.
Javen Chandler currently leads the team in scoring with 17.6 per game, Shy Lampkin is right behind him with 13.7 and Blake Byrd is tallying 12.9 per contest.
Mid-State 2A / 3A play will be critical this season in a league loaded with contenders from top to bottom.
Currently tied for first place with Northern Guilford, both 4-1, Morehead will travel for a big game with league supremacy on the line this Friday.
Nighthawks head coach Kellen Parrish said he knows this week’s game versus the Panthers is a big one, but he was quick to point out that every Mid-State game is one you can’t look past.
“Every game is important. Every win is important. We must take care of our business and the next game is against Morehead and we’ve got to take care of business in that game as well. All we can do is just play our best . . . I watched some film and they are very athletic. They’ve got some good shooters, but we are going to have to play our game — play tough defense and box out and try to limit them to just one shot,” Parrish said.
The Phoenix are another one of those teams you can’t look past. Currently 3-2 in league play, McMichael is tied for third place with Western Alamance, and although it appears they are talented enough to make the playoffs, they’ve would most certainly like to add a few more bullet points to the resume as the season marches on.
Led by senior guard Gabe Caple, who is averaging 18.3 points per game, he’s got several players around him that can shoot and penetrate. Big man Jackson Kirkpatrick, who is averaging 10.8 points, is a force on the boards and as a defender in the low post. Stefan McLaughlin has also shown big game scoring potential. He’s currently averaging 10.4 and the Phoenix bench is fairly deep as well.
McMichael will be back in action with a home game versus Northeast Guilford this Friday.
For the Cougars, it’s been a rough start for a young team that basically had to rebuild after losing their three top scores from last season’s team. Just like for everyone else, it won’t get any easier from here on out with Mid-State 3A Conference play on the schedule the rest of the way.
Rockingham is most certainly a better team than their 2-12 overall record indicates. The Cougars swept Caldwell Academy in an out of conference series, lost one game in overtime and also had several other games come down to the wire, but sometimes with young teams, that’s part of the challenge — learning how to finish.
The Cougars will try to right the ship this Friday with a road trip to Person.