One of the oldest and biggest problems with Mecklenburg County high school basketball is that too many games start late. Ive said this before.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools play quadruple-headers on basketball nights. Junior varsity girls and boys go first, followed by the varsity teams. Over the years, school officials have tried to speed up jayvee games with a running clock or eliminating overtimes and other rules. They didnt work well.
This year, CMS moved up the start of the first game, the girls junior varsity, to 3:30, 30 minutes earlier. Thats helped in some cases, but Im still hearing reports of games starting and ending too late.
On Friday night, this is not a big issue, but on a weeknight, when kids have to be at school the next morning, these late games are, to me, a big problem. The visiting team often has to take the bus back to school and then go home.
Another issue is that fans often have to try to arrive to gyms very early to get a seat at sold-out venues.
The solution is simple and has been adopted by some other counties in the state: move the boys and girls to alternate sites. Parents wont have to try to leave work early to make a 3:30 or 4:30 game and fans wouldnt have to arrive super early to try to save a seat for the game they want to see.
Under this scenario, at both sites, the first game would start at 6. The second, even with overtimes, should get off by 8. Everyone gets home early.
East Mecks Grube, Monroes Sowell hit milestones
Two area coaches hit big milestones Friday night.
In Union County, Monroes legendary football and basketball coach, Johnny Sowell, won his 400th basketball game.
In Charlotte, East Mecklenburgs Jason Grube, who is building towards a legendary career of his own, won his 200th game, one day shy of another big milestone.
Grube turned 40 Saturday.
Sowell started coaching Monroes boys team in 1990 and took 563 games to hit 400. The Redhawks beat Union Academy 64-26 at home Friday to give Sowell an impressive career record of 400-163.
Sowell won a state title in 1980 as a player at Monroe. In 2010, he won one as a coach.
In 14 years as a coach, Grube now has a career record of 200-145. Despite losing five players to transfers, three to academics and five to graduation, Grube, who led East Meck to the 2008 N.C. 4A championship, has the Eagles (7-8, 2-3 Southwestern 4A) in contention for a league championship.
East is just a few games behind league leading Independence (4-1 in conference) and four teams tied for second at 3-2 Butler, South Meck, Myers Park and Rocky River.
• The Southwestern 4A boys race looks like it will be crazy. Five teams are within one game of each other. For the next couple of weeks at least, the Southwestern 4A will have a mega matchup on most every playing night. And it seems like all the games are close.
• The I-Meck 4A race should be fun, too.
West Charlotte (6-0) leads three teams tied for second Mallard Creek, Hough and Vance by one game in the loss column.
The Lions will be favored to win the league title, but many tough tests await, including two games with Vance, which has the kind of athletic guard play that might cause the bigger Lions some problems.
• In the ME-GA 7, Olympic (4-0) and Berry (3-1) are starting to separate, but Harding (2-2) proved it can beat anyone when it nearly upset nationally ranked and Sweet 16 No. 1 Olympic at home Friday, losing on a buzzer-beater in overtime.
Harding, a 3A team, is 7-6 but could be a real factor in the 3A playoffs.
• Local girls championship races look pretty good, too.
In the Southwestern 4A, Ardrey Kell (5-1) and Myers Park (6-0) are in a two-team race. Myers Park won the first game, but the Mustangs play at Ardrey Kell Feb. 1, probably for the league title.
In the I-Meck, North Meck (5-0) has a one-game lead on Mallard Creek and Hough. In the ME-GA 7, old rivals Berry and Harding are both unbeaten and will play each other twice in the stretch run.
Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less