Bandys girls: Traditional power should be Southern District 7 Athletic2A preseason favorite, and a regional threat again.
East Lincoln boys: Three starters back from a 21-8 team, including 5-foot-10 guard Dominque Smith (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and 6-8 senior Charlie Hills (10.5 ppg)
East Rutherford girls: The Cavaliers return four starters from a 21-7 team that lost in the second round of the playoffs to 2A state finalist Canton Pigsah. Those four include Rachel Camp, who led North Carolina last season by averaging 31 ppg. East Rutherford also has added McDowell transfer Tamara Blanton, a 5-6 junior guard, who will strengthen an already-tough team.
East Rutherford boys: Should battle Shelby for the South Mountain Athletic 2A/3Achampionship. East Rutherford lost to Shelby in the second round of the playoffs last season.
Hunter Huss boys: The Huskies return three starters from last season’s 25-4 team, including 6-4 forward Chadrickus Mackins, and five of their top seven players.
Lake Norman Charter girls: Joining the strong Big South 2A/3A, the team return four stars, including senior guard Sierra Wiley and sophomore center Sarah Novroski.
Monroe boys: Always a regional threat under legendary coach Johnny Sowell, the Redhawks are the preseason favorites from the Rocky River 2A.
Monroe girls: Preseason favorite in the Rocky River 2A, Monroe was 19-9 last season and made the third round of the playoffs.
R-S Central girls: Two starters are back from a 17-11 team, and 5-9 senior guard Tia Bristol (12.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and 5-10 sophomore post Te’ja Twity (14.1 ppg, 11.5 rpg) were both strong offensive players.
Shelby boys: Not as big as last season but very talented. Shelby has reached back-to-back N.C. 2A Western Regional championship games.
Boys’ Players To Watch
Gabe DeVoe, Shelby, 6-3, Sr., G: Clemson commitment is reigning Observer All-Region Player of the Year. He averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists last season.
Mekhi Dula, West Caldwell, 6-4, Jr., F: Averaged 12 ppg, 6 rpg last season and returns with 6-3 junior Ashton Smith, who made 74 percent of his 2-point field-goal attempts last season.
Jarrod Evans, Mount Pleasant, 6-8, Sr., C: Transferred in the middle of the 2012-13 season; averaged 10 points and eight rebounds.
Kerrion Moore, Hunter Huss, 5-9, Sr., G: One of Gastonia’s top football players at running back, Moore is a talented scoring point guard in basketball.
Chazz Surratt, East Lincoln, 6-3, So., G: One of the area’s top football players, Surratt – who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 – will lead a conference favorite basketball team as well. Surratt averaged 19 points, five assists and five rebounds last season.
Girls’ Players To Watch
Tia Bristol, R-S Central, 5-9, Sr., G: All-conference star averaged 13 points and 7.2 rebounds last season.
Alex Busch, Lake Norman Charter, 5-10, Sr., G/F: All-conference star averaed 15.6 ppg, 6 rpg and 2.3 apg. She has 956 career points.
Rachel Camp, East Rutherford, 5-11, Sr., G: Signed Wednesday with Virginia Tech. Last season, Camp averaged 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Lexus Corpening, West Caldwell, 5-10, Sr, F: Averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds and three steals last season. One of three starters back from a 7-13 team.
Ezinne Mbamalu, Lake Norman Charter, 6-3, Sr., C: Returning All-Mecklenburg star averaged 13 ppg, 12 rpg and has committed to Winthrop.
• Lake Norman Charter moves up to 2A and into the Big South 2A/3A. Boys’ coach Aaron Reeves said it’s a big step up. He’ll lean on five returning starters, including 6-2 junior Malik McCormick (14 ppg, 6 rpg) to help with the transition.
• Chase’s girls were 3-20 last season, but coach Todd Davis is hoping for big improvement. His team returns two starters – 5-5 guard Takirah McKinney and 5-6 forward Haley Wood – but brings in two promising freshmen: 5-10 Kyra Davis, who averaged 19 ppg, 10 rpg in middle school; and 5-8 guard Kealynn Watkins (10 ppg, 10 rpg).
• East Lincoln will be young on the boys’ side with only three seniors and three juniors but adds promising freshman Sage Surratt, a 5-10 guard. His brother, Chazz, is a two-sport star.
• Lake Norman Charter’s girls played Big South heavyweights Ashbrook and Forestview last season, winning both games. That has coach Bobby Williams thinking his team has a shot to compete in its new league.
NOTE: Information displayed is based on preseason forms returned by Observer-area coaches.
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