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Wertz Jr: Mecklenburg basketball teams will make strong postseason runs

By Langston Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr. writes about high schoool sports for The Charlotte Observer and

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  • Players of the Week

    Nehemiah Mabson, United Faith: 40 points and 19 rebounds in Tuesday’s win at Gaston Day that set up Friday’s Southern Piedmont conference championship game with Victory Christian. Mabson, an unsigned 6-foot-6 senior, had 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in Friday’s 76-62 conference championship win over the Kings.

    John Emezie, Marvin RIdge: 21 points, eight rebounds, two steals in Friday’s 66-55 win over Cuthbertson. Emezie, an unsigned senior, had 39 in a 102-93 win over Anson Senior Thursday.

    Mahaley Holit, Central Cabarrus: 34 points, six assists and four steals in a 68-58 win over Cox Mill.

    Ezinne Mbamalu, Lake Norman Charter: 14 points and career-high 26 rebounds in a 59-42 win over South Point.

    Brandon Roddy, Monroe: 34 points, two steals and two assists in a win over Parkwood Friday. He had 26 points and five assists against Mount Pleasant and 29 points and two steals against Forest Hills earlier in the week.

    Connor Burchfield, Concord: 26 points against Central Cabarrus this week and set the school record for career points. Burchfield broke Kenyon Weaks’ previous record of 1,752.

    Deion Lane, Independence: 23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two blocks in 79-60 win over Porter Ridge Thursday.

    Games of the week

    SPAA, MAC conference tournaments: Boys’ and girls’ tournaments begin Tuesday and finish Friday. The SPAA finals are Friday at United Faith. The MAC finals are Friday at Covenant Day School.

    Hough at North Mecklenburg, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.: The Huskies (17-4, 11-1) lead West Charlotte by one game. After losing to the Lions Friday, Hough cannot afford another league loss. North Meck (17-3, 8-3) is hunting an upset.

    Charlotte Catholic at Ardrey Kell girls, Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Catholic (14-6, 9-1 SoMeck 8) trails league leader Ardrey Kell (16-4, 10-0) by one game with two conference games left. This is the de-facto league championship game.

    Olympic at Berry, Friday, 7:30 p.m.: This game could be for the league championship. Heading into Tuesday’s games, Berry (19-3, 11-1) leads Olympic (20-2) and Ardrey Kell (17-5, 10-2) by one game. There are two games left.

    Independence at Butler, Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Depending on what happens Tuesday night, these arch rivals could be playing for the Southwestern 4A title Friday. Independence (13-9, 9-1) plays Rocky River at Grady Cole Center. Independence can grab a share of the league title.

Mecklenburg County teams have beaten up on each other throughout the conference season. There are two weeks left before the playoffs. I have a feeling local teams will make strong postseason runs.


• In the MECKA 8, North Mecklenburg (17-3) is 8-3 in conference, but unbeaten against the rest of its schedule. West Charlotte (16-5) is 10-2 in league play. Outside of conference, the Lions have lost to just two teams in North Carolina. One of them is Charlotte’s Berry High. And conference leader Hough (17-4) has one loss to an N.C. team outside of conference, and private Providence Day won’t play in the NCHSAA playoffs.

• The story is similar for many other top teams in Charlotte. Even Southwestern 4A conference leader Independence (13-9) has one. The Patriots have lost to one N.C. public school outside of Charlotte. And Independence has won four in a row and seven of its last eight.

• Ardrey Kell’s big win over Berry Friday night ended the Cardinals’ nine-game win streak and set up a mega race to the finish in the league. Berry can clinch at least a share of the championship Tuesday at West Meck, but Olympic visits Berry Friday and could get a share of the league title. Of course, Ardrey Kell could, too, if it wins out and Olympic beats Berry.

• Marvin Ridge coach Gosnell White announced his retirement last week after more than 500 wins, five regional appearances and one state championship. White spent much of his high school career at West Charlotte and Harding. He rebuilt each program and they won big. I consider his 1999 West Charlotte team, which finished the season in the top 10 of USA Today’s national poll, as the best public school team in N.C. history.

White won his 100th game at Marvin Ridge last week, further cemeting his legacy as one of the five best boys’ basketball coaches in Mecklenburg County history. He won everywhere he went.

• Weddington’s girls locked up at least a share of the Southern Carolina championship with Friday’s 46-27 win over Sun Valley. Weddington did it without junior All-American Stephanie Watts, a North Carolina recruit. Watts, who has an ankle injury, is expected back this week, coach Ryun Cook said.

• Charlotte United’s Salem Cuthbertson had a senior night to remember Tuesday in a 49-20 win over Monroe’s First Assembly Christian: 27 points, 14 rebounds, four steals. Teammate Desiree Newman, a sophomore, had 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Newman, an Observer All-Mecklenburg pick as a freshman, was featured on USA Today’s national website last week.

• I would love to see a shot clock in N.C. high school basketball. Several states have already adopted it. I’ve championed this cause on Twitter and heard more folks agreeing. For those who don’t, consider this: Colleges play with a shot clock. No, not every kid will play in college, but it’s good preparation to play with it and it’s good for the high school game as a whole. I remember when softball switched to fast-pitch from slow-pitch, largely because colleges were playing fast-pitch. Similar deal here.

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