The Concord boys' basketball team has dominated the South Piedmont Conference for the last five seasons, winning all five regular-season and tournament titles while going 55-3.
The Spiders haven't slowed that much this year, starting the season 18-2 (11-1 in the SPC), while averaging 91 points per game and holding the No. 1 spot in the state (3A) for the last month.
But Concord has shown some signs of being human, as Northwest Cabarrus beat the Spiders 86-78 on Jan. 31 and A.L. Brown and Central Cabarrus have given them tough games.
Concord, coached by Scott Brewer, will be the favorite to take its sixth straight conference tournament title next week at Cox Mill, but that is certainly not a foregone conclusion.
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Who has the best shot to challenge the Spiders? We break down the teams, the players and what they need to do to win an SPC conference championship.
SPC tournament breakdown
The Spiders have been running on all cylinders for most of the season, giving up only 61 points per game.
But while Concord has seemed unbeatable, Northwest Cabarrus pulled off an upset that gives the rest of the SPC some hope.
The loss could expose the Spiders or motivate them, which could be scary for opponents.
Senior guard Jacquise Moore (16 ppg) usually starts to assert himself at this point, and he has a wealth of guard talent to complement him, including junior Kendall Knorr (20 ppg) and sophomore Darren Black, who leads a frenetic pace most teams can't match.
How senior forward Xavier Stywall plays in the post could be the key, as the interior is Concord's biggest weakness.
Concord is a heavy favorite to win the SPC tournament, but opponents will be trying to prevent them from doing it again.
The Trojans pulled off the unthinkable Jan. 31, beating Concord after the Spiders had rolled through the conference, including a 28-point win against Northwest Cabarrus in December.
The Trojans went on to lose a tight game to Hickory Ridge the next night.
The question remains: Which Northwest Cabarrus team will show up for the SPC tournament? The good Trojan team is capable of beating anyone, while the lesser version has struggled.
Northwest Cabarrus is led by junior point guard Ameer Jackson, who was spectacular in the Concord win, scoring 30 points.
Jackson and company will have to be at their best to win the SPC tournament, with the senior interior quartet of David Broome, Tyler Church, Ray Kingston and Arlan Wallace asserting themselves on the glass.
The Wonders have been in the top half of the SPC all season and have gone toe-to-toe with the league's best.
A.L. Brown hopes to return to the SPC tournament final and win it this time.
Senior guard Teven Jones has been a scoring machine most of the year, but teams have started to focus on him. That means players like Parrish Smith, Derrick Copeland and Keeon Johnson will have to help Jones carry the load.
A.L. Brown has the talent to be a huge factor, but how well Jones plays could be the difference.
Like A.L. Brown, the Vikings have one of the premier scorers in the Charlotte area in L.C. Cooks, who averages 24 points per game.
But Cooks, who gets a lot of help from senior forward Aaron Johnson (16 ppg), will need his entire supporting cast to step up if Central is to make a run in the tournament.
The Bulls have shown they are capable of beating the top teams in the SPC with a win against Northwest Cabarrus last week. But now, Hickory Ridge could be playing for its postseason life.
Hickory Ridge will need its backcourt, especially Quinton Wimbish (13 ppg) and Jay Lamothe (11 ppg), to be at their very best to make a serious run in the tournament.
Jay M. Robinson
The Bulldogs have been competitive this year but have struggled against the top tier of the SPC.
Senior guard Ross Gadd (14 ppg) and junior forward Brody Koerner (13 ppg) will have to play at the top of their games for the Bulldogs to have an impact on the all-Cabarrus County league tournament.
The Chargers have been better in their second year as a program under coach Brad Hinson. But winning an SPC tournament game would be a big step, especially if they can make it to the semifinals to play on their home floor. But that could still be a few years away.
The senior backcourt of point guard Kasaan Nicholson and shooter Juwan Reid will be key in whatever success Cox Mill has next week.
The Tigers are still struggling with the leap from 2A to 3A in a top-notch conference like the SPC.
Like Cox Mill, winning a game in this tournament would be a huge deal.
Senior guard Mitchell Swarengin (17 ppg) has the talent to lead the Tigers to an upset.