Here is a Rowan County high school basketball preview from Observer correspondent Jay Edwards
Teams to Watch
West Rowan: Coach Seth Graham returns four starters from a 21-win, 3A state quarterfinalist that has won three straight North Piedmont conference titles. Senior Olen Stamper and juniors Daniel Durham and Payne Stolsworth give West Rowan a pitching rotation to win another league title.
Carson: Coach Chris Cauble has a lot of reasons to believe this Carson team can contend in NPC and beyond into the postseason with eight starters back in the lineup. South Carolina signee and Major League prospect Owen White, Luke Barringer, Maddux Holshouser (UNC Greensboro signee) and Cameron Prugh, give the Cougars a lineup and pitching staff that should also contend in the NPC and be a tough team to beat in a one-and-done playoff scenario.
East Rowan: Coach Brian Hightower is a proven winner and returns a veteran team with five starters back. Seniors Hayden Setzer (Catawba College signee), Will Brown, Corbin Moss and Matthew Mathis will look to lead help the Mustangs in loaded NPC with Carson and West Rowan. When the calendar turns to May, East Rowan will certainly be battle-tested and capable of making a playoff run.
Players to Watch
Owen White, Carson, Sr.: The fact that 28 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams have visited White at home or at school, according to Coach Cauble, says all you need to know about him. But White can do it all, as he throws a 94-mile per hour fastball, plays shortstop (when not pitching) and hit .473 with two home runs, 12 doubles, 22 RBI last season. Now, the all-state South Carolina signee wants to finish his Carson career in championship fashion (conference, state).
Maddux Holshouser, Carson, Sr.: On any other team, the Carson senior is the No. 1 pitcher. The UNC Greensboro signee looks to be even better than his 6-3 mark with a 1.96 ERA and 45 strikeouts a year ago.
Olen Stamper, West Rowan, Sr.: Catawba Valley Community College signee will be a major offensive (.306 last year) and defensive weapon (4-0, 1.72 ERA, 48 strikeouts).
Hayden Setzer, East Rowan, Sr.: Catawba College signee also gets it done on the mound (7-2 with 1.30 ERA last year) and at the plate (.342 last year). The 6-foot-4 senior looks to be an even more imposing force for the Hornets
Can’t Miss Games
Carson at East Rowan, March 23: This late March tilt will set an early tone for each team in the NPC race, with the rematch (East Rowan at Carson) on April 17 likely becoming an even bigger game with postseason implications.
East Rowan at West Rowan, April 13: Bragging rights, position in the NPC standings and postseason will all be stake when Mustangs and Falcons do battle with two weeks left in the regular season. West travels to East, March 20.
Carson at West Rowan, April 24: The NPC title could be on the line in this matchup with just three days left in the regular season. West Rowan also travels to Carson, March 29.
West Rowan at Providence, April 25: The Falcons make a trip to South Charlotte in an intriguing late season matchup with 4A power, Providence, which will prepare both teams for the postseason. East Rowan also travels to South Mecklenburg the same day.
Salisbury at South Rowan, April 27: The regular season finale for both teams will also likely be critical to their spot in the Central Carolinas conference.
- Salisbury freshman, Vance Honeycutt, will solidify the HornetsGriffin Myers and Joe Steinman are pitching, according to Coach Mike Herndon. Honeycutt also plays for the U15 South Charlotte Panthers
- Salisbury Coach Mike Herndon is in just his third year with the Hornets, but he has 437 career victories, including a state championship with Southwest Guilford in 1997.
- Ledford; 2. North Davidson; 3. West Davidson; 4. South Rowan; 5. Salisbury; 6. East Davidson; 7. Central Davidson; 8. Oak Grove; 9. Lexington; 10. Thomasville.
North Piedmont 3A Conference
- Carson; 2. East Rowan; 3. West Rowan; 4. South Iredell; 5. North Iredell; 6. Statesville.
Yadkin Valley 1A Conference
- North Stanly; 2. South Stanly; 3. Uwharrie Charter; 4. North Moore; 5. West Montgomery; 6. North Rowan; 7. Gray Stone Day; 8. Albemarle; 9. South Davidson.
**North Rowan and South Rowan had not responded to requests for preseason information when this story was published.