It was an Ardrey Kell kind of Friday in Mecklenburg County.
The Knights’ boys and girls basketball teams won sectional championships and qualified for the N.C. 4A Western Regionals. It’s the third trip for the Ardrey Kell boys and their first since 2010.
The girls are going for the first time. To get there, Ardrey Kell snapped Southwest Guilford’s 22-game win streak in its home gym. And, there’s this: Ardrey Kell was down 15-8 early.
“For them to go through the adversity of being down and coming back and fighting through it, I’m super proud of them and they need to be proud of themselves,” Ardrey Kell girls coach Jennifer McVicker said. “They stepped up and refused to lose. It was a great effort.”
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McVicker’s girls had a wicked schedule this season, playing four nationally-ranked teams in the first 12 games. Ardrey Kell started 7-4, but has won 19 straight since upsetting national power St. John’s (D.C.) at the Wild Wing Cafe tournament Dec. 28.
Now the Knights are joining their brothers in Greensboro. This is the Elite 8, hallowed ground in high school basketball.
“We’ve matured a lot,” McVicker said. “With our schedule, we’ve learned a lot and I tell you what, our kids play hard. I tell them, ‘You have fun, you play together, you play hard.’ Those are the big three things I tell them every single day. And I’m so proud of them and their efforts. I can’t express that enough.”
• I think a lot of basketball insiders weren’t sure what to make of Lake Norman (26-1), which whipped Independence 86-62 to reach the regionals for the first time in four years. Lake Norman was 12-13 last year playing in a Charlotte conference. This season, the Wildcats joined a weaker 3A/4A conference and got away from Mecklenburg County’s heavy hitters. What followed was a series of easy wins, except for a 10-point loss to North Meck. But by beating Meck County powers Olympic (64-50) and Independence in back-to-back playoff games, the Wildcats proved they’re serious contenders for a second state title in five seasons.
• Two of the best coaches in Mecklenburg County history have led West Charlotte to state championships. Charles McCullough won six in three different decades. Gosnell White won another in ’99. Current coach Baronton Terry has a state title in 2011 and a runner-up finish in 2012. Despite losing McDonald’s All-American Kennedy Meeks to graduation, Terry has the Lions back in the regionals for the fifth time in six years. He’s on pace to join McCullough and White in the pantheon of great Lions coaches. You cannot argue his results.
Players Of The Week
Kenny Poston, Cherryville boys: Set a school record with 51 points Monday and had 41 in Friday’s sectional final against Alleghany. He scored 114 points in three games last week.
Hunter Seacat, Lake Norman boys: Had 28 points and 14 rebounds in 86-62 win against Independence Friday. Had 25 points, 23 rebounds, four blocks in 64-50 win against Olympic Wednesday.
Stephanie Watts, Weddington girls: Had 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks, four assists in 58-29 win against North Iredell Wednesday; 30 points, nine assists, nine rebounds and five assists in win against Crest Friday.
Rydeiah Rogers, Myers Park girls: Tallied 21 points, 17 rebounds in Friday’s 65-48 win against Hopewell; 23 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and four blocks in Wednesday’s 64-42 win against Rocky River.
Gabe DeVoe, Shelby boys: Clemson recruit scored 39 points in Friday’s 77-70 overtime upset loss to North Rowan.
Games of the week
Greensboro Page boys vs. West Charlotte, Thursday, Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center: Going to be a guardfest. The Lions have a lot of talented guards, including senior point Trey Foster. Page’s Ty Graves, nephew of former North Carolina Tar Heel forward Will Graves, is the son of Page coach Kevin Graves and one of the state’s top sophomores. Page 6-foot-6 senior forward Jeremy Harris averages 15 points and eight rebounds.
Ardrey Kell boys vs. Lake Norman Thursday, Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center: Ardrey Kell has never won a regional playoff game. Lake Norman has never lost one. Will Lake Norman’s size dominate or will the Knights’ guard play?
Myers Park girls vs. West Forsyth, Tuesday, Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center: West Forsyth has won 15 straight and will try to pull off the upset of the nationally ranked Mustangs, who are hunting their first state championship berth.
Mount Tabor girls vs. Ardrey Kell, Tuesday: Mount Tabor beat Western No. 1 seed McDowell 75-65 on Friday. That’s one of the toughest places to win in North Carolina. Ardrey Kell gets a shot at its first regional game.