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.”
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
Games of the week