Cabarrus

Could these Spiders bring home 3A state championship?

Scott Brewer knows no one connected with the Concord High boys basketball team should be making predictions this late in the schedule.

But the longtime coach has a gut feeling that this year's Spiders team is better than last year's was at this point in the season.

A lot of local basketball fans and plenty of 3A teams across the state know what that could mean.

Concord finished as the state runner-up in 2010, losing in the title game to Rocky Mount. With results like that, any improvement could translate into only one thing: a state championship.

The Spiders are ranked No. 1 in the state poll, but Brewer said there's an intangible that sometimes goes unnoticed.

"It's not about how good you are, though," he said. "It's about how good everybody else is. That's huge."

Only loss came early

Fifteen games into the season, only one team has been better than Concord. That was Mount Tabor, in the Spiders' first game of the season.

Concord fell 75-71 to the Spartans, but the Spiders played without senior Jacquise Moore, one of their leading scorers, and sophomore B.J. Beecher. Both were still playing for Concord's football team in the state playoffs.

Mount Tabor is ranked in the the top 10 in the state among 4A teams.

The Spiders have reeled off 14 straight wins, some of them by margins that usually only the Harlem Globetrotters achieve. With any Brewer-coached team, the pace is going to be frenetic, and this year's Spiders may be better at it than any team he's coached.

Breakneck scoring pace

Some of Brewer's Central Cabarrus teams, when he coached there 1996-2006, scored near the pace of this year's Concord team. But the Spiders have been scoring at a rate that no team in Cabarrus County has ever seen, at least so far.

The 2005-06 Vikings team, led by current Houston Rocket Ish Smith, averaged 88 points per game, Brewer said. Having tallied more than 100 in five different games, this year's Concord team scores at a rate of more than 90 points per game.

Led by junior Kendall Knorr's 17 points per game and Moore's 14.5 ppg., five players average in double figures.

The Spiders' rotation keeps everyone happy. Concord has just 10 players on the roster, and Brewer rotates fresh bodies per a pre-determined game plan. Half his players are either freshmen or sophomores.

"(The pace is) just fast and chaotic," senior guard Patrick Jenkins said. "We try to get people going faster than what they're used to."

Almost transferred

Jenkins and Moore are two of the defensive leaders. But at the beginning of the school year, it didn't look as though Moore, a four-year starter, would be there.

Moore had transferred to Flora Macdonald, a prep school in Red Springs, to give a boost to his academics, he said. But by the eighth day of the public school calendar, he was back at Concord, saying Flora Macdonald "just didn't feel right."

In the preseason, Brewer expressed concern about how well his team would gel. Entering the second round of South Piedmont 3A Conference games, Brewer said it was a non-issue, and he gave a lot of the credit to Moore for his unselfish play.

"Everybody was happy for me to be back," Moore said. "And I was happy to be back, so I don't think I missed anything."

Point guard Darren Black, shooting guard Will Vanderburg and Xavier Stywall, the Spiders' only starting post player, also score in double figures.

The conference tournament is scheduled to start Feb. 14, and the state playoffs will begin a week later.

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