High School Sports

Mallard Creek’s girls begin season No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 basketball poll

Mallard Creek’s Janay Sanders, a LaSalle recruit, leaps above her huddled teammates. Sanders and Mallard Creek begin the season No. 1 in the Observer’S Sweet 16 poll.
Mallard Creek’s Janay Sanders, a LaSalle recruit, leaps above her huddled teammates. Sanders and Mallard Creek begin the season No. 1 in the Observer’S Sweet 16 poll.

Mallard Creek’s girls’ basketball team finished 18-8 in the 2014-15 season. Since then, the Mavericks have been as dominant as any public school team in Mecklenburg County history.

Well, except for one thing.

Unlike state powers from North Mecklenburg (1986), South Mecklenburg (2006), West Charlotte (2009), Butler (2010) and Myers Park (2014, 2015), the Mavericks haven’t won a state championship.

Mallard Creek, which begins the 2017-18 season No. 1 in the Charlotte Observer’s preseason Sweet 16 poll, the same place it started last season, returns four starters from a team that was 29-1 last season and lost in the N.C. 4A Western Regional championship game to eventual state champion Northwest Guilford.

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Mallard Creek’s Ahlana Smith is a top 40 national recruit who has committed to play in college at UCLA. JONATHAN AGUALLO

Over the past two seasons, since going 18-8 in 2014-15, Mallard Creek is 55-3. The Mavericks haven’t lost to a Charlotte-area team since Dec. 23, 2015, when Hickory Ridge -- No. 3 in this year’s preseason poll -- beat the Mavericks 64-61 at a Christmas tournament in Cabarrus County.

Mallard Creek returns four starters this season, including top 40 national recruit Ahlana Smith. Smith, who committed to UCLA and averaged 14 points last season, is a 5-star national recruit. Senior Janay Sanders has committed to LaSalle. Senior Emya Price returns, and junior Dazia Lawrence is a major-college recruit. She led the team in scoring at 17 points per game last season.

2017-18 Preseason Girls’ Sweet 16 Basketball Poll

Rank

School (Class)

2016-17 Record

1.

Mallard Creek (4A)

29-1

2.

Ardrey Kell (4A)

24-7

3.

Hickory Ridge (4A)

31-1

4.

Ashbrook (3A)

27-3

5.

Providence Day (IND)

25-4

6.

South Mecklenburg (4A)

18-10

7.

North Iredell (3A)

28-1

8.

Hickory (3A)

20-7

9.

Rock Hill (5A)

20-5

10.

Hough (4A)

23-6

11.

East Rutherford (2A)

19-9

12.

Morganton Freedom (3A)

29-2

13.

East Burke (2A)

27-4

14.

Cuthbertson (3A)

18-9

15.

Clover, S.C. (5A)

16-9

16.

Charlotte Latin (IND)

12-14

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