Prep Insider Blog

Girls High School Basketball Previews: Kannapolis/Cabarrus County

After reaching the N.C. 3A state championship game last season, Hickory Ridge has reloaded for another run at the school’s first title
After reaching the N.C. 3A state championship game last season, Hickory Ridge has reloaded for another run at the school’s first title


Head Coach: Andrew Porter (1st year at A.L. Brown basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 5-17 (2-10 MECKA 4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont Conference (SPC)/3A.

Returning Starters (5): Jala Campbell, So., PG; Akeena Maxwell, Sr., G; Jaliyah Simmons, So., F/C; Debrisha Campbell, Sr., G/F; Bryana Foster, Sr., G. Key Newcomers: Cierra Jackson, Jr., F/C; Kayla Anderson, Jr., F.

Outlook: The Wonders have struggled lately, winning only nine games in the past two seasons. But Coach Porter says his team is starting over with "in a new conference with a new coach and a new attitude." A.L. Brown should benefit greatly from the move from the MECKA 4A to the SPC 3A conference as they also return all five starters led by the backcourt duo of Campbell and Foster.



Head Coach: Kelvin Drakeford (1st year Cannon School girls’ basketball coach)

2016-17 Record: 1-19 (0-10 in the CISAA Conference).

2017-18 Conference: CISAA Conference/NCISAA 3A.

Returning Starters (1): Sane Davis, Jr., G (5-5). Key Newcomers: Sydney Wood, Fr., G (5-7); Caroline Livingston, Jr., G (5-7); Anna Galloway, Fr., F (5-10).

Outlook: The Cougars’ girls’ basketball team has struggled mightily in the last three seasons with just 11 wins combined in that span. Coach Kelvin Drakeford, Cannon’s School associate boys’ basketball coach (assistant), looks to breathe new life into the girls’ program. However, with only one starter back in Davis, it’s going to be a steep climb out of the bottom of the standings, but the Cougars hope to take some steps in the right direction this season.



Head Coach: Jennifer Henri (2nd year as Carolina International basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 12-14 (Independent/no conference).

2017-18 Conference: Piedmont Athletic Conference 7A (PAC 7)/1A.

Returning Starters (3): Jenaan Zaghari, Sr., G (5-4); Anna Mack, So., G (5-5); India Spann, So. G (5-4).

Other Key Returnees: Sanura Ezeagu, Jr., C (5-9); McKayla Cyrus, Sr., F (5-5). Key Newcomers: Amanda Langley, Sr., C (5-11); Jazzive Vizcarra, Fr., F (5-7).

Outlook: The Comets had a respectable season last year going 12-14 overall. This year, Carolina International takes on a new challenge in a new conference (PAC 7/1A), led by their starting backcourt in Zaghari (13 ppg), Spann (10 ppg) and Mack (7 ppg). If the Comets can finish in the middle of the pack and be in playoff position that would be a big accomplishment.



Head Coach: Brandon Blalock (5th year as Central Cabarrus basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 94-74.

2016-17 Record: 26-5 (16-2 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC)).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont Conference/3A.

Returning Starters (3): Ja-el Miller, So., PG (5-5); Nevaeh Brown, So., G (5-9); Aniyah Tate, So., F (5-8). Key Newcomers: Jada Ussery, Fr., G (5-8); Serena Webb, Fr., G (5-5); Tegra Mphembu, So., F (5-11).

Outlook: Central Cabarrus begins life without all-state guard, Mahaley Holit, who led the Vikings to 26 wins and the 3A state quarterfinals (Elite 8) last year. But Coach Brandon Blalock has plenty of young talent in the backcourt in Miller, Brown and incoming freshman in Ussery, who are all Division I prospects, already. The Vikings’ backcourt firepower along with Tate up front will give them a good shot to win the SPC and be a dangerous playoff matchup, again this season.



Head Coach: Todd Tinsley (1st year as Concord basketball coach, 5th year overall).

2016-17 Record: 5-19 (2-16 in the South Piedmont conference (SPC)).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont Conference.

Returning Starters (5): Janazi Chambers, Jr., C; Alexis Clark, Sr., F; Alexis Smith, Jr., F (5-8); Deniya Gravely, Jr., F (5-8); Makayla Davis, Sr., G (5-10). Key Newcomers: Kykiah Benjamin, Fr., PG.

Outlook: After establishing themselves as perennial SPC contenders earlier this decade, Concord has struggled with just 26 wins combined in the last four years. This year, the Spiders return all five starters, led by Davis, Gravely and Smith, Concord looks to climb back up the league standings and back into the playoff hunt.



Head Coach: Bill Middlebrooks (12th year as Concord First Assembly basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 26-6 (10-0 in the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC)).

2017-18 Conference: Metrolina Athletic Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Shamani Stafford, Sr., G (5-6); Jessyka Leak, Sr., G (5-6); Camille Smalls, Sr., G (5-7). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Coach Bill Middlebrooks and his Concord First Assembly team have averaged 22 wins per season over the last eight years, including a trip to the NCISAA 2A semifinals last February.

This year, with the senior backcourt trio of Stafford (19.5 ppg), Leak and Smalls, the Eagles will be the favorite to win their conference (MAC) again and have the talent to make another deep postseason run.



Head Coach: Justin Thomas (1st year as Cox Mill basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 21-25.

2016-17 Record: 9-16 (8-10 in the South Piedmont Conference (SPC)).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont 3A Conference.

Returning Starters (2): Alyssa Sondrini, Sr., SF (5-7); Nya Tillery, So., SF (5-11).

Other Key Returnees: Shamiya Surratt, Sr., G (5-8); Kayla Smith, Jr., F (5-9).

Outlook: Cox Mill has never posted double figure wins in the short history of the program, but had a solid season last year with nine victories. This year, 1st-year coach, Justin Thomas, looks to help jumpstart the Chargers’ program, but nothing is going to come easy with only two starters back, Sondrini and Tillery, in a brutal SPC.



Head Coach: Tolonda Simmons (6th year as Hickory Ridge basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 31-1 (18-0 to win South Piedmont Conference (SPC) champions).

2017-18 Conference: Southwestern 4A Conference.

Returning Starters (5): Gabby Smith, Sr., F (5-11) (Western Carolina commit); Nia Daniel, Jr., G (5-10) (University of North Carolina commit); Alyssa Wagner, Sr., G (5-8) (Lenoir Rhyne commit); Jiera Spears, Sr., G (5-7). Key Newcomers: Rinnah Green, Sr., G (5-8) (Charlotte 49ers’ commit) (Butler transfer); Courtney Meadows, Sr., G (5-5) (Georgetown University commit) (Rocky River transfer).

Outlook: Hickory Ridge had a season for the ages last year, going 31-1 overall, and finishing a 3A state runner-up after a heartbreaking 66-64 loss to the Northern Guilford in the state championship game. This season, Coach Simmons and her team have a new challenge in the SW4A conference and class 4A. But, the Ragin’ Bulls are loaded with the experience, talent and size, led by Daniel, Smith, Spears, Wagner and transfers, Green and Meadows, to challenge for a SW4A title and be a serious contender for 4A state championship in their first in the state’s highest classification.



Head Coach: Ronald Reynolds (1st year as Jay M. Robinson basketball coach).

2016-17 Record: 12-10 (10-8 in the South Piedmont Conference (SPC)).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont Conference/3A.

Returning Starters (TBD): TBD

Other Key Returnees: TBD. Key Newcomers: TBD.

Outlook: TBD.



Head Coach: Jarmaine Spruill (3rd year as Northwest Cabarrus basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 5-41.

2016-17 Record: 4-19 (3-15 in the South Piedmont Conference (SPC).

2017-18 Conference: South Piedmont Conference.

Returning Starters (4): Braedon Allen, Jr., SF (5-8); Phoebe Florian, Jr., SG (5-7); Tricia Robinson, Sr., PG (5-5); Anna Sterling, Jr., C (6-0). Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: Northwest Cabarrus has won just five games in the last two seasons, but is prime for breakout campaign with four starters back, led by Robinson (9.5 ppg) and Allen. Expect the Trojans to move into the middle of SPC standings and get back into the playoffs.


**Still need capsule information from Cabarrus Charter, Jay M. Robinson (incomplete) and Mount Pleasant.