#BIG5 Players To Watch
Chyna Cornwell, Newton-Conover, 6-3, So, C: Playing for former N.C. State/North Meck standout Andrea Stinson, Cornwell is a major-college recruit who averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds last season.
Mica Dyson, Lincolnton, 6-0, Sr., G: Gardner-Webb recruit averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists last season
Mallorie Haines, Bandys, 5-8, Fr, G: Played with high school rising seniors the past two summers of travel ball. Will be major-college recruit.
Destiny Johnson, East Lincoln, 5-8, Sr., G: Averaged 20.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.2 steals last season; Observer All-Region first team selection has scored than 1,500 points.
Kendra Ross, East Rutherford, Sr., F: Averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds for a 19-win team.
3 hot teams
East Lincoln (20-7 in 2016-17): Three starters return from regular-season conference champion that lost in conference tournament finals and the first-round of the playoffs. That should provide motivation.
East Rutherford (19-9 in 2016-17): Junior Osha Makerson, Claire Jackson and Charmee Miller combined to average 37 points per game and are among four starters returning for a league title contender.
Lincolnton (13-11 in 2016-17): All five starters return and the school’s top three reserves are also back for coach Jimmy Carr.
▪ West Iredell, which returns three starters and a Bunker Hill transfer in sophomore Carly Sigmon, will try to improve on last season’s 11-14 record. The team will get inspiration from coach David Parsons, who is being treated for colon cancer.
▪ First-year Forest Hills coach Marc Richardson returns four starters from a 4-18 team and thinks he can lead a big turnaround to the playoffs. Look for big seasons from senior guard Kendall Howard and junior forward Jelaysia Howard if it happens.
▪ Shelby is another team that could make a jump. The Golden Lions were 9-15 last season and are 29-42 the past three. Five starters return, including junior L’Mia Littlejohn (14 ppg). Shelby looks ready for a playoff run.
▪ East Burke was 27-4 last season, has a 19-game home win streak and has won 49 games in two years. Three starters return for what coach Crystal Bartlett believes will be a deep playoff run.