Teams to Watch
Maiden: The Blue Devils (19-6 last year) return three starte.rs, led by senior Zoe Huffman (13 ppg, 10 rpg) and junior Cree Bass (11 ppg, 4 apg), as they look to contend for the South Fork 2A conference and more into the postseason.
Newton Conover: The Red Devils return four starters from a 17-win team, centered around 6-foot-4, all-state center, Chyna Cornwell (20 ppg, 18 rpg, 5 bpg). If Cornwell can get consistent help on the perimeter, Newton Conover could be a legitimate, South Fork 2A conference threat and a nightmare matchup in a one-and-done, playoff scenario.
Hickory: Coach Barbara Helms seems to always have the Red Tornadoes at or near the top of the conference standings and this year should be no different.
Bunker Hill: The Bears are trending upward after a 9-17 record and a playoff appearance last year. This season, the backcourt duo of senior, Crystany White (13 ppg) and sophomore, Addie Wray (13 ppg), will look to keep the program going in the right direction.
St. Stephens: The Indians have quietly averaged 15 wins per season over the last three years. This season, veteran coach Roger Shield, senior Aylasha McHenry and junior Ryleigh Rhodes look to help get St. Stephens into the top half of the NW3A/4A standings and back into the playoffs.
Players to Watch
Chyna Cornwell, Newton Conover junior: The Red Devils’ center is a monster on both sides of the court. She averaged 20 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks last season. This year, Cornwell hopes her numbers can translate into winning some of biggest games in conference play and into the postseason.
Zoe Huffman, Maiden senior: Blue Devils’ forward averaged a double-double for a Maiden team with South Fork 2A title goals and more into the playoffs.
Crystany White (Sr.)/Addie Wray (So.), Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill backcourt duo give the Bears two scoring options on a team that is on the rise in the Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference.
Aylasha McHenry (Sr.)/Ryleigh Rhodes, St. Stephens: Indians’ duo hopes to help St. Stephens get back into the upper echelon of the NW3A/4A race and in the playoff picture.
Destiny Garvin, Fred T. Foard senior: The Tigers’ senior forward (9 ppg) looks to help Fred T. Foard improve after notching just 14 wins in the last five years.
Can’t Miss Games
Bunker Hill at Newton Conover, Tuesday, Nov. 27: Bears and Red Devils will both good a good early read on their teams in this intriguing non-conference battle.
Dicks’ Sporting Goods’ Classic Tournament at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), Dec. 27-29: Most of Catawba County’s best boys’ and girls’ team will show off their skills in this annual tournament at CVCC.
Freedom at Hickory, Tuesday, Jan. 29: A huge game in the Northwestern 3A/4A conference race for both teams as the stretch run of the regular season begins.
Newton Conover at Maiden, Tuesday, Feb. 12: Catawba County showdown could decide the South Fork 2A regular season conference champion, will at least have major league standing implications.
Maiden at Lincolnton, Friday, Feb. 15: The regular season finale for both teams could also be the South Fork 2A regular season championship game.
Maiden senior forward Zoe Huffman is also a four-time, N.C. state tennis champion (3-time, 2A state singles’ champion, one-time doubles’ state champion) and finished her Indians’ tennis career by leading her team to a 2A state (team) title. Huffman is a UNC Wilmington tennis commit.
Maiden girls’ basketball coach Frank Snider, is returning for his second stint as the Blue Devils’ girls’ coach. Snider is already the all-time winningest coach in Maiden history for both boys’ and girls’ basketball and has also been the head coach for the Blue Devils’ football and baseball teams.
Hickory girls’ basketball coach Barbara Helms has 414 wins in her 18-year coaching career. She has averaged 23 wins per season in nearly two decades of coaching entering her 19th season this year.
St. Stephens’ girls’ basketball coach Roger Shield is entering his 40th season.
Note: Conference standings predictions were compiled from the votes of each leagues’ coaches.
Northwestern 3A/4A Girls’
Freedom; 2. Hickory; 3. Watauga; 4. McDowell; 5. South Caldwell; 6. West Caldwell;
7. St. Stephens; 8. Alexander Central.
Northwest Foothills’ 2A Girls’
East Burke; 2. Draughn; 3. Patton; 4. Bunker Hill; 5. West Iredell; 6. Hibriten; 7. Fred T. Foard.
Southern Piedmont Athletic Association Girls
Victory Christian; 2. Statesville Christian; 3. Hickory Christian; 4. North Hills Christian; 5. United Faith; 6. University Christian; 7. Woodlawn School.
South Fork 2A Girls
Newton Conover; 2. Maiden; 3. Lincolnton; 4. East Lincoln; 5. Lake Norman Charter; 6. Bandys; 7. North Lincoln; 8. West Lincoln.