Teams to Watch
Ashbrook: The Green Wave are 87-6 in the last three years, including a 30-1 mark last season that ended in the 3A state semifinals. This year, Ashbrook has plenty of talent led by seniors Summer Schloss (10 ppg, 12 rpg) and Shajada Barrett (9 ppg) on a team that is still hungry to compete for championships (Big South conference, 3A state).
North Gaston: The Wildcats have won 58 games in the last three years, including a 20-8 record last season. This year, with all five starters back, led by senior point guard Spencer Britton (14 ppg, 10 rpg), North Gaston is poised to make a run at a Big South conference title and into the playoffs.
Forestview: The Jaguars have an experienced lineup returning from a 21-win team, led by senior forward Yasmine Love (13 ppg, 13 rpg). Forestview should be right in the mix in the top half of the Big South conference race and in strong, playoff position.
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Gaston Day: The Spartans were much improved last year, doubling their win total, while finishing as Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) runner-up to Concord First Assembly. This year, Gaston Day should be even better with all five starters back in the lineup, led by all-state sophomore guard Zaria Clark (14 ppg, 9 rpg) and senior forward Olivia King (13 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 bpg), giving them a chance to be a factor in the MAC and deep into the playoffs (NCISAA 2A state quarterfinalist last year).
Highland Tech: The Rams also made a huge jump last year, finishing 15-9, tying for the South Piedmont 1A conference regular season title after six straight losing previously. Now, Highland Tech looks to keep their winning ways going with senior guard Marjani Onafowora (14 ppg, 4 spg) leading the charge.
Mountain Island Charter: The Raptors were up and down last year going 10-11 overall including 8-6 in the PAC 7 1A conference. This year, Mountain Island Charter looks to get back on the right side of .500 and in the top half of the league standings. Coach Shauntay Tidwell will need the backcourt of sophomore Zahra Bichara (11 ppg, 8 rpg), and junior Savanna Doyle (9 ppg, 4 spg) to step into lead roles for a younger team.
Players to Watch
Spencer Britton, North Gaston senior: What the Wildcats’ point guard may lack in height (5-foot-2), she makes up for in productivity, averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. Britton, a three-time all-conference pick, will be all over the court again this year for a North Gaston team that has big expectations with all five starters back.
Summer Schloss, Ashbrook senior: The Ashbrook forward and University of Alabama Birmingham commit (10 ppg, 12 rpg) takes on a lead role for a Green Wave team that has averaged 29 wins per season in the last three years, and has championship expectations again.
Yasmine Love, Forestview senior: The Jaguars’ forward (13 ppg, 13 rpg, 2 spg, 2 bpg) will need to play big to help Forestview keep pace in a brutal, Big South conference.
Nautica Falls, Hunter Huss senior: Huskies’ all-conference guard can points in a hurry (19 ppg) and will need to for Hunter Huss (10-13 last year) to be more consistent.
Zaria Clark, Gaston Day sophomore: The Spartans’ standout guard was an all-state performer as a freshman (14 ppg, 9 rpg, 4 apg, 4 spg). This year, Clark hopes her play will help Gaston Day to more meaningful victories.
Marjani Onafowora, Highland Tech senior: The Rams’ guard can fill up a stat sheet in a hurry, averaging 14 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals per game.
Carley Womack, Stuart Cramer senior: The Storm senior guard is a two-time all Big-South conference performer (14 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 spg) and will need to be at her best to Stuart Cramer compete in a tough league with a younger team.
Zahra Bichara, Mountain Island Charter sophomore: The Mountain Island Charter sophomore had a big freshman year, averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and five steals per game and now looks to be even more productive as a sophomore.
Can’t Miss Games
Gaston Day at Davidson Day, Tuesday, Dec. 4: Spartans get an early-season road test against one of the NCISAA 2A teams in the state.
Concord First Assembly at Gaston Day, Tuesday, Jan. 15: This mid-January matchup could be critical in deciding who controls their own destiny in winning a Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) title.
North Gaston at Kings Mountain, Tuesday Jan. 29: Big South conference battle will be critical in the league standings with two weeks to go in the regular season.
Forestview at Ashbrook, Tuesday, Jan. 29: The same night another huge Big South conference battle pitting Gaston County rivals.
Lincoln Charter at Highland Tech, Tuesday, Feb. 5: The reigning, SPC 1A co-champions could decide the league title in this early February matchup. Lincoln Charter also hosts Highland Tech, Jan. 11.
Kings Mountain at Ashbrook, Tuesday, Feb. 5: The Mountaineers and Green Wave could decide the Big South conference regular season champion with 10 days to go in the regular season.
First-year East Gaston girls’ basketball coach Mark Pollard, a former East Mecklenburg assistant, says he “is a new coach with a new system, new culture and new attitude,” coming to a team that has struggled recently, going 20-52 in the last three years.
The Bessemer City girls’ basketball team was much improved last season, as coach Billy James led his team to a 12-11 record, their first winning season since the 2013-14 season. The Yellow Jackets won nine games in the first two season of James’ tenure.
Ashbrook senior forward, Summer Schloss is not only the top player for Ashbrook, she’s also a University of Alabama-Birmingham commit who was also recently named the school’s homecoming queen.
Big South Girls
North Gaston; 2. Ashbrook; 3. Forestview; 4. Kings Mountain; 5. Hunter Huss; 6. Burns; 7. Crest; 8. Stuart Cramer.
Metrolina Christian (MAC) Girls
Concord First Assembly; 2. Gaston Day; 3. Metrolina Christian; 4. Hickory Grove; 5. Northside Christian; 6. SouthLake Christian; 7. Westminster Catawba; 8. Gaston Christian.
Piedmont Athletic Conference 8 (PAC 8) Girls
Union Academy; 2. Community School of Davidson; 3. Pine Lake Prep; 4. Mountain Island Charter; 5. Langtree Charter; 6. Carolina International; 7. Queens Grant; 8. Bradford Prep.
South Piedmont 1A Girls
Lincoln Charter; 2. Highland Tech; 3. Cherryville; 4. Bessemer City; 5. Piedmont Charter; 6. Thomas Jefferson Academy.
Southwestern 2A Girls
East Rutherford; 2. Shelby; 3. R.S. Central; 4. East Gaston; 5. South Point; 6. Chase.