Teams to Watch
China Grove Carson: The Cougars are 46-11 in the last two seasons, including a 25-4 mark last year, where they were co-North Piedmont conference (NPC) champions with North Iredell. This year, Carson returns three starters, led by all-conference senior guard McKenzie Gadson (13 ppg, 5 rpg) and sophomore guard Colby Perry (8 ppg), who give the experience and talent to contend in the NPC and go deep into the playoffs, again (advanced to the 3rd round of the 3A state playoffs last year).
West Rowan: The Falcons have averaged 20 wins per season in the last three years and return four starters this year, led by all-NPC forward Abigail Wilson (21.7 ppg, 16.7 rpg). West Rowan looks to finish in the top half of the NPC again and be a dangerous playoff matchup with their experience (3rd round last year).
Salisbury: The Hornets will again make life uncomfortable for their opponents as they will go full-court pressure with an up-tempo offense and defense. Salisbury returns four starters from a 19-win team, led by senior Bryanna Troutman (16 ppg, 11 rpg) and junior Anayia Fulson (14 ppg). A veteran Hornets’ team will also be motivated after finishing at Central Carolinas’ conference runner-up and losing in the 1st round of the 2A state playoffs.
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Players to Watch
Janiya Downs, South Rowan senior: The Raiders, all-conference guard/forward can fill it up, averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds and three steals per game last season.
Abigail Wilson, West Rowan junior: The Falcons’ forward is a monster in the paint and on the boards as she averaged 21.7 points and 16.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore and should be even better this season.
McKenzie Gadson, Carson senior: The Cougars’ all-conference guard (13 ppg) returns to help a veteran Carson team battle for NPC supremacy and more into the postseason.
Bryanna Troutman, Salisbury senior: The Hornets’ three-time all-Central Carolinas’ conference forward (16 ppg, 11 rpg, 5 spg) can get it done on both sides of the court for a team that plays at a frenetic, full-court pace.
Adalie Harrison, East Rowan junior: The Mustangs’ guard (9 ppg, 4 rpg) will look to help East Rowan get into the win column (5-20 last year) more often this season.
Can’t Miss Games
South Rowan at Carson, Wednesday, Dec. 5: The Raiders get an early season test and opportunity to prove they can hang with a Carson team that has won 46 games in the last two years.
Carson at North Iredell, Friday, Feb. 1: The reigning co-NPC champions battle in what could be the league’s regular season title game on the first day of Februaary.
Salisbury at Leford, Tuesday, February 5: The Central Carolinas’ conference regular season champion could be determined when Salisbury travels to Ledford in early February. Salisbury hosts Ledford, Dec. 18.
West Rowan at North Iredell, Friday, Feb. 8 and West Rowan at Carson, Tuesday, Feb. 12: West Rowan has two huges game in four-day span with the Falcons, Carson and North Iredell likely deciding the NPC title in the final week of the season.
South Rowan senior Janiya Downs is a three-sport standout as she stars for the Raiders’ basketball, track and volleyball teams. Downs was voted Rowan County Athlete of the Year by the Salisbury Post last year.
China Grove Carson sophomore forward Carleigh Perry should help Cougars immediately after being sidelined by a torn ACL most of last year, according to Carson coach Brooke Stouder.
The East Rowan girls’ basketball team has struggled the last two years going 9-40. This year, the Mustangs have a chance to be much improved with four starters back, including three juniors and a senior.
Note: Conference standings predictions were compiled from the votes of each leagues’ coaches.
Central Carolinas’ Girls
Ledford; 2. Salisbury; 3. South Rowan; 4. East Davidson; 5. West Davidson; 6. Thomasville; 7. North Davidson; 8. Lexington; 9. Oak Grove; 10. Central Davidson.
North Piedmont Girls’
Carson; 2. North Iredell; 3. Statesville; 4. West Rowan; 5. South Iredell; 6. East Rowan.
Yadkin Valley 1A Girls
Albemarle; 2. Gray Stone Day; 3. North Moore; 4. North Stanly; 5. South Davidson; 6. West Montgomery; 7. South Stanly; 8. North Rowan; 9. Uwharrie Charter.