We take a look at the teams from the 1-A, 2-A, 3-A and 4-A divisions of North Carolina who have the best chance of hanging a banner when the season ends in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. In the first installment, we take a look at the 1-A division.
Lincoln Charter - Head Coach Brad Gabriel has his team at 23-2 on the season with their only two losses coming from Living Water Christian and a 61-55 loss to defending NCISAA 4-A champs Greensboro Day. Leading the way is 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Sam Cogan averaging 18.5 points and 8 rebounds per game. Piedmont College commitment Axel Holm is averaging 12.1 points per game and anchoring the offense is 6-foot-2 junior guard Troy Fulton at 15.1 points per game.
Winston-Salem Prep - One of North Carolina’s most prestigious programs over the past 10 seasons and Prep has won five state titles since opening. This year’s squad is 17-7 overall and are led by 6-foot-2 junior guard Troy Mills at 17 points per game and senior, 6-foot point guard Stephon Minor who is dishing out nearly 6 assists per game. Head Coach Andre Gould has created a dynasty in downtown Winston-Salem since it’s beginning. Key wins over the season include two wins over defending NCHSAA 1-A state champs Bishop McGuiness.
Washington County - With a 21-1 overall record, the eastern champion may well come from the school in Plymouth, North Carolina. Leading the way is 6-foot-1, senior shooting guard Cedez Norman who is scoring at a pace of 17 points per game and pulling down 7 rebounds. Fellow senior small forward De’Andre Downing who is averaging a double-double at 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. On a team with a good amount of seniors doing the bulk of the scoring, sophomore Omar Harris could be the hidden gem and difference maker down the stretch with his 13 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Hayesville - Coming out of the West, Hayesville HS coached by Michael Cottrell of WNC basketball royalty, he has the Yellow Jackets standing at 23-3 with their losses coming from Cherokee, Towns County (GA) and Franklin. A pair of sophomores are leading the team in Kolbe Ashe and Jake McTaggert. The 6-foot-7 McTaggert had 25 points and 26 rebounds earlier in the week in a win over Swain County in the SMC semi-finals. Hayesville got revenge on Cherokee last night, taking the SMC Conference Tournament with a 62-47 win. Ashe is a 5-foot-10 guard that can fill it up from all over the floor. This team should be one of the best teams from the West in the 1-A over the next two seasons.
North Edgecombe - Head Coach Calvin Phillips has North Edgecombe off to a 22-2 record heading into conference tournament finals and the state playoffs. The only two losses are to SW Edgecombe and Wilson Prep. 6-foot-2 senior guard Marvin Tucker leads the team with 15.8 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore shooting guard Amarion McCrae, a 6-foot-3 stat stuffer is averaging 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. North Edgecombe finished the Tar Roanoke Conference in first with a 13-1 record.
John A. Holmes - Winning all homes games this season, Holmes’ only loss came at the hands of aforementioned Washington County HS 80-74 back in mid-January. The Aces are 24-1 on the year and their much anticipated third match-up with Washington County comes this Friday for the Albemarle Athletic Conference Tournament championship. With the series split during the regular season, this could be one of the biggest games of the year. The Aces are led by 6-foot-2 senior small forward Keenan Downing with a scoring average of 15.6 per game. He also contributes 6.8 rebounds per outing. Fellow senior Mitjonta Stanley, a 5-foot-10 guard is averaging 13.5 points and 4.8 assists.