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Basketball's opening week tough on centers


Ashley’s Braelyn Little goes up against Topsail’s Kayla Hyatt for two points during the Screaming Eagles 56-19 win Tuesday night at Topsail High School. (Photo by Jeff Janowski)


The first week of high school basketball season wasn’t kind to centers.

Two local centers who are central parts of their team are out with injury or sickness, just as their respective teams face tough nonconference opponents.

Ashley’s girls team opened the season with high hopes and a deep roster. The Screaming Eagles’ attack was built around a brutal pressure zone defense scheme.

Junior center Morgan Davis made that scheme a nightmare for opposing point guards with her length and athleticism.

But in the season-opening game against Topsail last Tuesday, Davis was running in transition when she buckled and went down. Ashley coach Adrienne Gale said Davis had likely torn her ACL and would miss the season.

“It’s a huge loss for us,” Gale said. “But we’ve still got people that can score. It’s not the end of the world. We were down a little on Wednesday, but on Saturday we tried to move on. We have to move forward.”

That injury requires Ashley to do some rapid adjustments, especially with a tough matchup against Seventy-First on Friday. Gale said her team would probably go smaller and faster to try and counter Seventy-First’s size in the post.

Before the season started, Gale said she was excited about Ashley’s team depth, and now the Screaming Eagles will have to put that depth to use. But Gale said she’d rather have an injury at the start of the season than midway through.

“At least it’s not her senior year,” Gale said. “She still has another season to play. We’re glad that if it happened it’s in the first game of the season and not midway through conference play. We can take our bumps and bruises now and adjust.”

New Hanover center Nigel Holley will also miss time this week after an allergic reaction to medication, Wildcat coach Kirk Angel said.

Holley, a 6-foot-8 senior, will almost definitely miss Tuesday’s game against Clayton, and Angel added that he wasn’t sure if Holley would be available for New Hanover’s games against Broughton and Millbrook this weekend.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Angel said, “Because this is probably the toughest week of the season.”

That’s tough news for New Hanover, because this week contains three top-tier opponents for the defending 4A state champions. Without Holley, New Hanover will face Clayton’s highly touted forward Gary Clark without a battle-tested post player to defend him.

Plus, Clark and Clayton still remember the 22-point beating they took at Brogden Hall in the 2012 NCHSAA playoffs.

That means New Hanover will look to players with little or no varsity experience or players fresh off the football field, like senior guard Trevon Brown.

Brown didn’t seem to miss a beat in the transition. He scored 28 points as New

Hanover beat Trask in the season opener, and Angel said Brown will be essential to weathering games without Holley.

“He’s gotta be huge for us this week,” Angel said. “We might go 0-and-3 this week. I think this young team will grow up a lot this week. They’re not going to see much better. We’re going to schedule really tough and if we drop some, oh well. But it’ll benefit us down the road.”



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