Hoops Notebook: Field muddled after first month


Hoggard's Trevor Singleton is averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. (Photo by StarNews file photo)


Happy Holidays, Christmas, Festivus and whatever else you have celebrated. I hope you will have some time to eat good food with people you care about. In case you haven't noticed, we're in the midst of an interesting high school basketball season. As you prepare for the next two months, let's get you caught up to where everyone stands.

The first month is in the books. Teams are either taking time off for Christmas or heading to holiday tournaments. Those are fun and we'll have coverage of them (hey, Brogden Tournament anyone?) but in the meantime, what does the landscape look like so far heading into the holidays?

Here's what we know. Much of this will change.



Up in the air

It would appear that there isn't a clear-cut top boys team in the area. Ashley seems to be the front-runner in the Mideastern Conference, but the Screaming Eagles have lost to 71st and to Jack Britt. Hoggard, New Hanover and Laney are are hovering around .500, all with decent wins and tough losses. It looks like the Mideastern Conference may be wide open, but then again it appeared that way in 2010-2011 as well at this time, and we know how that worked out – New Hanover went 9-1 in conference play. Oh yeah, and the Wildcats just handled Pine Forest on Friday. So who knows how this will play out.

The Waccamaw Conference boys race also could be between North Brunswick and Whiteville, but the Bladen County schools will factor into that discussion at some point, and West Brunswick has momentum after a big win Friday.

As always, the East Central Conference is clustered at the top – Topsail, Northside, Croatan, and Clinton have three losses among them – and Topsail has them all after dropping two games vs. 4A schools and a heartbreaker to the Monarchs on Friday. Expect this conference to be as tight as it usually is.

And good luck making heads or tails of the Tri-County Conference – seven of the league's eight teams are within two games of .500. It's hard to figure who will emerge, though James Kenan, Union and Wallace-Rose Hill are all good bets.

We know this

Ashley and Laney are the two dominant girls teams in the Mideastern Conference until someone beats them. New Hanover probably has the best shot at knocking off one of those two, but Ashley and Laney have such a combination of talent and experience that it'll be tough for anyone else in a very young league to do so.

East Bladen and Whiteville will likely fight it out for the Waccamaw Conference title again, while Clinton, Northside and East Duplin are all contenders in the East Central, as expected. The Tri-County will likely again be between Lakewood and James Kenan, though Midway could throw a wrench in things again.

Change of fortunes?

As of right now, the big surprise is Coastal Christian's stellar play – the Centurious are 6-3 so far.

But high school sports tends to run in cycles, and we could be starting to see that. New Hanover's boys have been so dominant in recent years that seeing them get crushed in a nonconference game seems wrong. That has opened the door for the other schools in Wilmington – especially given Ashley's 7-2 start to the season.

And with West Bladen appearing less dominant in the Waccamaw Conference, everyone in that league thinks it's there for the taking. Whiteville's Jerry Singletary compared it to the ACC (come on now, who is the Wake Forest of the Waccamaw?), and others have noted that there's a little breathing room, so strap in for a bumpy ride. It could also signal the rise of North Brunswick. The Scorpions have plenty of good wins on their schedule already, and they've got a trip to the Shootout by the Sea coming up as well. Coach Bryan Hayes has said for the past year and a half that he's trying to build a successful program. He might have done it.

But we also know how things can change in January – remember two seasons ago when Laney won its first 13 games, including the Brogden, and then finished 5-7?

Numbers game

Also, efficiency is awesome – Hoggard's Trevor Singleton leads in this category; the junior forward is averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He's also shooting close to 60 percent from the field. Ashley's wing combination of Ridell Camidge and Tyre Gathright gives the Eagles two legitimate perimeter scorers, and that's opened things up for UT-Chattanooga signee T.J. Williams in the post. The result has been a much more efficient attack.

New Hanover's Kapria Pressley and Alex Simmons are also remarkably efficient in the post turning rebounds into points. Laney's Paulette Addison and Brianna Baham are also shooting 45 percent or better from the field.

Trask's Rasheed Brown has had a 40-point game, West Brunswick's Gray Cheers scored 28, New Hanover's Trevon Brown has poured in 25, Nik Sloan is averaging 18.6 points per game for North Brunswick as well. Ashley girls Felicity Havens and Breanna Edwards have both lit up the scoreboard even in early games as well.

So keep an eye on those names and teams and ideas, hopefully they'll be apparent in the holiday tournaments.