The rush of the holidays from Thanksgiving through the New Year always seems to fly by, especially with young children and my family’s annual road trips to (not-so) sunny Syracuse, N.Y.
It’s the same way for many of our hoops teams, who played in tournaments over the holidays. Some were local, but many others were held from Florida to Georgia and everywhere in between.
As we close the book on 2019, here’s a rundown of where we stand on the hardwood when games tipped off this week.
• Biggest surprise: Cuthbertson. The Cavs really struggled to start the season as they opened the year with an 0-6 record. Since, they’ve gone 6-2 and are just one game out of the conference lead. Star JP Haggarty and the Cavs will have to keep this momentum going through a tough league, but they’re off to a nice start.
• Watch out for: Sun Valley. Led by Justin Morton’s 15.4 points per game, the Spartans have four senior starters who average double figures and three or more others who play big minutes nightly. Coach Keith Mason is a great X’s and O’s guy, and with this many players so familiar with his system, expect them to stay in the mix.
• Breakout star: Kyle Frazier, Weddington. After averaging 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds as a freshman last season, Frazier is averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds this year. His jump, along with fellow super-soph Chase Lowe, have the Warriors atop the standings for now.
Weddington (9-4, 4-0)
Charlotte Catholic (9-3, 3-1)
Cuthbertson (6-8, 3-1)
Sun Valley (9-6, 2-2)
Marvin Ridge (4-9, 1-3)
Piedmont (3-10, 1-3)
Monroe (2-5, 1-3)
Parkwood (1-9, 1-3)
• Biggest surprise: Forest Hills. The Yellow Jackets graduated Union County’s most decorated senior class last season after a wonderful four-year run. This season, Alec Topper, Dilon Wright and Jalen Huntley have the Jackets right on that level. Their start is also a testament to coach Matt Sides, one of the best in the biz.
• Watch out for: Porter Ridge. Coach Garrett Malone is in turnaround mode with the Pirates in just his second season. Last year Malone led the Pirates to a 12-12 record – their only non-losing record in the past 10 years. Junior point guard Marcus Willis averages over 18 points per game and is among the county’s top players.
• Breakout star: Camden Johnson, Metrolina Christian. Johnson averaged about six points per game as a freshman last season but has flourished this year. He’s the Warriors’ leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points and five rebounds per game, and seems to have a bright future.
Forest Hills (12-0, 1-0)
CATA (0-12, 0-2)
Metrolina Christian (7-11, 1-3)
Union Academy (7-3, 1-0)
Porter Ridge (7-6, 1-2)
• Biggest surprise: Parkwood. The Rebels won just four games last season but have turned the corner under second-year coach Jesse Boyce. Parkwood is led by sophomore Shimiya Taylor and freshman Jade Washington, but with their supporting cast, the Rebels are back to being relevant in league play.
• Watch out for: Weddington. Charlotte Catholic and Cuthbertson duked it out in the league standings last season, but there are new players this year including the Warriors. Led by Karrah Katzbach, one of the conference’s top talents, this team has some staying power for the second half of the season.
• Breakout star: Regan Iovino, Cuthbertson. The freshman has added another dimension to the Western Regional champs with her long-range shooting. Iovino is averaging 11.3 points while shooting 47% from 3-point range.
Cuthbertson (12-1, 4-0)
Charlotte Catholic (8-3, 3-1)
Parkwood (10-4, 3-1)
Weddington (10-2, 2-2)
Marvin Ridge (6-5, 2-2)
Piedmont (5-4, 1-3)
Sun Valley (4-11, 1-4)
Monroe (0-7, 0-4)
• Biggest surprise: CATA. The Cougars already have four wins in 2019, which is a sign that times are changing. CATA hasn’t won more than four games since 2014-15, but freshmen Zoie Jordan and Sarah Gamble have them ready to far succeed that in 2020.
• Watch out for: Forest Hills. Last season, coach Marc Richardson led the Yellow Jackets to 17 wins, their most since 2012-13. They started 2019 with a 1-4 record, but have been playing much better of late behind stars Hope Benson and freshman Jamyah Blakeney.
• Breakout star: Jyana Salton, Porter Ridge. The freshman point guard is having an immediate impact for the Pirates. This year, she leads the team with 12.3 points per game, but does everything well as evidenced by Salton’s 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.0 assists per game.
Forest Hills (5-6, 1-0)
CATA (4-6, 1-0)
Metrolina Christian (5-9, 3-1)
Union Academy (6-4, 1-0)
Porter Ridge (4-8, 1-2)