Opinion: Local basketball teams have positives to build on for next year
Another high school basketball season has come and gone. For most of our area teams, it was a profitable year with a foundation built for the future. Others are just happy to see the spring sports season arrive.
East Davidson's girls survived the longest of anyone, making a trip to the state regional semifinals before a 62-42 loss to talented Bandys. While expectations were much higher for the Golden Eagles, it was a season filled with many positives. They went 24-4, running the table in the Central Carolina Conference regular season to win the championship. After a loss in the CCC tournament finals to North Rowan, East proceeded to reel off three convincing wins before Tuesday's loss to the Trojans.
The Eagles will lose three starters next season, but have a strong foundation in point guard Madi Hallman and post player Bayley Plummer returning. With a strong feeder program at Brown Middle School, the Eagles should continue their winning ways the next couple of seasons.
The Thomasville girls had a roller-coaster season in 2013-14. They got off to a strong start, only to sputter late in the conference season. After losing star point guard Joslyn Spires to graduation, the Lady Bulldogs struggled to find a consistent floor general. With an embarrassing loss to East in the league tournament, it appeared that THS had lost its focus and the season. But head coach Brandon Staton pulled them back together. They won their first two games in the playoffs before losing on the road at East Rutherford. Thomasville will lose prolific scorer Jashana Thomas, but have a core of key contributors coming back led by sharpshooter Christina Coleman.
With the departure of longtime head coach John Ralls, Ledford's girls entered the year with plenty of questions. New coach Chris Doby had all the right answers. Though undersized most nights, the Lady Panthers used their basketball IQ to get the job done. Julia Carroll and Courtney Callicutt raised their games to a higher level, helping bring the school both regular season and conference tournament titles. LHS received a high seed for the playoffs, making it to the second round where they suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the year came from the other team in Wallburg. The Ledford boys had their best season in more than a decade, tying with North Forsyth to gain a share of the Mid-Piedmont Conference crown. With two talents like Skylar McGee and Brandon Rothrock leading the way, it is easy to see why the Panthers were so successful. McGee could do it all, scoring inside and stepping out beyond the 3-point line. Rothrock is one of the purest shooters in the state. When left open, he made the opposition pay. Anywhere across the timeline was within range for the long bomber. The Panthers were also eliminated in the second round by Concord.
Another team with a new head coach was the Thomasville boys. Gil Maxwell laid a solid foundation his first year, guiding the Bulldogs to a 9-13 record. They will lose several players to graduation, but a good crop of players remain. The Bulldogs will come back next season already knowing the new system. It might not be long before THS becomes one of the elite programs in the state once more.
It was a rough year for the East boys. Head coach Matt Jacobs referred to his team as, 'a bunch of football players trying to play basketball.' At times it looked exactly like that. They managed just three wins, but kept a good attitude and played hard every night. The talent was just not there for the Eagles this season.