While the local boys’ basketball squads already have a few exhibition games in the books over the past few weeks, Stanly County’s five girls’ teams will begin playing this week. Here is a look at the five local high schools and their prospects for the 2020-21 season.
West Stanly Colts (Rocky River Conference 2A/3A)
Over the past two seasons, third-year coach Chad Horn and the Colts have solidified themselves as the second-best girls’ hoops team in the RRC with back-to-back 7-3 conference records. West Stanly posted a 14-4 overall record in 2018-19 followed by a 16-11 effort last season.
The dominant Forest Hills Yellow Jackets have countered with 20 consecutive conference victories and 35 wins over the past two years. The Yellow Jackets were also the team that defeated West Stanly, 61-42, in last year’s conference tournament championship just two days after the Colts took down Montgomery Central (5-20, 2-8 RRC) in the first round.
Four days later, a 53-42 loss to West Wilkes (19-7, 11-3 Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference) knocked the Colts out of the first round of 2A state playoffs.
The Colts are returning an experienced roster this year that includes senior guards Rachel Efird, Addie Barbee and Kailey Furr, as well as junior power forward Ashlyn Hughes.
North Stanly Comets (Yadkin Valley Conference 1A)
Now in his 12th year as the Comets’ coach, Greg Speights and his 2021 team are looking to improve upon last year’s 8-14 season that saw them lose all six of their nonconference matchups and finish in the middle of the pack in conference play.
Uwharrie Charter Academy (18-10, 11-5 YVC) and John A. Holmes (23-7, 8-2 Albemarle Athletic 1A Conference) each eliminated the Comets from the first rounds of the YVC playoffs and state playoffs, respectively.
The Comets were set to travel to West Stanly, a familiar nonconference foe, to begin their 2021 campaign on Tuesday. North’s home opener will be Jan. 15 when the Comets battle the Gray Stone Day Knights, followed by a Jan. 22 home game against South Davidson.
South Stanly Rebel Bulls (Yadkin Valley Conference 1A)
After an 8-18 effort in 2018-19 and a 4-21 record last year, the Bulls are seeking their first winning campaign in over a decade.
After opening the 2019-20 season with 13 consecutive losses, South closed its regular season with a win over Albemarle (9-16, 7-9 YVC). In a nine-point loss that would have been a major upset, the Bulls nearly knocked off North Rowan (20-9, 13-3 YVC) in the first round of the YVC tournament.
The Bulls did not receive a bid for the 1A state playoffs, but new coach Sean Whitley is hoping to change that in 2021. His squad will feature junior guards Kalea LeGrande and Jacy Noble, as well as senior forward Sadie Lee.
South’s season will kick off Wednesday when Montgomery Central comes to town in a nonconference showdown. It could be a winnable game against the Timberwolves, who only won five out of their 25 games as a member of the Rocky River Conference last season.
Albemarle Bulldogs (Yadkin Valley Conference 1A)
Although coach Eric Davis has put together five winning seasons in his seven years leading the Bulldogs, his 2019-20 squad managed only a 9-16 record (7-9 in YVC play) — quite the change of pace from Davis’ 2018-19 squad (26-3, 16-0) that led the entire conference.
The Bulldogs’ inexperience could rear its head again this season. Davis’ roster boasts only one senior and one junior, and the rest of Albemarle’s youthful group is made up of 11 sophomores and freshmen.
Albemarle’s opens the season Jan. 8 at home against Montgomery Central, travels to Cabarrus Charter Academy on Jan. 12, and opens conference play at Uwharrie Charter Academy on Jan. 15.
Gray Stone Day Knights (Yadkin Valley Conference 1A)
Coach Robert Stack has a remarkable six-year streak of 20-plus-win seasons with the Knights, who have become a perennial frontrunner in the YVC.
Last year, the Knights (25-2, 15-1) advanced to the third round of state playoffs, falling to East Surry (20-6, 9-1 Northwest 1A Conference) in a 65-44 loss. Gray Stone could still hold its head high though; the Knights claimed the YVC regular season championship and then the conference tournament championship with a 61-52 win over North Rowan (20-9, 13-3 YVC).
While last year’s Knights boasted seven seniors, the 2021 team will be younger. Still, Gray Stone has found ways to succeed year in and year out since Stack took over as coach.
The Knights’ season begins at home against South Davidson on Jan. 12, followed by road matchups with North Stanly on Jan. 15 and North Moore four days later.