MISENHEIMER –– After an inconsistent first half of the season, the North Stanly varsity basketball team is starting to fire on all cylinders at just the right time.
It wasn’t more apparent than in the Comets’ (9-7, 6-3) showdown with the Albemarle Bulldogs (6-11, 4-6) at Pfeiffer University on Friday night. In a previous matchup back on Dec. 13, the two teams played a competitive contest in which the Comets pulled out a 72-70 victory.
It was quite a different story for round two.
North Stanly got off to a quick start on offense and found itself up by 29 at halftime, eventually defeating the stunned Bulldogs by a score of 85-59.
“We knew coming in that we haven’t been shooting the ball too well,” said second-year head coach Paul Childress. “Obviously, that changed tonight. As far as our offense goes, we’ve been coming around all season. Every practice we get better and every game we get better.”
Dyson Bell, who is one of six sophomores on the Comets’ young but talented roster, led North Stanly with 21 points while senior Chamar Watkins added 14 and sophomore Koby Poole posted 13. It wasn’t merely a three-man show; 11 different Comets found themselves in the final box score.
“Everybody’s getting involved, and that’s a credit to our coaching staff,” said Childress. “We try to design plays to get everybody touches. We really stress ‘don’t be a prisoner to the play.’ These kids are buying in and really taking off, and we’re proud of them.”
With seven regular season games left, Childress is optimistic about his team’s chances of reaching a top-three spot in the Yadkin Valley Conference that would ensure a spot in 1A state playoffs.
Last season, North Stanly exceeded expectations by winning 19 games and advancing to the fourth round of playoffs — the furthest of any team in the conference. Though the Comets suffered a heartbreaking three-point loss to Bishop McGuinness, that postseason run set the blueprint for future success.
North Rowan (11-5, 9-1) currently occupies the top position in the conference while Chatham Central (13-4, 8-1) and South Stanly (12-5, 7-2) round out the top three. The Comets will travel to North Rowan for an important matchup this week.
“Let’s be realistic — we’re only four points out of first place,” said Childress. “South Stanly beat us by three and Chatham Central beat us by a point. If we won those two games, we’d be in first place. We’re really young, but those guys are playing hard and starting to believe in each other.”
Going forward, the Comets can build upon their record with two games against winless Gray Stone, as well as matchups with Uwharrie Charter Academy (6-8, 4-5) and North Moore (4-12, 2-6).
North Stanly’s upcoming games with the three conference heavyweights — North Rowan, Chatham Central and South Stanly — might be the ultimate deciding factor in its post-season fate.