Four teams pace the premier WMAC in boys basketball — led by Rivals Reynolds and Roberson who meet Thursday night.
The current is a sizzling AC-TC as T.C. Roberson and A.C. Reynolds lead the pack in Western Mountain Athletic Conference boys basketball.
The two “CR” squads are tied atop the WMAC at 8-2, entering this week and their marquee showdown at ACR Thursday night.
The North schools — Henderson and Buncombe — are a mere game behind, at 7-3 in the WMAC. Tuscola is 5-5, Enka 4-6, Asheville 2-7, West Henderson 2-8, and Erwin 1-8. Teams are playing WMAC contests only.
Last season, ACR (13-3; 19-9 overall) beat out TCR by a game in the WMAC. Next were THS (10-6), NBHS (9-7), then West (7-9).
In the top two’s first clash this winter, Reynolds prevailed at Roberson by 53-50 on Jan. 15. This was as the Rockets won their first six games. But the race tightened as ACR lost at Tuscola by ten, then by two to Enka at home on Jan. 28.
The Rockets bounced back. They beat West by 15, then bombarded football rival Erwin by 39 points (73-44) last Thursday.
ACR next played at AHS on Tuesday, hosts TCR today/Thursday. Reynolds finishes the regular season against North Henderson on Tuesday, Feb. 16, then at North Buncombe on Friday, Feb. 19.
The Rockets are coached by Ryan Stevens. Their leading scorers are slick freshman Rakease Passmore (15.8 ppg.), and senior Malaki Carter and sophomore DaShaun Stone who each average ten points. Carter had 17 against West. Stone erupted for 17 points, in the pivotal win at TCR. Point guard Carter averages six assists three steals.
Asher Cunningham chips in with 9.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and Greyson Faircloth with seven points and nearly five boards per contest.
Roberson’s offense revolves around senior sensations Quinton Harris (17.3 ppg. 6.6 RPG.) and guard Spencer Cable (12.1 ppg., 4.1 RPG., 2 steals). Two Rams average nine points — Luke Ward and Matthew Pethel (also 5.7 RPG.). Point guard Braden Blakely, a junior, contributes 5.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 7.2 points.
Billy Phillips coaches the junior-heavy Rams. They won three in a row before the loss to ACR, then four straight before falling by five at NBHS on Feb. 2. Their victory margins have been 23, 20, 17, 15, 14, seven and five (over Enka last Thursday).
After playing at Reynolds, Roberson hosts Asheville on Friday, Feb. 12 and Tuscola next Tuesday, then plays a day later at West on Feb. 17.
Northbound Express Chugs On
We turn Northbound in the WMAC, so to speak. Coach Justin Parris’ North Henderson Knights twice won by a single point. They edged North Buncombe by a point at 57-56 at home on Jan. 18. That gives NHHS the tie-breaker over NBHS, pending their winding up the regular season at NBHS on Jan. 18.
North Henderson squeaked by Tuscola 47-46 at home last Friday, to avenge a season-opening defeat. The Knights were thrilled to slay their local arch-rival West Falcons by 14, by 60-46 at home on Jan. 13. They next play at West Thursday, Feb. 11, versus Enka Friday, then at ACR on Tuesday.
A trio of Knights are double-digit scorers: sophomore Micah Pierce (15.7), agile 6-foot-3 senior Zachriah “Z” McDaniel (12 ppg., 6.4 RPG.) and junior three-point gunner Braden Corn (11.4). Point guard Jaylen Croft, a junior, averages 5.5 assists, 3.2 steals, 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds.
North Buncombe Blackhawks are coached by Chuck Robinson. Senior Caleb Lominac averages a “double-double” at 15.3 points and 11.1 rebounds, to go with three assists. Other main stat contributors include seniors Walker Corbin (14.8 ppg., 3.6 assists) and 6-4 Bryce Payne (13 ppg., 7.8 RPG.), and sophomore point guard Chad Clark (9.2 ppg., 4.5 assists). Burly 6-9 junior center Dyllan Barnwell provides muscle off of the bench.
The Hawks scored 90 in OT to beat Enka by seven, and 83 to thrash Asheville by 20 Jan. 28. They won by ten at Enka Friday. The Hawks played at Erwin Tuesday, and go to Waynesville Friday. They finish at home against North Henderson on Feb. 18, then Reynolds on Friday, Feb. 19.
Enka sophomore point guard Jacob Adair (12.6 ppg.) had a career night with 31 points on Feb. 2, beating Erwin by 19. Brian Carver is Enka’s longtime head coach. His 5-11 daughter Emily Carver (27.1 ppg.) stars for the Sugar Jets, who lead the WMAC at 9-1. WMAC girls’ hoops teams will be the sports focus in the next Tribune edition.