Reynolds Wraps Up MAC Hoops Titles - TribPapers

Reynolds Wraps Up MAC Hoops Titles

“Masher” Asher Cunningham (33) is a strong force for Reynolds and passes well, too. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Fairview – A.C. Reynolds boys and girls squads both convincingly won Mountain Athletic Conference basketball titles last week.

Rocket boys won the MAC regular season by three games with an unbeaten mark of 12-0. They are 19-4 overall. They closed their regular season Friday with their 12th win in a row — a  70-59 triumph over fourth-place McDowell (11-10; 6-6 MAC) at home. Enka (21-3; 9-3) and T.C. Roberson (16-6; 9-3) are next best in the league. TCR edged MHS 53-50 Saturday.

Earlier last week, Reynolds squeaked by arch-rival Roberson 50-48 in overtime on Feb. 8. That snapped a five-game Ram win streak. TCR slowed the pace and led 10-5 after one period and led 26-19 at halftime. ACR outdid TCR 14-11 in the third, 11-7 in a grinding fourth period, then 6-4 in overtime.

In contrast, in another showdown the Rockets lit up the scoreboard and reached the centennial mark for the only time thus far in this season. ACR beat runner-up Enka by 20 at 103-83 on Jan. 25. Reynolds foiled Jet hopes to reach first place. The Rockets scored 34 points in the third period — for a pace of 136 total points. That victory was also at ACR.

Next, the Rockets blasted two foes on the road. They took care of Asheville (1-20; 0-12) by 68-35, then Erwin (3-16; 2-10) by 70-18 in what seemed more of a football score. ACR beat North Buncombe (10-12; 4-8) by 77-50 on Feb. 3.

The Rockets win by an average score of 72 to 53.5. Their head coach is Ryan Stevens.

Super sophomore wing player Rakease Passmore paces ACR at 18.2 points per game. As Coach Stevens notes, there is strong complimentary scoring in this lineup with two new starters. Jayden Harper (13.0), a junior, ignites the offense as a point guard. He is shining in his debut ACR season, after playing for Owen then Asheville Christian Academy. Freshman Declan Brown (10.2 ppg.) also averages in double digits, with junior Dashawn Stone (9.5) near that level.

Long-distance bomber Chad Clark scored 26 points to lead North Buncombe past Erwin 69-65 on Friday. Clark, a junior guard, leads MAC players in scoring at 24.7 points overall all games. Next are TCR’s Josh Lowe (19.6), Enka’s Jacob Tiller (19.3), Enka’s Ian Clinkscales-King (15.5), Harper, McDowell’s Mason Lamb (12.4) and Josh Smith (11.6), Enka’s Logan Crook (11.2), Asheville’s William Edgens (10.6), Enka’s Jacob Adair (10.5), ACR’s Brown, and Jandon Robbins (10.0) of MHS.

Enka pummeled West Henderson 90-57 on Jan. 7. Four Jets scored at least 15 points — center Clinkscales-King 18, Tiller 17, Adair 17 and Crook 15.

Lady Rockets

Reynolds Lady Rockets (19-3, 11-1 MAC) beat cellar dweller McDowell (6-16; 1-11) by 57-45 Friday, pulling away late in the contest. The league was a two-team race. North Buncombe (16-6) finished two games back at 9-3. Next were TCR (15-7; 6-6), Asheville (12-6; 6-6), defending champ Enka (11-13; 5-7), Erwin (11-11; 4-8) and MHS. Erwin, though, is the sole MAC team to beat ACR thanks to a 52-42 win Feb. 2.

Reynolds defeated runner-up North Buncombe 72-62 on the road Dec. 14, and 66-43 at home Feb. 3. ACR beat TCR on back-to-back days Feb. 7-8 — first 45-36 away, then 57-40 at home as Jenna Barnes scored 12 and Hailey Sprinkle 11. Lady Ram E.P. Sluder scored 14.

Coach Amanda Whitaker’s Lady Rockets have tremendous scoring balance, with all five starters among MAC scoring leaders. They are junior power forward Barnes (13.4), freshman point guard Payton Harvey (10.6), junior wing Landyn Stewart (8.5), sophomore shooting guard Julie Janus (8.1) and senior forward Sprinkle (7.1).

Enka forwards Bentlee Chockley (20.9), a senior, and junior Hadleigh Dills (17.0) are scoring leaders. Dill scored 29, Chockley 22 and Gracie Merrell 15 in an 80-51 win over West Henderson Feb. 7. Enka averaged 55 points but gave up that many points.

The top two MAC teams are similar in their average scores with ACR at 58-44 and NBHS at 55.6-44.

Area conference tournaments are this week. State playoffs start next week.

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