From the Sideline

Column: No surprises for favored teams

January 24, 2014 

The eastern Wake County basketball games on Jan. 17 were relatively close, but the outcomes weren’t very shocking.

The East Wake girls and Knightdale boys held off two much improved teams to win, like they have a vast majority of the games in the series in recent years.

In girls’ action, East Wake entered the game as the No. 5 team in the News & Observer standings, facing the No. 8 team from Knightdale. They maintained those positions despite the Warriors’ win over the Knights.

The 48-38 outcome gave East Wake a one-game edge over Knightdale in the Greater Neuse River 4A standings, the Warriors improving to 5-1 while the Knights fell to 5-2.

Knightdale’s boys were ranked eighth and East Wake’s ninth before the Knights’ 77-66 victory. Knightdale (13-3, 6-1 GNRC after the win) moved up to the N&O’s No. 6 spot last week and East Wake (10-5, 3-3) stepped down to No. 11.

I expected that game to be decided by single digits, and it might have, had East Wake not experienced foul trouble at the top of its lineup with Quincy Jackson and Nahjuwan Potts. Knightdale also faced some foul issues in the final minutes, but it didn’t keep both of the Knights’ scoring leaders off the court.

Knightdale girls guard Mikaya Wilson remained the area leader in assists (5.3 per game) and steals (3.8) and moved into the top-8 in scoring with 16.4 points per outing.

Knightdale boys guard Ronshad Allen-Shabazz was second in the area in scoring (23.2 points per game) after the win over East Wake, ahead of Northern Durham’s Ricky Council (23.1) and trailing Clayton star Gary Clark (25.8).

East Wake had two boys players on the list of top scorers as of last week – Jackson with 17.5 points per game and Potts with 15.7.

East Wake boys’ guards Kyle Lockett (2.9 assists per game) and Josh McLean (1.7 steals) were also in the top-4 in the area in those categories.

Knightdale’s boys and East Wake’s girls face significant conference games this week.

The Knights travel to Clayton on Tuesday for a rematch with the only Greater Neuse team they lost to in the first half of league play. They’ll have to find a way to do something few teams have done this season – limit Clark.

Clayton won the teams’ first meeting of the season 79-72 in December. Clark, a Cincinatti recruit, had 34 points in that game.

East Wake’s girls are in the same boat as they face a rematch against Southeast Raleigh on Friday. The Bulldogs gave the Warriors their only loss of the first conference cycle by a score of 53-39 in December.

The Warriors will have home court advantage this time around. That may help the girls come out focused, unlike their start in the loss at Southeast.

The Bulldogs virtually had the first meeting won by halftime after holding the Warriors to a 5-point first quarter.

There’s more on the line than just the chance to stun the top team in the league for the second-place East Wake’s girls.

Southeast has won the last eight games of the series. East Wake’s last win over the Bulldogs was Jan. 4, 2011, by a score of 50-42.

Moody: 919-829-4806 or amoody@newsobserver.com

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