High school basketball playoffs feature plenty of storylines

Undefeated teams, top college prospects look to cut down nets

Kinston High Principal Angela Bryant dances at the school’s pep rally to celebrate the girls and boys basketball teams reaching the state championship game in 2013. Kinston is the last school to win both boys and girls titles in the same year, a feat being attempted this year by Farmville Central. Both of the Jaguars’ teams are undefeated heading into the postseason. (Janet S. Carter / Daily Free Press via AP)

Dean Smith used to like to say, “Basketball is not an undefeated sport.”

The Hall of Fame UNC coach said that, unlike football, basketball teams had to play multiple times a week, from late fall to early spring. They were much more likely to have an off night and suffer an upset loss.

Tell that to the teams at the top of the NCHSAA playoff brackets.

A half-dozen schools — two boys teams and four girls — enter the boys and girls playoffs with perfect records. That includes Farmville Central, whose boys are 26-0 and the top seed in the East in boys 2A. The girls are also the East’s top seed in 2A with a 22-0 record.

The Jaguars are the favorites to take home boys and girls titles in the same season — something that’s only been done 11 times by nine schools in North Carolina high school history and just once in the last decade (Kinston, 2013).

The women, in particular, have their hands full. Two of the other undefeated girls’ teams are also in 2A — N.C. School of Science and Math (29-0, No. 4 in the East) and Mountain Heritage (23-0, No. 1 in the West).

Here are some other storylines to follow as we prepare for the playoffs.

The undefeateds

The Farmville Central boys open with Providence Grove, who, at 11-13, is one of 96 teams with a .500 or losing record in the playoffs (48 boys teams, 48 girls). No. 2 Greene Central and No. 3 Goldsboro will be the biggest challenge in the East. In the West, top seed East Lincoln (25-2) and two-seed Forest Hills (24-2), the defending state champions, are the top contenders.

Southwest Guilford finished the regular season at 26-0 and will be top seed in the West in 3A. The Cowboys are led by the brother tandem of Kobe and Keyshaun Langley, seniors who are headed to UNCG next year. Defending champion Cox Mill (24-2) is the two-seed. In the East, 25-1 Hillside is on top, followed by second-seeded Northern Nash (24-1).

In addition to the three undefeateds packing the girls 2A bracket, East two-seed Bertie (23-2) and West No. 2 Salisbury (22-4) are worth watching.

The only other girls’ undefeated is Weldon, 21-0 but only a six-seed in the girls 1A East. Pamlico County (23-2) and East Carteret (18-3) are atop their region, while the West features East Surry (22-2) and Avery County (18-6).

Other top seeds

In Boys 1A, the top seed in the East is 22-2 Washington County, followed by Henderson Collegiate (26-2). The West is led by defending state champion Winston-Salem Prep (21-4), whose senior guard Chaz Gwynn is one of state’s top prospects, and Community School of Davidson (24-3).

In 4A, Millbrook (24-1) gets the top spot in the East, followed by Wakefield (22-4). In the West, North Mecklenburg (22-3) is the top seed, led by Tristan Maxwell, one of the top junior prospects in the state. Defending state champion Independence (21-6) is the two-seed.

On the girls’ side, the top seed in the 3A East is E.E. Smith (26-1), led by Wake Forest signee Alexandra Scruggs. They’ll have to get past No. 2 Southeast Guilford (22-3) and the West’s top teams: Erwin (26-1) and Freedom (26-1).

In 4A, the top seeds are Wakefield (25-1) in the East and Zebulon B. Vance (25-2) in the West. The No. 2 seeds are Southeast Raleigh (21-5) and West Forsyth (22-3).

Defending champions

On the boys’ side, all four of last year’s state champions are either one or two seeds. The girls’ champs fell further. State 4A champion Northwest Guilford is in the best spot, at No. 3 in the West. 3A champ Northern Guilford is at No. 21. 2A winner North Pitt is 22nd, and 1A’s Mount Airy is No. 10.

Future college stars

In addition to the Langley twins, the boys 3A brackets feature several top college prospects. Ricky Council IV is a highly rated junior, but his Northern Durham squad is just 10-16, a No. 29 seed. Silas Mason, another top-10 junior, is with No. 19 Ben L. Smith (13-12).

Cox Mill, the two-seed in the West, has two committed seniors in Wendell Moore (Duke) and Caleb Stone-Carrawell (Charlotte).

In addition to Maxwell in 4A, FSU signee Patrick Williams leads sixth-seeded West Charlotte (20-6). East No. 5 Holly Springs (19-4) features Virginia signee Kadin Shedrick. No. 3 South Central has junior Day’Ron Sharpe, who has committed to UNC.

On the women’s side, outside of Scruggs, the prospect to watch is likely Nia Daniels. The UNC signee is on 4A West 10-seed Hickory Ridge (22-4).