Being undefeated at this stage of the basketball season is nothing to scoff at. But it’s even more impressive for the McDowell girls (11-0).
Their schedule has included three games against one of the team’s biggest rivals (Morganton Freedom) and another versus defending NCHSAA 2-A champion Kinston.
Not to mention the Titans recently lost valued post player Kylee Lenon for the season to a knee injury.
“I am super proud of this group,” McDowell coach Jennifer Brooks said. “They have really come together as a family and had each other’s backs. And then to see them come together and accomplish what they did over the Christmas break was tremendous.”
The Titans beat tournament host Freedom, 51-49, in Saturday’s championship game of a three-day holiday event in Morganton.
Markia Stacey was named the tourney’s most valuable player after amassing 42 points, 34 assists and 20 steals in three games for McDowell.
Stacey is a junior and the only returning All-Mountain Athletic Conference player for the Titans. Stacey (13.3 points per game) is one of three players, including Karly McRary (14.3 ppg.) and Aryonna Noblitt (11.3 ppg.), averaging double figures.
“Beating the teams we have has really done a lot for our confidence,” said Stacey, who is also dishing out an area-best 9.7 assists a game.
“We just try to come out every night and play the way we usually do. Win or lose, either way we’re still a team.”
Lenon, Noblitt and Megan Morris are the team’s only three seniors.
“This team really has good chemistry and that’s a big part of why we’ve done so well,” Noblitt said. “(Being undefeated) means a lot. But it means more that we’re not playing easy teams.”
Leading rebounders for McDowell are Riley Smith (5.9 per game), Noblitt (4.6 rpg.) and Stacey (4.4 rpg.). Noblitt (3.2), Stacey (3.1) and Kassie Brackett (3.1) each make three or more steals a game.
The Titans are 1-0 in the MAC and return home tonight to play defending 4-A regular season champion Roberson (7-4, 0-0).
“We had a good practice (Thursday) and went over everything we need to do,” McRary said. “Roberson is going to be tough, they are always tough. But we’re looking forward to this game.”
Hayesville (9-0) is believed to be the only other undefeated girls basketball team in WNC.