Here is the original preview we published earlier this week for the Asheville High-Erwin boys basketball game, with modifications made for the schedule changes that have occurred since then:
Hold the phone, it looks like a Mountain Athletic 3-A Conference tournament in boys basketball may get to happen after all.
That was a running joke over the weekend in light of the brackets being released for the NCHSAA playoffs.
But it’s no laughing matter now.
No. 26 Asheville High (11-10) and seventh-seeded Erwin (18-7) are paired against one another in Friday’s first round.
Tip-off is set for about 5:30 p.m. on the Warriors’ floor after the completion of a NCHSAA 3-A girls game between No. 4 Erwin (23-1) and No. 29 West Rowan (10-14) at 4.
The winner of Friday’s Asheville-Erwin boys gets either No. 23 North Henderson (13-12) or No. 10 North Buncombe (20-4), who play Friday at 4 in Weaverville.
“We’re excited to be in the playoffs, that is a privilege in itself,” Cougars boys coach Sonita Warren-Dixon said.
“You know that when you get in the playoffs, you are going to play good teams. It was just the luck of the draw that we got (Erwin) this year. Collectively, everyone is going to have to do what they do well to give us a chance to win this game. The only thing that bothers me is that one of the rewards of getting in the playoffs is that you get to play someone different. I’m sure it’s the same way for them.”
The MAC 3-A was one of four Western North Carolina conference basketball tournaments to be canceled last week by inclement weather.
Co-regular season champions Erwin and North Buncombe received special permission from Buncombe County Schools to play last Friday’s tiebreaker game for the No. 1 state playoff seed at Reynolds (a 79-67 win for the Warriors).
Erwin trailed at halftime of its Feb. 13 win at Asheville, 93-80, and beat the visiting Cougars, 90-74, on Jan. 20.
“(Asheville) is really good, especially for a first-round opponent,” Warriors coach David Rhoney said.
“They played us well in both games and we expect nothing less this time. We’re expecting a battle (Tuesday) night and I am sure we are going to get one. The big thing is we are going to have to stay sharp in the playoffs from Day 1 to be successful.”
The Cougars are led in scoring (18.2 points per game) and rebounds (7.0) by Mars Hill football recruit Cameron Ray. Damon Scott averages 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 steals a night, while Davauris Morgan pulls down 4.8 rebounds.
The Warriors get double figures on any given night from Malik Moore (18.1 ppg.), Alic Wynn (15.5 ppg.) and Brennan Howard (12.4 ppg.). Wynn (9.2) and Jeremiah Jackson (8.5) rank second in rebounds, followed by Moore (8.4) and Tarique Wynn (4.2).
Colby Maltry sets up much of Erwin’s scoring with 5.1 assists per game, while Moore is distributing an average of 3.8. Moore (3.5) and Maltry (2.5) are first and second in steals.
It’s been 10 years since the last NCHSAA basketball championship won ” style=”vertical-align: text-bottom;”>by a WNC boys team (Pisgah in 2-A) and eight years since the last one in girls (Smoky Mountain in 2-A).