In what many consider the deepest conference in Charlotte, the competition at the top is as tight as ever. There’s a four-way tie at the top of the boys standings, and four teams are within two games of each other on the girls side. Hopewell is the lone unbeaten in conference play in girls action, with just one loss overall on the season. On the boys side of things, every team at the top is led by a bona fide star.
Mecka Boys Standings
1. North Mecklenburg (14-1, 4-1)
2. West Charlotte (11-2, 4-1)
3. Hough (11-4, 4-1)
4. Jay M. Robinson (11-3, 4-1)
5. Mallard Creek (5-10, 2-3)
6. Vance (5-9, 1-4)
7. A.L. Brown (4-7, 1-4)
8. Hopewell (5-8, 0-5)
Hough (11-4) at North Mecklenburg (14-1)
If you like big-time matchups, this might be the biggest game in the state, with UNC-bound Luke Maye paying a visit to North Meck’s all-world star CJ Bryce. Maye does it all for the Huskies, who are looking to get back in the win column after a tough home loss to West Charlotte. Maye’s talent is evident, given his outstanding 21.3 PPG and 14.1 RPG, both tops in the conference. Behind Maye, freshman Qon Murphy has been a bright spot, scoring 8.7 points per game.
In the first Ambassador Hand-picked Game of the Week, North Meck took its first loss of the year, a 61-57 thriller against Robinson. Allow me to be the first to offer an olive branch to North Meck Nation, we brought some bad mojo to Viking land. Our bad. Duane Lewis’ team didn’t let the loss linger, torching Vance in a 75-55 win Friday night. CJ Bryce carried the Vikings to a No. 1 ranking in the state following a victory over Centerville (OH) in the Arby’s Classic. The Vikings’ combo of Bryce and Taj Middleton give North Meck one of the better 1-2 punches in the powerful Mecka.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: North Meck 67, Hough 55
Mallard Creek (5-10) at Jay M. Robinson (11-3)
Mallard Creek started the season on the wrong foot, but it appears the Mavericks are starting to turn the corner. The Mavs have won three of their last four before a loss to A.L. Brown. Ken Gorham has put Mallard Creek on his back, scoring 10.6 points per game, while also leading the team with 12.4 rebounds per game. The schedule won’t get any easier for Mallard Creek, with conference games against North Meck and West Charlotte looming next week.
After upsetting then-No. 1 North Meck, Robinson pulled out a 67-66 close one over Hopewell on Friday. The youthful Bulldogs have rallied around first-year head coach Lavar Batts, Sr. Robinson’s top scorer is super sophomore Lavar Batts, Jr., who averages 18.3 points per game. Robinson’s ability to get quality points from the rest of their lineup has been a huge benefit for the up and coming team, with three other players averaging double figures. Junior Daniel Spencer doesn’t receive a ton of credit, but his hard work in the paint helps his supporting cast in ways that don’t necessarily show up on the scoreboard. With a young core of players returning next year, Robinson has a chance to leave 4A with a conference title in hand.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Jay M. Robinson 73, Mallard Creek 61
Hopewell 63, Vance 61
West Charlotte 74, A.L. Brown 51
Mecka Girls Standings
1. Hopewell (13-1, 5-0)
2. Jay M. Robinson (10-3, 4-1)
3. Hough (10-3, 3-2)
4. Mallard Creek (11-4, 3-2)
5. West Charlotte (6-9, 2-3)
6. A.L. Brown (8-3, 2-3)
7. Vance (3-7, 0-4)
8. North Mecklenburg (7-6, 0-4)
Mallard Creek (11-4) at Jay M. Robinson (10-3)
The Mallard Creek Lady Mavs are one of the hottest teams around, having won 9 of their last 11 games, including five in a row. Mallard Creek’s defense has been sharp in those games, allowing an average of just 43 points per game. Kala Brown has done a good job for Mallard Creek, averaging 9.1 points per game. With conference losses to Hopewell and Hough, Mallard Creek knows a loss against Robinson will put a gigantic dent in their conference championship hopes.
After notching six-straight wins, the Robinson Lady Bulldogs have come back down to earth as of late, losing two of their last three. One of those losses was back on December 30, when Weddington topped Robinson in the PDQ Classic finals. The Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker at Hopewell on Friday, their first loss in Mecka play. The Bulldogs have responded well to losses this season, never dropping two games in a row. They’ll need a big game from forward Kelsi Mahoney if that streak will continue. Mahoney, who reached 1,000 career points, is on her way to 1,000 career rebounds. Robinson’s backcourt tandem of Brittany Vaughters and Sydni Bickford give Lin Smithson’s team consistency and experience when they need a shot.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: Jay M. Robinson 53, Mallard Creek 47
West Charlotte (6-9) at A.L. Brown (8-3)
With last week’s 10-point loss at Hough, the Lady Lions have now dropped four out of five. Despite struggling to find W’s, West Charlotte’s Jessica Gaston has put together some solid individual performances, and her double-double average is proof of that. Gaston is currently averaging 13.7 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per contest. Freshman O’marri Holland has had no problem lighting up the scoreboard, putting up an average of 11.2 points per game.
A.L. Brown coach Mike Wolford has had no problem getting his girls to rebound from an ugly 2013, already topping last season’s win total. A 7-0 start has been put in the rearview, with the Lady Wonders losing three of four coming into Friday’s contest. Senior Aitana Grant has put the big K on her shoulders, scoring 13.8 points per game this season. Sophomore Shemya Stanback has taken care of business in the paint, grabbing 9.1 rebounds per game for the Wonders.
USA TODAY High School Sports Predictor: West Charlotte 50, A.L. Brown 47
Hough 58, North Meck 52
Hopewell 58, Vance 37