1. Ardrey Kell (4-1)
This team blew out its first three opponents, unraveling Marvin Ridge and Weddington on the road and beating Myers Park at home. A two-point loss to Concord First Assembly in the opening round of the Charlotte Hoops Challenge was a bit of a surprise, although the Eagles are loaded with next-level talent. Maybe more surprising was how the Knights took down Mallard Creek by 10 points, a team many consider to be the toast of the 4A teams. Ardrey Kell has proven they’re in the mix to stay and this team hasn’t come close to hitting its stride just yet.
2. South Meck (3-1)
The Sabres are coming off their first loss of the season – a four-point defeat at the hands of Providence Day – but have some impressive early wins over Vance, Rocky River and Butler. Jadin Gladden, A’Leah Gilbert. Shariah Gaddy and Naomi Gilbert all average double figure points, and if sophomore Shakira Harley and her running mates can keep up, this is the team that can challenge the Knights for the So. Meck 7 title and be a force all season long.
3. Butler (1-1)
Butler came into this season as kind of an unknown, but the Bulldogs have shown they still have some bite. They fell behind South Meck by five points after the first quarter, but played them even the rest of the way in an eight-point loss. The Bulldogs then shocked private school power Providence Day 56-50 at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge. Michela Lane (12.5 points, 11 rebounds) and Michaela Dixon (11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds) have been really good to start the season. If Butler can get more of a supporting cast, they could challenge once again for the Southwestern 4A title.
4. Providence Day (3-2)
The Chargers don’t have the dominant post player of years past and may not be as talented as they have been, but this is a tradition-rich program with one of the state’s top coaches who won’t settle for excuses. They’ve already lost to Legacy Charter and Butler, but a win over South Meck speaks to how good they can be. Kennedy Boyd is averaging 22.5 points and Andi Levitz is scoring 10.3 points per game. They’ll need some help, but that could certainly be a championship nucleus.
5. Charlotte Latin (0-1)
I expected this was the year the Hawks could make a serious run at Providence Day and maybe even overtake them in the CISAA. They have a very small sample size with only a blowout loss to Greensboro Day on the books so far. But this team, with Ruthie Jones, Claudia Dickey and Kathryn Vandiver is too talented to have any lower than this. It will be a great season from the Hawks before all is said and done.
6. Charlotte Catholic (2-0)
More questions than answers surrounded this team coming into the season, but the Cougars are 2-0 after blowout wins over Charlotte Christian and Country Day. They have a tougher road coming up in the next couple of weeks, but are getting solid production from their starting five – and Dane Bertolina (12.5 points) and Clara Fiat (10.0 points) in particular. They could challenge in their new Southern Carolinas Conference home, but they should be better than expected either way.
7. Independence (3-2)
This is no typo as the Patriots are for real. This team won eight games last year – its most since the 2008-09 season – and have come out of the gates with impressive wins over Northwest Cabarrus, Olympic and Central Cabarrus. They made the finals of the Leroy Holden tournament, but aren’t yet on host North Meck’s level. Still, coach Lauren Galvani deserves tons of credit and watch out for freshman Braylyn Milton (14.2 points, six rebounds per game) and junior Sharonda Smith (14 points) as the Patriots look to continue to impress.
Note: Records are through Nov. 28.