The rush of the holidays from Thanksgiving through the new year always seems to fly by and especially so with young children and my family’s annual road trips to (not-so) sunny Syracuse, N.Y.
It’s the same way for many of our hoops teams, who played in tournaments over the holidays. Some were local, but many others were held far away.
As we close the book on 2019, here’s where we stood on the hardwood before games re-tipped this week.
Biggest surprise: Covenant Day. The Lions (10-4) are led by super freshman Aiden Holloway (15.6 points, 3.8 assists) and a strong supporting cast. Covenant Day is one of three teams in the league who have double-digit wins this season, but the Lions’ schedule hasn’t been the toughest. Conference play began Jan. 7 with a loss to Providence Day.
Watch out for: Providence Day. The Chargers have lost close games to Christ School, Ravenscroft and Greensboro Day and have big wins over Collins Hill (Ga.), West Forsyth and Wesleyan Christian. The Chargers are just starting to take form.
Breakout star: Knoah Carver, Country Day. An Ardrey Kell transfer, Carver has starred in coach Dwayne Cherry’s offense and is averaging 19.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. He’s scored in double figures every game this season and is averaging 24.4 points over his past five games.
Charlotte Latin (11-4)
Covenant Day (10-4)
Charlotte Christian (7-4)
Providence Day (7-7)
Country Day (7-7)
Biggest surprise: Harding. The Rams have some big wins over West Charlotte, Rocky River and Huss and have played a tough schedule to this point. They lost four of five last month, but have now won three straight. Harding went 11-15 last season.
Watch out for: Ardrey Kell. The Knights have always been a contender to win the conference, and sit in the top spot again heading into 2020. Coach Mike Craft gets the most out of his players every season, and he’s got a trio of stars to lean on this year to make the Knights dangerous.
Breakout Star: Davidson Hubbard, Ardrey Kell. On a senior-heavy team last year, Hubbard averaged 2.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. This season, as a full-time starter, the 6-5 senior is flourishing as he averages 14.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and over a block per game.
Ardrey Kell (11-3, 3-0)
Berry (6-4, 2-0)
Olympic (8-4, 2-1)
West Meck (8-5, 1-1)
South Meck (4-8, 1-2)
Providence (2-8, 0-3)
Biggest surprise: The conference’s strength. This league has always been highly competitive at the top, but this year, six teams enter 2020 with winning records. That’s going to make the battle to see who finishes top four in the league and secures a playoff berth something exciting to watch as we roll into 2020.
Watch out for: Butler. The Bulldogs don’t have all of that sparkly of a record at 6-6 overall, but they’ve lost all of those games by eight points or fewer and had a stretch of three straight games they lost by one point on buzzer-beaters. Coach Myron Lowery has won 20 or more games in each of his five seasons at Butler to this point.
Breakout star: Nygell Verdier, Independence. Verdier averaged 2.6 points per game as a role player on last season’s team that started five seniors. Getting more of a chance to play this year, the 6-5 senior wing is making the most of it by averaging 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Patriots, who enter 2020 winners of six straight.
Independence (8-4, 3-0)
Myers Park (8-3, 2-1)
Butler (6-6, 2-1)
Hickory Ridge (8-3, 1-1)
Rocky River (5-4, 1-1)
Biggest Surprise: Country Day. The Bucs showed promise last season but seemed to fizzle out as conference play begins. With a talented sophomore class and freshman Laila Hankerson (15.4 points, 3.5 steals) and the return of Kennedy Greier (11.3 points, 3.5 steals), this team looks to compete for its first league title of the 2000s.
Watch out for: Charlotte Christian. The Knights have suffered through three losing seasons in a row, but they close 2019 with a winning record. Even more, junior Breya Busby (16.4 points) is a star and her supporting cast is young and talented.
Breakout star: Hankerson. The Bucs are off to a great start, and their freshman guard has been in the middle of it all. She’s struggled some in all three of the losses, but Hankerson opened her high school career with 26 points on 12-of-14 shooting and has rarely been slowed in any phase of her game.
Country Day (10-3)
Providence Day (9-6)
Charlotte Christian (7-6, 1-0)
Covenant Day (6-6)
Charlotte Latin (6-6, 0-1)
So. Meck 7
Biggest surprise: Providence. Coach Jennifer Bean has had the Panthers on the rise since she got there, but this year has been something special. Led by star junior point guard Nyla McGill, Providence is one of the top teams in the state and will be a major factor come playoff time.
Watch out for: South Meck. There’s been a healthy three-team race developing over the years with Providence, South Meck and Ardrey Kell. The Sabres are on the outside looking in after losses to AK and Providence already this season, but they aren’t out of anything just yet.
Breakout star: Jaclyn Feit, South Meck. Feit had an impact playing inside last season, but this year the 6-3 senior center has upped her averages across the board with averages of 9.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.
Providence (12-0, 3-0)
Ardrey Kell (9-5, 3-0)
Olympic (9-3, 2-1)
South Meck (9-3, 1-2)
Biggest surprise: Independence. Coach Lauren Galvani deserves a ton of credit for taking over a team that hadn’t won a game in two seasons. She went 1-22 in her first season, but Galvani has literally built the program from the ground up since. The Patriots have already equaled last season’s win total and will be looking for their first playoff berth since the 2010-11 season.
Watch out for: Butler. The Bulldogs have struggled so far in a season much was expected of them. It didn’t help losing Michaela Funderburk (8.0 points, 2.4 rebounds) to season-ending surgery, but this team is too talented not to bounce back.
Breakout star: Trinity Thompson, Independence. Thompson is averaging 13.6 points per game and fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Her addition to this team has the Patriots sitting atop the conference as they head into 2020.
Independence: (10-2, 3-0)
Myers Park (7-4, 3-0)
Butler (5-6, 2-1)
Hickory Ridge (4-6, 1-1)
Porter Ridge (4-8, 1-2)
Rocky River (2-6, 0-2)