To have a winning season, a basketball team must have those special games. Putting it another way, you've got to win the close ones.
Take the East Davidson girls, who are having a most special season. They're undefeated (7-0) in the Central Carolina 3-A / 2-A Conference and 13-2 overall. Anyway you look at it, that's a special season.To be that successful, there must be some breaks and special games along the way.
The most special of those moments came last Friday night in a game at North Davidson.
All looked lost when East trailed by 12 points in the second half. Chipping away, Coach Greg Fowler's club came back to tie the score with four minutes to play.
Then it was back and forth, with first one team leading and then the other, until, with two seconds to play, 5-5 sophomore Melissa Everhart hit a 10-footer from the baseline to win it, 48-46.
Not only was the game recorded in the win column, it was a great confidence builder.
Fowler, himself an East alumnus and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, does not have an especially tall team.
His high scorer, Missy Russell, a senior point guard, stands only 5-5. Of all the players on the squad, she is regarded as perhaps the best college prospect.
Everhart, also 5-5, is the other guard or wing.
The wing is senior Andrea Byerly, 5-6.
Now we get to the ``big' girls, 5-9 senior post player Shannon Beck and 5-10 senior center Tiffany Allred.
Basically, Fowler plays a seven-man rotation, and that means that 5-6 junior Denise Emmons and 5-7 junior Wendy Samuels get plenty of playing time. Usually, Emmons plays on the wing and Samuels fills in at the post.
``We've got average height,' says Fowler. ``So you'd say our system, basically, is to play defense, get the ball out and run the court. Our team speed is good.
``So, it would follow that we would play the running game.'
Russell leads team scoring with a 13.3 average, followed by Everhart's 10.6 and Byerly's nine. Rebounding is close with Samuels having a five average and Allred, Beck and Byerly all over four.
As team leader, Russell's averages seven assists a game.
``Missy is a good floor leader and does an excellent job of communicating between the coach and the other players,' says Fowler.
Fowler, in his first year as basketball coach after heading volleyball and softball programs, inherited a pretty good program with the Golden Eagles, who last year finished second in the conference and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
This season's two losses have come at the hands of Southwest Randolph, who lead the Central Carolina 3-A League and have an 11-3 overall record. The Golden Eagles lost by 13 at Southwest Randolph and by three at home.
Otherwise, the first half of the conference season has been unblemished.
``We start the second half Friday night with Central Davidson,' says Fowler. ``To make the schedule balance out, and not end ahead of time, Tuesday was an off-night for all conference teams. We all get back in action on Friday night.
The way Fowler sees it, it's still a horse race with Randleman (6-1), Lexington (4-2), Thomasville (4-3) and possibly some of the others.
``We have a very balanced conference,' he says.