Full slate of conference games on tap for Friday night

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Rocky Mount Academy's Trey Smelcer, center, is defended by Henderson Kerr-Vance Academy's Michael Bowers, left, and Thomas Miles during the game Tuesday at Rocky Mount Academy.


Telegram Staff

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rocky Mount (11-2, 1-0 Big East) vs. Franklinton (2-11, 0-1 Big East)

Outlook: If it seems like prep basketball in and around Rocky Mount has taken a prolonged hiatus, that’s because it has. The Gryphons, who have played two games thus far in January, will host their first game of the new year against Franklinton today.

Despite the infrequent play, Rocky Mount sits at 11-2 on the season and 1-0 in Big East play, having topped Wilson Fike earlier in the month. Since, they’ve had two games cancelled due to weather. The only losses this season were against South Central earlier in the year and Nash Central in overtime in late December.

On offense, the Gryphons have gotten a strong offensive season from Rodney Alston (15.3 PPG), along with three other players scoring just under 10 points a game.

Notable number: The Gryphons already have more wins this season (11) than they did all of last season (10).

Wilson Hunt (4-9, 0-1 Big East) at Northern Nash (14-1, 1-0 Big East)

Outlook: Northern Nash will host Big East Conference opponent Wilson Hunt tonight in what will be just the second game the Knights will play this month due to a number of postponements caused by either final exams or poor weather.

The last time the Knights had a couple weeks between games didn’t seem to slow down the talented squad. Aside from some early shooting woes and turnovers, Northern Nash pulled away for a 24-point win over Franklinton, two weeks removed from the Bunn Holiday tournament.

Hunt lost 6 of its first 7 games this season. The Warriors won a pair of games at the Wilson Christmas tournament, then didn’t play a game until a loss at Southern Nash two weeks later. It’s been another two weeks since that game, so it’s likely both teams will be navigating the pitfalls of spread out games together.

Joseph Cherry-Blue leads the Knights in scoring at 14.1 points per game, while Hunt’s Jeremiah Ganaway leads the Warriors with 18.2 points per game.

Notable number: Northern Nash is the only school in the Big East that has scored more than 1,000 points. The Knights’ 1,081 points scored is well ahead of the conference’s second-leading point total in Rocky Mount High with 859.

Nash Central (9-6, 2-0 Eastern Plains) at Farmville Central (11-3, 4-0 Eastern Plains)

Outlook: After a slow start to begin the season, the Bulldogs have since won 6 of 7, the only loss in that stretch was to Rocky Mount earlier this month. The matchup tonight in Farmville will be a game between two of the better teams in the conference, the Jaguars entering with an impressive record both overall and in Eastern Plains play.

The good news for Nash Central: The rest of the season is against Eastern Plains teams, which means no more games remain against the higher-classified Big East teams in Southern Nash, Rocky Mount and Northern Nash, which are collectively responsible for all six of the Bulldogs’ losses.

The two heavy-hitters on offense thus far have been senior Tim Bridges (12.6 PPG) and Ta’Rod Brown (12.3 PPG) who are combining to score nearly half of the team’s overall points. Isaiah Jones, a 6-foot-6 center, is grabbing nearly 10 rebounds a game.

Notable number: 4.1. The number of assists AJ Styles is averaging for Nash Central in his first year as the starting point guard.

Southern Nash (8-6, 1-0) vs. Wilson FIke (7-7, 0-1)

Outlook: In a night where momentum will have to be jumpstarted due to the break from exams/winter weather, the Southern Nash boys’ basketball team will look to extend a streak. The Firebirds have won three straight games entering the night, but they haven’t played since Jan. 12.

The Firebirds have been streaky this season, having gone through a four-game winning streak earlier in the year and also a four-game losing skid. Wilson Fike’s last outing was a 21-point loss to Rocky Mount High on Jan. 12, and the Demons have yet to win a game since the calendar turned to 2018.

Noteable Number: 12.6. That’s the average points per game for Firebirds leading scorer Jalen Lucas. The senior is one of only two Firebirds averaging double digits in scoring.

Faith Christian (12-7, 3-3 Coastal Conference) at Rocky Mount Academy (9-6, 6-2 Coastal Conference)

Outlook: This game marks the second time this season the two in-town rivals meet, with Rocky Mount Academy earning a 35-point win at home.

This time around Faith Christian plays host to its rival, and the game comes at a good time as the Patriots are playing well. FCS is riding a four-game win streak, a stretch in which the offense has scored at least 63 points in every win. The Patriots are playing well, especially after losing three of the first four conference games.

Although the Patriots own the better overall record, Rocky Mount Academy has enjoyed more success in conference play. The Eagles are riding a three-game win streak, including a couple of close, single-digit wins over Halifax Academy and Greenville Oakwood. RMA’s pair of conference losses came against Kerr-Vance Academy and Raleigh St. Thomas More.

Notable number: FCS’ Zach Warrick is almost averaging a double-double with 18.9 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.