Spartans trying to take command of SCC
Sun Valley’s boys have a big home game tonight against Weddington in the chase for the Southern Carolina Conference title.
The Spartans (4-0) are the last unbeaten in the SCC, but the second-place Warriors (3-1) still control their own destiny — the two teams will meet again at Weddington on Feb. 8.
Sun Valley has won five games in a row to improve to 11-6 overall, while the Warriors also carry some momentum in to the matchup with a three-game winning streak.
The Spartans — who went 22-5 last season — are facing their most challenging home stretch of the year. After tonight’s game, Sun Valley hosts Marvin Ridge (3-1) on Friday.
When the Mavericks travel to Indian Trail on Friday, it will mark their third road game in a span of four days. Marvin Ridge is at Parkwood tonight and plays a makeup game at Porter Ridge on Wednesday.
Marvin Ridge’s only league loss was in overtime to the Spartans on Jan. 18.
Should the Mavericks win all three games this week, they will be tied for first in the standings.
If the Spartans are 6-0 in the SCC at the end of the week, with a two-game lead on the field, they will essentially have the the championship locked up.
What makes the Spartans tick?
Sun Valley has slowed the game down compared to years past, but still has the length and athleticism to trap effectively.
The Spartans put a lot more emphasis on getting mid-range and point blank shots, and they generally have an advantage on the boards.
After a 1-3 start, Sun Valley has won 10 of its last 13.
Last year, Shaun Stewart (25.7 ppg), Jalen Witherspoon (16.5 ppg) and Tevin Graham (10.0 ppg) accounted for 73.7 percent of Sun Valley’s scoring.
All three are now playing college basketball, and the Spartans didn’t return any proven scorers.
Sun Valley doesn’t light up the scoreboard like it once did.
The Spartans averaged nearly 71 points last season, compared to 56.7 this season. They’ve eclipsed 70 points just once in 17 games, and that required overtime.
And yet they’re still at the top of the standings.
Why? For a variety of reasons, but largely because they defend well in the halfcourt and don’t give up a lot of second shots. Sun Valley has held its opponent under 50 points nine times.
Coach Keith Mason and his staff deserve credit for adjusting the playing style to fit their personnel, and putting the Spartans in a position to repeat as conference champions.
Thompson can coachPorter Ridge’s girls have one of the best basketball programs in Union County.
Since the Pirates moved up from 3A to 4A in 2009, the girls basketball team has a combined record of 86-14 and have won at least one playoff game each year.
Porter Ridge is on pace to win the SCC title and carry the league’s top seed into the 4A playoffs.
The Pirates finished 24-4 and made the third round of the playoffs last year. The season before, Porter Ridge went 23-5 and made the third round.
As a first-year 4A school in 2009-10, the Pirates had a 24-4 record and won a playoff game.
Porter Ridge’s girls have won at least 23 games the past four seasons, including a school-record 25 wins in 2008-09.
Coach Ina Thompson’s teams are usually undersized but have terrific perimeter players and overachievers in the post.
Leading the charge this season are two four-year starters in 5-2 point guard Jasmine Huntley and 5-9 forward Jada Huntley.
Jasmine is averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 steals and 3.1 assists, while Jada ranks second in scoring at 11.6 ppg.
Senior forward Justice McKinney, a transfer from Parkwood, also plays a vital role for the Pirates. McKinney is one of five girls players in Union County averaging double digits on the glass (10.1 rpg).
Kara Cunningham, a sophomore guard, gives the Pirates a spark off the bench. Cunningham averages 3.8 steals and 3.1 assists per game.
The Huntleys have had a lot to do with Porter Ridge’s success the last four years, and they will be missed.
But as long as Thompson is in command, the Pirates should remain a powerhouse.