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Gallagher column: Roaming the county

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight. …
The Carson girls basketball team heads to North Iredell tonight in the North Piedmont Conference showdown everyone’s been waiting for.
Nervous, Cougars?
“I hope not,” said Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer. “We shouldn’t be. We’re confident in what we do well.”
What the Cougars are doing well is winning. The program, which was at bottom of the basketball heap just three years ago, is suddenly one of the best teams in the state. A high ranking. Unbelievable scorers. Shutdown defenders.
And a 14-1 record.
But the record that counts is the league mark at 5-0 and North Iredell also has the same 5-0. Tami Ramsey’s club (10-4) has been the class of the NPC for the past few years. Carson wants to be the new sheriff in town.
Misenheimer said Carson must contain 6-footer Brooke Redmond, the Raiders’ leading scorer and rebounder. But the Raiders have several Cougars they must stop. This is an amazing scoring machine. Carson has scored at least 75 points in eight of its 15 games with a high of 85.
They’ve won by margins of 51, 52, 54 and 58 points so far.
It’s a far cry from when the program started and lost … and lost … and lost.
“It’s easy to forget where we came from,” Misenheimer said. “The last two years, there have been a lot of firsts.”
One first the Cougars didn’t accomplish was the Moir Christmas Classic championship. Carson lost to Salisbury in arguably the most exciting girls final ever.
Misenheimer said she urged her kids to learn from the defeat to the Hornets and she also reminded them that it was a nonconference game. It’s not as important as tonight’s game.
“This is what counts,” she said.

The culture started changing when Allison Blackwell, Tyesha Phillips and Kelly Dulkoski came on board as freshmen. But it’s players like Sarrah Holman fitting in who have really made a difference.
Holman is having one of those classic senior seasons, where her confidence has blossomed. She is the most improved player in the county. In 15 games, she has 10 double-figure outings, including three of over 20.

Misenheimer has two loyal assistants in Doug Faison and her brother, Kurt.
Winning follows Faison. The crafty ol’ veteran won boys state titles in Virginia before coming down and helping Jennifer Shoaf turn Salisbury’s moribund program into a state championship contender. Now, he’s watching Misenheimer’s team take the same path.
“He brings a lot of knowledge and experience,” she said. “He has a good idea of where we are realistically.”
Of her baby brother, Misenheimer says, “It’s been neat to have him around. He’s enjoyed coaching girls more than I thought he would. He’s a younger perspective and adds a different outlook.”

Assistants are important on every team. Take North Rowan.
When Tony Hillian had to sit out a couple of games last week, Tristan Rankin, a former Cavalier star, took the reins and led the Cavs to a victory.

Wanna know when you’re getting really, really old?
I covered both Misenheimer and North Iredell’s Ramsey as high school players. You still see that same competitive edge as coaches.

Here’s a stat for you. Who has the county’s longest current winning streak among girls teams?
It’s not Carson.
It’s East Rowan, which was 1-11 at one time. The Mustangs have rediscovered themselves — what that means is, they’ve finally started passing the ball inside to the Twin Towers, 6-3, Karleigh Wike and 6-2 Kelli Fisher — and look like contenders.

Injuries are starting to take a toll. North Rowan junior T.J. Bates, who was so instrumental in North’s Western Regional win over Winston-Salem Prep and state title victory over Pender County last year, had knee surgery this week. West freshman Alexis Archie broke a finger and is out 4-6 weeks.

The Carson-North Iredell girls battle is the top game tonight as four doubleheaders are scheduled, two at home and two on the road.
South Rowan goes to Statesville. The girls should get an easy win. And the boys? John Davis’ Raiders could pull an upset. If it happens, West Rowan would be alone in first if the Falcons can win at home against West Iredell.
The top boys game is an old favorite: Lexington at Salisbury. They usually fight it out for the top spot in the Central Carolina Conference. Both enter with 1-0 league records.
But the weird thing this season is, each has a losing overall record. Salisbury is 5-7, Lexington 4-6. Look for Jason Causby’s Hornets to climb their way over .500 and win this conference — again. This team is too talented not to.
North and East are off.

On the air …
Hall of Famer Howard Platt and The Coach, Bob Parker, will call the Salisbury-Lexington matchup on WSTP 1490 AM.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com

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