North Moore Boys Blend Veterans, Newcomers
After suffering a rash of growing pains last season, North Moore boys’ head basketball coach Grant Smith and his team feel optimistic this year about stepping up to the next level in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
The young Mustangs struggled last year in finishing seventh in the league with a 3-13 record and 3-19 overall.
“We have a good core of players and we think we can step up and be competitive in the conference,” said Smith, who is starting his fifth season guiding the Mustang program. “Our goal is to compete with the upper echelon in the conference and get one of the automatic playoff berths. We’ve been working hard and there is no substitute for working hard.”
Coach Smith and his staff have a good blend of veteran players to go along with the younger players on the 11-man roster.
The Mustangs have eight players back from last year’s team, with four of them being seniors. There are five juniors on the team, with three of them having varsity experience, along with a sophomore, who saw a lot of playing time last year. Smith is also keeping a freshman up on the varsity level this year.
The seniors on the team returning are Landon Auman, Adam Bullard, Denzel Herron and Daniel Purvis.
Auman was one of the top scorers and rebounders for the Mustangs last year and was selected to the all-conference squad as junior. Another senior Smith is counting on for leadership is Herron, who is one of the defensive stoppers for the team.
“I’m counting on those two along with the other seniors to lead this team,” said Smith. “Landon is one of the leaders, but he’s not very vocal. He leads by example. I’m counting on Denzel for his defense.”
Bullard should be the coach out on the floor as the team’s point guard. Purvis will be counted on to come off the bench for a spark.
Rounding out the starting lineup with Auman, Bullard and Herron are junior guard Quashan Davis and junior forward Malik Chisholm. Both saw a lot of playing time last year as sophomores.
Smith isn’t totally set on his starting lineup and he may go with sophomore Matt Spivey as a starter in some cases. Spivey saw quite a bit of playing time last year as a freshman called up to the varsity midway through the season.
“Quashan and Matt are my best two shooters and there are times when we will need both of them in there when the other teams are in a zone,” said Smith.
Smith is hoping to have an eight-man rotation with junior Austin Hunsucker and freshman Aaron Richardson providing relief and a spark.
“We’re hoping we can have an eight-man rotation and maybe deeper as the season continues,” said Smith.
The Mustangs will be counting on Purvis, along with juniors Tristian Britt and Colton Troxler to push the starters for playing time and to come off the bench to give the starters a breather.
Smith is a stickler when it comes to playing defense with his pet saying being “defend or sit.” And this team will not be an exception.
“We want to be able to play a lot of man and get pressure on the ball, the way I want them to,” said Smith. “We still have a lot of work to do on our communicating with each other on defense and moving our feet. We’re not very big, but we’re quick and we hope to use that to our advantage.”
The conference should once again be very competitive, especially North Rowan, who won the state 1-A championship in 2011 and once again has strong group back for their final year in the league.
Last year’s second place team, South Davidson, lost all of its starters while Chatham Central returns many of its starters from last year. Albemarle is always strong with coach Al Andrews pacing the sidelines.
East and West Montgomery always have athletic and competitive teams, with the Warriors returning three starters from last year’s team. South Stanly and Gray Stone may have their share of struggles this year.
The Mustangs play a very tough non-conference schedule with a game against cross-county rival 3-A Union Pines. They have home-and-home games with 2-A North Stanly and O’Neal. They also entertain 2-A Eastern Randolph.
“I really like the chemistry of this team,” said Smith. “I started seeing flashes of it over the summer and we’re really coming together. The guys have been here since I’ve been here and they know what I expect. I think they’re ready to do something special this year. They want to leave their mark here at North Moore.”
The Mustangs open their season Monday when they travel to North Stanly. The girls’ game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. followed by the boys’ contest. North Moore’s first home game is Nov. 27 when it entertains Union Pines.
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