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West Charlotte High playing like team on a title mission
 
Published Thursday, December 20, 2012 9:37 am
by Herbert L. White

 

West Charlotte High is on a basketball mission.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
West Charlotte High junior forward Austin Harris watches a layup against Independence High earlier this month. West Charlotte has beaten Mecklenburg County teams by an average of 35.3 points.


The Lions have definite goals: win the N.C. 4A boys’ championship for the second time in three seasons. And, if all goes as planned, craft an unbeaten season to match the 1999 squad that is arguably the greatest in school history.


“We’re trying to go undefeated like them,” said senior center Kennedy Meeks, who has committed to play at North Carolina next year. “If we take it one game at a time, we’re good enough to go undefeated.”


West Charlotte (7-0, 2-0 I-Meck 4A) won it all in 2011, but lost in the final the following year. With three seniors in the starting lineup and seven on the roster, the Lions are familiar with the expectations.


“We take all our games one game at a time,” said junior forward Austin Harris. “Just trying to get back where we were last year and hopefully win it this time.”


After seven games, West Charlotte is not only unbeaten, it’s dominant. The Lions have won six by double figures while meeting the toughest test with a 62-59 victory at DeMatha (Md.) on Dec. 8. Against Mecklenburg County opponents, West Charlotte’s margin of victory is 35.3 points and the games have been beyond a doubt by halftime as the Lions’ defense and uptempo offense results in baskets at the rim.


“They’re plays you always work on in practice and coach (Baronton Terry) makes me finish instead of laying the ball up,” Harris said. “It hurts the other team and brings their morale down.”


Said Meeks: “We’re just ready for every situation. We practice with intensity every day. At the end of the day, if we play hard, the games will be like this.”


Those practices – which are often more competitive than games – have developed West Charlotte’s depth. No only has it kept the starters fresh, it’s helped the Lions overcome nagging injuries.


“We’ve got a lot of good players,” Meeks said.  Jakeem (Yates, a 6-9 senior forward) – he’s hurt and he’s a good rebounder and scorer down low. Carlton Metz, he’s not playing right now. So, we’re missing a lot of the key players, but everybody’s stepping up like they’re supposed to be, and that’s what makes coach happy.”


What would make everyone happy is sticking to the season’s goal – win early and often. Meeks, West Charlotte’s best player, is looking forward to the journey.


“I can’t wait,” he said. “This is going to be one of the most exciting years I’ve ever played basketball. I feel this group is really good talent-wise and I feel we can go far.”

 

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