|Knightsí success makes them among U.S.ís best|
|Published Thursday, January 30, 2014 8:04 am|
These are heady days for Northside Christian basketball.
|Northside Christian forward James Demery (with ball), a St. Joseph’s signee is an important cog in the Knights’ 20-1 record and rise to sixth in the country in USA Today’s ranking of high school basketball programs.|
The Knights (20-1, 10-0) are ranked sixth in the latest USA Today poll of high school programs and arguably the best team Mecklenburg County has produced in a decade. Their only loss was to No. 1 Montverde (Fla.) Academy at the Buffalo Wild Wings Classic in December. Expectations have been lofty for the two-time N.C. independent schools 2A champions, so national acclaim is the reward for sustained excellence.
“It’s a great feeling for us at Northside Christian Academy,” said James Demery, a 6-4 175-pound forward signed to St. Joseph’s. “We love it and we’re enjoying the moment. Thank God for that.”
That they do. In addition to Demery, Northside has Keyshawn Woods 6-3, 175 pound shooting guard signed to Charlotte 49ers who is the region’s most polished all-around player. Woods earned most valuable player at the Under Armour Showcase when he led the Knights to a 75-66 win against Denver (Colo.) East and Colorado signee Dominique Collier.
“This is what you want to do if you want to compete at the next level,” said Woods, who took up the challenge of guarding Collier as well as leading Northside in scoring. “Everybody’s good in college, so you’re going to have to guard the best players, so you’ve got to learn to do both offense and defense.”
Northside’s success is rooted in the team concept honed by former UNC Charlotte standout and NBA player Byron Dinkins. By emphasizing group success, everyone gets a chance to share the responsibility for winning.
“We don’t have a star system,” Woods said. “It’s just whoever’s hot that game, you go to him. We all play hard and play together.”
Said Demery: “We’re a great team. “We play together; we know each other’s weaknesses and strong points on the court. By knowing each other on the court, we come together as a team. We just know how to play.”
Northside has proven that in recent seasons with state champions as well as competing against – and beating – some of America’s best teams. The Knights aren’t rattled by the big stage or national rankings with their success thus far.
“The lights are never that (bright),” Demery said after the Denver East victory. “We’re Northside. We’re a great team. I think we just came out too cool, thinking this was the first (time) we’ve been ranked…in the country. We’ve got to learn how to maintain that hype, so now we just come out hard and play with energy.”
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