Here's something you don't see everyday: the team that is leading the Southwestern 4A, nearly halfway through the season, doesn't have a .500 record.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The East Meck boys, the 2008 N.C. 4A champs, are 8-9, but are tied with Providence atop the conference standings at 4-1. And because East rallied to beat the Panthers in OT Tuesday, the Eagles are the top dog for now.
East Mecklenburg plays at South Mecklenburg (2-13, 0-5) Friday night.
"We had to go through some things," East coach Jason Grube said. "This team had to learn me a little bit and then we got some football players back who were totally out of shape, then they had to learn their roles. And that's a tough thing for high school kids to do."
In the summer, East looked like it would have a strong season, led by senior guards Paris Roberts and Jeremy Ingram, who started on the 2008 state champions. East beat private school power Raleigh Ravenscroft by more than 20 points in the summer, won a summer league at N.C. State and nearly won another in Virginia.
But just before school started, Roberts transferred to United Faith in southeast Charlotte, where he is repeating his junior year.
"With him," Grube said, "we had a really good team. Without him, we had to adjust."
The turmoil didn't end there, however. Grube had to suspend seven players before a game with Mallard Creek Dec. 1 for what he called "undisclosed team violations." East played with six players: two freshmen, two sophomores, a junior and a senior. Grube moved junior varsity players up to fill out his team.
"It's what boys do," Grube said. "They challenge you, and we had to set the tone."
The Eagles have had a wicked schedule, playing N.C. 4A powers West Charlotte and Vance and playing three regional powerhouses in Christmas tournaments. Grube feels like his team has played one of the toughest schedules around. It's paying off now. East has won three straight since the Christmas tournament.
Ingram is averaging 27 points per game in the conference and 26.4 overall. "If he doesn't get player of the year in the conference," Grube said, "there needs to be an investigation."
Senior Dustin Harp and sophomore Jalen White, who had been averaging 6 and 7 points are averaging double figures against conference teams. The Eagles, despite their record, are looking dangerous.
"Five of the kids played on that state championship team and walked around here last year, as juniors, like they were big time," Grube said. "That permeated through the team this year. They thought they would show up, put the uniform on, like some of the other teams at East have done, and get the job done. We had to have a rude awakening. Those guys realized they can be good but they can't just go through the motions."
Southwestern 4A League Standings
East Mecklenburg 8-9, 4-1
Providence 11-5, 4-1
Myers Park 9-6, 4-2
Ardrey Kell 11-6, 3-2
Butler 5-10, 2-3
Independence 3-13, 1-4
South Mecklenburg 2-13, 0-5
East Meck at South Meck
Ardrey Kell at Providence
Myers Park, bye
Butler at Independence
Posted by Observer Sports at 1:27 PM