According to Random House Websterâ€™s Dictionary, the definition of the word captain is a person who has authority over others and/or a field leader in sports.
With that being the case, a team would be fortunate to boast one player in a 15-man lineup much less three. But thatâ€™s the case with Lincolnton and a large reason why entering tonightâ€™s contest versus Lincoln County rival West Lincoln the Wolves have won eight games in a row.
Seniors Lance Friday, Zack Gibson and Demery Williams are the key cogs in the Wolves engine and exude leadership and confidence on and off the court.
â€œHeâ€™s (Lance) first and foremost is our hardest worker that we have on our team. We have some people that come in and will have a bad practice session and Lance just usually doesnâ€™t have that,â€ Lincolnton head coach Bob Cowie said.
Whether the Wolves are doing a shooting drill, a 5-on-5 scrimmage or just an individual defensive drill, Cowie always knows No. 32 will be going all out.
â€œWe were talking after practice today (Thursday) how every day heâ€™s here, heâ€™s working hard and heâ€™s trying to get other people to do the same thing,â€ he said.
Friday leads the Wolves with 13 points per game and in rebounds with five. Gibson and Brewer both are averaging four boards.
Gibson, a three-year starter and four-year player, has transferred the leadership he exhibited as a record-breaking quarterback onto the hardwood.
â€œHeâ€™s certainly the leader of our team. I think his leadership has kind of made itâ€™s way to the basketball court. The respect that Zackâ€™s getting from other players is well-deserved and earned,â€
The final leader, but nonetheless important one, is point guard Demery Williams who is the squadâ€™s third captain along with the aforementioned.
â€œDemery is certainly one of our leaders also. He gets the most out of the ability he has, works extremely hard and gives us a spark,â€ Cowie said.
After losing their season opener against East Lincoln on Dec. 16, the Wolves have reeled off eight straight. A large reason why? Their defense.
â€œI think itâ€™s (our defense) been a big improvement. I think it comes from the fact that we realize the importance of defending,â€ Cowie said.
And true to form, Friday is arguably the best defender Lincolnton has.
â€œHeâ€™s (Lance) obviously does a great job on his man, but he also does a great job in help defense and coming over and taking a charge,â€ Cowie said.
Nearly everyone has dubbed Cherryville or East Lincoln as the favorite to win the first Southern Piedmont Conference title and has left Lincolnton out of the equation. So does the snub motivate Cowie and crew?
â€œI donâ€™t know that we use that as motivation. The group that I have is a pretty confident bunch. Weâ€™ve certainly talked about next week being a big week for us,â€ he said.
Ah, yes, next weekâ€”a week that begins with an away match-up versus Cherryville and ends in Denver with the Mustangs Friday.
â€œPeople can overlook us, thatâ€™s fine. We canâ€™t overlook West Lincoln tomorrow night. It never is easy,â€ Cowie said.
The Wolves are a good team, but what remains to be seen is just how good as theyâ€™ve played no one that has a winning record with the exception of East Lincoln.
â€œWeâ€™re going to find out just how good we are within the next week.. After East Lincoln Friday night, weâ€™re going to find out if we are team that can compete for a conference championship or are we just a middle-of-the-road team,â€ Cowie said.
One thing Cowie and the Wolves will have working in their favor every time they take the court is depth. Where most teams go eight players deep, Cowie goes no less than 10.
eye-popping stats not there, but Cowie feels thatâ€™s a positive. â€œEvery night we go 10 players deep, but sometimes we go 12 to 13. Hopefully it will be a positive for us down the road..â€
by John Mark Brooks