Prep basketball fans in Lincoln County won’t have to travel far to catch local teams in important Southern Piedmont Conference rivalry games today. The Lincolnton Wolves host the East Lincoln Mustangs and the North Lincoln Knights travel to Vale to take on the West Lincoln Rebels.
Four teams are in contention for first place on the boys side, while three 3-1 teams, including North Lincoln and West Lincoln, hope to upset the Lincolnton girls, who are unbeaten in conference play.
“Any time we play any of the county schools, you can throw the records out the window,” Lincolnton girls head coach Jimmy Carr said. “It doesn’t matter what anyone’s record is, it always seems like a battle. That’s from the teams knowing each other and the pride that each school has in its program.”
The Wolves and Mustangs are meeting for the first time this season today. East Lincoln’s boys team (9-3, 3-1) is one of four teams with a first-place 3-1 record in Southern Piedmont Conference play at the midway point of the season. Bessemer City (10-2, 3-1) led the conference before Tuesday’s 55-52 loss to North Lincoln. Lake Norman Charter (8-4, 3-1) topped the last-place West Lincoln boys on Tuesday and Highland Tech (4-8, 3-1) took a 65-58 win over seventh-place Lincolnton.
The Wolves have dropped three games in a row while the Mustangs are 3-1 in their last four games.
West Lincoln and North Lincoln are in a battle between two teams in the bottom half of the conference standings. North Lincoln’s boys and girls teams swept West Lincoln when the teams met in the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash on Dec. 28.
Since opening the season with two wins in a row, the Rebels (2-10, 0-4) have hit a 10-game skid, but have lost six of those games by 10 points or less. The Rebels nearly knocked off fourth-ranked Highland Tech in a defensive battle that ended at 32-28 in the Rams’ favor on Jan. 4.
The Lincolnton girls team is in first place with a 4-0 conference record and is on a four-game hot streak. The East Lincoln girls (1-11, 1-3) picked up their first win of the season on Tuesday when they beat Cherryville (2-12, 0-4) 52-48.
“One thing we keep telling the ladies is to stay humble and stay hungry,” Carr said. “They can’t relax, no matter where we think we are in the standings.”
North Lincoln and West Lincoln are both vying for second place in the girls conference standings and one will pull a game ahead after today’s game. North Lincoln has seen strong offensive production from Antaijah Easter, with 24 points per game, and senior Payton Bruce’s 13 points per game.