By RYAN HERMAN
The Peoples Bank Holiday Clash is back this year and returns with the same field as it had in 2013.
Boys and girls teams from Bandys, Lincolnton, North Lincoln and West Lincoln will convene at West Lincoln beginning today. Bandys’s girls and Lincolnton’s boys are the defending tournament champions.
Girls teams from Lincolnton and Bandys kick things off today at 3:30 p.m., alternating between boys and girls with a game scheduled to begin every 90 minutes. Lincolnton and Bandys boys will play at 5, West Lincoln and North Lincoln girls at 6:30 and boys teams from those schools in the nightcap at 8.
The same schedule will be followed on Saturday, with the losing girls teams starting the day following by the losing boys teams, the winning girls teams and lastly the winning boys teams.
Admission is $6 and allows you to see all games. No passes except those issued by the NCHSAA will be honored.
Here is a capsuled look at this year’s field:
Bandys (8-0): The Trojans enter the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash as the defending tournament champions and the overwhelming favorites to win it again.
Led by senior point guard Madi Story, who has signed with Appalachian State, Bandys is averaging 83.5 points per game –– 16.5 from Story. The Trojans have four who average in double figures, including former North Lincoln standout Ace Easter, a Western Carolina signee who’s averaging 14.3 points per game.
Bandys opened Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference play last week with a 90-8 win over East Lincoln. It has scored 90-plus points twice, and its fewest points scored was 66 in a 28-point win over South Iredell.
Lincolnton (3-2): The Wolves enter today’s opening-round game against Bandys with the hopes of upsetting the Trojans, especially after they lost to them 56-35 in the title game of this event last year. Lincolnton is coming off a win over West Lincoln in which it had to rally from behind after trailing by as many as 13 in the second half. Freshman point guard Saylor Whitesides took over in the fourth quarter of the 41-35 win, scoring 19 of her game-high 26 points in the final period. She leads the county in scoring at 18.8 points per game.
North Lincoln (0-10): The Knights have struggled mightily this season so far. But most of that can be attributed to that fact they have eight underclassmen on the team, lost their leading scorer in Ace Easter when she transferred to Bandys in October, and had leading scorer Cailee Franklin go down with a right arm injury two weeks ago.
West Lincoln (4-5): The Rebels open the tournament against North Lincoln looking to beat it for the third time this season. Of West Lincoln’s four wins, two have come against the Knights and the other two against Cherryville. Their last loss –– they’ve lost four of six –– came on a night when they led 23-10 over Lincolnton with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. Madison Ferguson leads West Lincoln with 9.9 points per game.
Bandys (3-5): The Trojans have lost three of four heading into today’s opening-round game with Lincolnton, including a 92-53 loss to East Lincoln in the teams’ Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference opener last week. Bandys lost its season opener at North Lincoln 47-35, making it 0-2 this season against Lincoln County teams.
Lincolnton (3-2): The Wolves kept from losing their second straight when they held off West Lincoln late last week behind 36 points from Will Saine. The 6-foot-1 junior guard is averaging 19.8 points per game and scored 22 in the second half to win 69-63. Lincolnton, which hosted the tournament last year, defeated Bandys 60-52 to win the boys championship.
North Lincoln (5-5): The Knights enter tonight’s tournament game against West Lincoln having lost their last three –– all in North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference play. They’ve defeated the Rebels twice this year by an average of 22 points. Landon Yarbrough leads it in scoring at 12.4 points per game.
West Lincoln (0-9): The Rebels haven’t won in 2013, but they had their best shot at victory last week when they let a late lead slip away against Lincolnton. Dylan Frady leads West Lincoln at 14.7 points per game.