By RYAN HERMAN
DENVER –– Being good and being undefeated can, at times, be two different things. But Lincoln Charter’s girls basketball team is both.
The unbeaten Eagles (10-0) host Cherryville in a Southern Piedmont 1A Conference game tonight with their best start under third-year head coach Franklin Lowery.
Lincoln Charter is void of any superstars, doesn’t fill up the stat sheets and isn’t blowing teams away every night. What the Eagles do is play aggressive defense and lean on each other on the offensive end.
And they’re very good at those two things.
“All in all, they just work hard. When our basketball IQ begins to catch up with our academic IQ we’ll be dangerous,” Lowery said. “Right now we’re just an average basketball team. Good teams know that they can be beat, but they refuse to do the things that allow it.”
Lincoln Charter is made up of 13 girls, 11 of which won’t graduate this year and six that won’t graduate next year. So the Eagles are young.
They’re also deep. No one is averaging more than seven points per game, and nearly everyone gets plenty of shots and minutes.
When Lowery arrived via East Lincoln two seasons ago, those who were freshmen that year were thrown to the wolves at the varsity level early.
Now, in 2014, the Eagles are undefeated and are tied with Bessemer City for first in the league with two wins in two conference games.
“We’re pretty deep at each position, and we’re young,” Lowery said. “Some of them still have that bitter taste in their mouth from moving from middle school to varsity-level competition –– they didn’t like it. They’ve worked pretty hard to be successful.”
The Eagles are led by junior guard and two-year starter Caitlyn Miller, who Lowery called his team’s “spark plug,” junior point guard Madelyn Holmes, senior center Victoria Cobb and sophomore Madi Neesmith.
“I have a slew of folk averaging anywhere from seven to five points per game. That balanced attack helps us,” Lowery said. “They could probably average double figures, but I play a lot of people and I play a lot of people because we want to be fresh and always be able to apply pressure on the basketball.”
Ten games into the season and with none being a loss, Lowery doesn’t feel the pressure to sustain the run. In fact, he’s surprised his team hasn’t suffered one yet.
“When the season started I thought that we would fare pretty well, but at this point, to be undefeated, no, I didn’t think so,” he said.
But as the season has progressed, so have the Eagles.
They eked by Thomas Jefferson Academy 26-19 in an ugly affair in their last game before the break, but bounced back to win the Gaston Christian School Basketball Invitational last week with a 72-14 win over Gastonia Piedmont Charter and downed Matthews Carmel Christian 55-44 in the championship game.
Lowery said Carmel Christian had a star player who gave his team fits, but in the end they were able to use their balance to their advantage.
Lowery said his team became better with its help-side defense as well.
“They really challenged us,” he said. “The girls learned how to execute, they’re becoming more disciplined.”
Going into tonight’s game the Eagles control their own postseason fate.
They also control how long their current streak of wins will last.
“I’m just excited about what the future holds,” Lowery said. “They can control their destiny, as long as they come out and play hard. They have to come out and play hard every night. If we don’t play hard every night, then we drop way below what our record shows.”