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David Scearce/Record File Photo: Bandys' Alex Reavis (3) and the Trojans enter the final week of the regular season tied with West Lincoln atop the South Fork standings.

The never-ending series of rainouts and postponements have sent school athletic directors scrambling to find enough dry dates to finish regular-season play. Other than girls soccer, the final throes of the conference regular season have arrived and championships are still up for grabs in several sports.

This week, I’ll give an overview of who’s up for titles and which schools have some work to do to get to the state playoffs.

Mark Parker headshot

BASEBALL

South Fork 2A

The wild chase to the conference championship comes down to the final week. Bandys and West Lincoln are tied for first at 9-3 with North Lincoln nipping at both at 8-3 and Maiden close behind at 8-4. The conference gets two automatic bids for the state tournament with the remaining teams in the league looking for at-large bids.

North Lincoln, the defending conference champion, will start the week Monday by hosting East Lincoln in a makeup game and needing a win to rejoin Bandys and West Lincoln in first. Then the eyes of the conference turn to the games on Tuesday when the Knights travel to Maiden while Bandys goes to East Lincoln.

Once at 6-0, Maiden has fallen on hard times. After a loss to Lake Norman Charter last week, the Blue Devils have dropped three straight. They’ll need a win Tuesday to stay in the race for at least an automatic bid. West Lincoln hosts last-place Lincolnton the same night.

Depending on results from early in the week, the conference title could come down to West Lincoln at Bandys on Thursday. The Rebels won the first game at their place last month. At the same time, Maiden hosts East Lincoln and North Lincoln goes to seventh-place Newton-Conover.

Given the tight race at the top, the league is ranked favorably by MaxPreps. In the last adjusted rankings released last week, the top four teams, along with Lake Norman Charter (49) and East Lincoln (61), were in the top 64. Lake Norman Charter enhanced its resume with a win over Maiden (32) last week and East Lincoln will have games against North Lincoln (25), Bandys (24) and the Blue Devils this week.

Key Games:

Monday: East Lincoln at North Lincoln

Tuesday: Bandys at East Lincoln, North Lincoln at Maiden

Thursday: West Lincoln at Bandys, East Lincoln at Maiden

Northwestern 3A/4A

South Caldwell, which enters the week at 11-1 in the league, has already clinched at least a share of the conference championship as well as the top seed in the conference tournament and the league’s lone automatic bid for the 4A state tournament. The Spartans can claim the regular-season title outright with a win in either of their final two games or a loss by Alexander Central (9-3).

The conference also gets two automatic bids for the 3A state tournament. Alexander Central currently has a two-game lead over both Freedom and Watauga for the first automatic bid. The Cougars can clinch that spot with a win in either of its final two games, beginning with a visit from Freedom on Monday. Failing that test, they will have another shot Wednesday at St. Stephens.

Freedom forged a tie with Watauga for the second bid after defeating the Pioneers last Thursday. Following Monday’s game at Alexander Central, the Patriots close out the conference season by hosting McDowell. Watauga travels to St. Stephens on Monday before hosting South Caldwell on Wednesday. The Pioneers handed South Caldwell its only defeat in league play this season.

Hickory (5-7) has a small chance to get that second auto bid, but that requires beating both McDowell and West Caldwell this week while having Freedom and Watauga lose out to forge a tie in the standings. Otherwise, unless they win the conference tournament, the Red Tornadoes will sweat out an at-large bid for the 64-team 3A state tournament. They were at No. 60 in the last MaxPreps adjusted rankings.

Key Games:

Monday: Freedom at Alexander Central, Watauga at St. Stephens

Wednesday: McDowell at Freedom, South Caldwell at Watauga, Alexander Central at St. Stephens

Northwestern Foothills 2A

Postponed twice by rain, Fred T. Foard finally hopes to host Hibriten on Tuesday for conference supremacy. The winner of this game likely claims the title outright barring an upset.

Foard (9-1) won the first meeting between the two and another win on Tuesday will sew up the conference’s top automatic bid for the 2A state playoffs. The Tigers can then take the title outright with a win at sixth-place Draughn the next day. Hibriten (8-1) will also play Draughn prior to Tuesday’s showdown before closing out the regular season at last-place East Burke. Wins in all three games would give the Panthers the outright title.

Meanwhile, three other teams in the league are on the bubble for the 64-team 2A playoff field. In the last MaxPreps rankings, Bunker Hill was ranked 62nd, Patton 76th and West Iredell 78th. All three likely need wins to have a shot. West Iredell will play both its competitors this week.

Key Games:

Monday: West Iredell at Patton

Tuesday: Hibriten at Fred T. Foard

Thursday: Bunker Hill at West Iredell

SOFTBALL

Northwestern Foothills 2A

The rain has created a mess of the schedule with first-place Draughn still having four games to play. The Wildcats (7-1) can put the conference title race to rest this week, however, as they will play at third-place Hibriten (7-3) on Tuesday and host second-place Fred T. Foard (9-2) on Wednesday. Wins in both games would clinch at least a co-championship and, thanks to a season sweep of Foard, the top seed in the conference tournament and the first automatic bid for the 2A state tournament.

With just the one conference game left at Draughn, Foard will know at that time just how badly a win is needed after Hibriten plays the Wildcats. A Hibriten loss on Tuesday would assure the Tigers the league’s second automatic bid at the very least and would put them in a position to claim a co-championship with a win at Draughn. A Hibriten win over the Wildcats, however, sets up the scenario in which Foard would claim the title outright with a victory over Draughn.  

Hibriten and Foard could finish in a tie for second should the Panthers lose to Draughn but win at fifth-place East Burke. Should that happen, the league’s second automatic bid will come down to which team has the better finish in the conference tournament.

Key Games:

Tuesday: Draughn at Hibriten

Wednesday: Fred T. Foard at Hibriten

Northwestern 3A/4A

With three games left, South Caldwell (11-0) has already clinched at least a share of the conference title along with the league’s only automatic bid in the 4A state tournament. The Spartans will likely claim the regular-season championship outright when they host Hickory (0-11) on Tuesday. McDowell, the conference’s other 4A team, is currently in third place at 7-4 and is assured of a state playoff spot if it finishes there.

Among the 3A teams, Alexander Central (9-3) has clinched the first of two automatic bids. For the second one, Watauga (7-5) is two games up over St. Stephens and West Caldwell with two to play. The Pioneers can wrap up the second bid when they host St. Stephens on Monday. If the Indians prevail in that one, however, the race becomes interesting.

Watauga closes out the conference season at South Caldwell, but St. Stephens also has a tough draw on Wednesday by visiting Alexander Central. West Caldwell can get into the mix by upsetting the rival Spartans on Monday. The Warriors then play at Hickory on Wednesday.

The Indians were ranked 74th in the last MaxPreps rankings and will likely need some wins down the stretch to get in the 3A tournament.

Key Game:  

Monday: St. Stephens at Watauga

South Fork 2A

Winners of 12 in a row overall, North Lincoln (11-1) has clinched at least a share of the title by virtue of being up two games on Maiden and East Lincoln with two games to go. The Knights can wrap up the regular-season crown outright with a win at home against Maiden on Tuesday or at Newton-Conover on Thursday.

Maiden and East Lincoln are tied for the conference’s second automatic bid for the 2A state tournament. The Blue Devils will host the Mustangs in the final conference regular-season game for both on Wednesday. Prior to that game, East Lincoln gets Bandys at home.

Newton-Conover (8-4) still has a glimmer of hope to squeeze into a tie for second, but the Red Devils will have to beat both last-place Lincolnton and North Lincoln and get some help with losses by both Maiden and East Lincoln.

The top four teams were well within the top 64 when the last MaxPreps rankings came out last week. As many as six teams from the conference could get in as West Lincoln was 48th and Bandys was 60th. West Lincoln lost twice last week, while Bandys picked up a win over Newton-Conover. These two schools will play on Thursday.

Key games:

Tuesday: Maiden at North Lincoln, Bandys at East Lincoln

Wednesday: East Lincoln at Maiden

Thursday: North Lincoln at Newton-Conover, West Lincoln at Bandys

LACROSSE

Boys

St. Stephens (8-0) clinched at least a co-conference championship in Conference 16 after defeating Patton last Thursday to sweep the season series. Patton is at 6-2 with Hickory behind the Panthers at 5-3. The Red Tornadoes will host Patton on Monday. If Hickory wins, it’ll need to figure out a way to upset St. Stephens on Wednesday. Patton will also have a makeup game against Asheville, which has not yet been scheduled. The top two teams get a playoff spot before wild cards fill the remaining 32 slots in the 1A/2A/3A playoffs.

Key games:

Monday: Patton at Hickory

Wednesday: Hickory at St. Stephens

Girls

With just one Conference 10 match left, Hickory has already wrapped up at least a share of its first-ever title and will get the league’s top seed in the state tournament, having already defeated second-place Lake Norman. Barring an upset at St. Stephens on Wednesday, the Red Tornadoes will win the conference outright.

Key Games:

Wednesday: Hickory at St. Stephens

BOYS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A

The Northwestern 3A/4A Conference will hold two rounds this week in Morganton and Boone. The top three 3A schools advance to the West Regional. West Caldwell has won all five rounds this season and holds a wide lead over second-place Alexander Central. The Cougars’ hold on second is tenuous with just eight shots separating them from Hickory. St. Stephens is in fourth, 83 strokes out of a regional spot. South Caldwell will get the 4A spot in the West Regional.

Northwestern Foothills 2A

The Northwestern Foothills 2A enters the last week of play with a match at River Oak and the three teams that will advance to the 2A West Regional nearly decided. Draughn and Foard look to have first and second wrapped up with the Wildcats leading by 36 strokes. Patton is 25 strokes behind the Tigers for third. Hibriten has an outside chance to get in but is 40 strokes behind Patton.

South Fork 2A

The South Fork 2A finished its regular season on Thursday with Lake Norman Charter running away with the team title. Other teams qualifying for regional play are West Lincoln, East Lincoln and North Lincoln. The top four individuals not with qualifying teams will also compete at regionals. That list includes Maiden’s Kenan Lawing, who finished fourth overall this season, as well as Newton-Conover’s Holt Allison and Bandys’ duo of Luke Campbell and Ethan Hoyle.

BOYS TENNIS

Northwestern 3A/4A

Because it is a split-classification conference, the league’s schools compete in separate 3A and 4A tournaments. South Caldwell is scheduled to go McDowell on Tuesday to determine the two singles and doubles representatives to the 4A West Regional. The 3A schools will send four singles and doubles teams to regionals, with those teams being determined at the tournament held at Hickory starting on Monday.

Northwestern Foothills 2A

The seven schools from the conference will meet at Patton on Tuesday to determine the 2A West Regional representatives. The top four singles players and four doubles teams will advance.

TRACK AND FIELD

Northwestern Foothills 2A

A talented group of athletes will compete for titles as the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference will hold its championship meet at Bunker Hill.

For the team championship, West Iredell’s boys and girls teams have dominated meets this year, sweeping all four conference events. Last week at the Iredell County meet, the boys finished second and the girls wound up fourth. The Warriors’ boys team is led by Chandon Smith, who has qualified for the 2A regionals in the 300-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash, and Nehemiah Baughns, who has made it in the long jump. For the girls, the talented Lariyah Clark has qualified in the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter dash, posting the top mark in the conference in all three events this year.

Both Fred T. Foard teams have finished runner-up twice to West Iredell and won the lone conference meet they competed in without the Warriors. Long distance runner Karina Coulter has qualified in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. For the boys, Korbin Proctor (pole vault), Kevin Cervantes (110m hurdles) and Ben Trimm (3,200m) will also compete in next month’s regionals.

Bunker Hill’s Raheem Carson and Naeousha Ramseur both look to return to the 2A state meet after making it to the qualifying round a year ago. Carson finished 13th in the boys 100-meter dash while Ramseur was 12th in the girls 100m. Her time of 12.91 is the fastest in the conference this year. They will be joined at regionals by Haleigh Kanipe in the pole vault.

A couple of Draughn athletes are looking to get back to the state meet. Girls pole vaulter Leanna Seagraves was the 2A state runner-up last year and has already posted a vault of 11-6 this year, which is the highest in the West region. She has also qualified for the regionals in the long jump. Saniah Oneil was 11th in the discus at state last year and she has again qualified for regionals in this event, along with the shot put.

The fastest among 2A state runners so far this season is Marcus Jones from Hibriten, who ran the 100 meters at 10.64 during a West Iredell meet. Patton’s Noah Sheets, who finished 10th in the long jump at the state meet a year ago, has the West’s longest leap to date at 22-3.


HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY SCHEDULE

Week of April 15-20

Most varsity baseball, softball and girls soccer games follow a junior varsity contest. Starting times are approximate as varsity games follow shortly after the conclusion of JV games, regardless of time.

All schedules compiled from individual school websites as of 4/13/19 and are subject to change due to weather. For further information, contact the individual school’s athletic department.

MONDAY, APRIL 15

TENNIS

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament, 3A schools (Hickory High), 1 p.m.

BASEBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Alexander Central, 6:30 p.m.

Hickory at McDowell, 6:30 p.m.

Watauga at St. Stephens, 6:30 p.m.

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Hibriten, 6:30 p.m.

East Burke at Bunker Hill, 7 p.m.

West Iredell at Patton, 7 p.m.

BOYS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference at Silver Creek CC (Morganton), 3 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference at River Oaks CC (Statesville), 3 p.m.

BOYS LACROSSE

Conference 16

Patton at Hickory, 4:30 p.m.

St. Stephens at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Conference 10

St. Stephens at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS SOCCER

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Alexander Central, 5 p.m.

Hickory at McDowell, 6 p.m.

Watauga at St. Stephens, 5 p.m.

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 5 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

East Burke at Bunker Hill, 6:45 p.m.

West Iredell at Patton, 6 p.m.

SOFTBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom at Alexander Central, 5 p.m.

Hickory at McDowell, 5 p.m.

Watauga at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Hibriten, 6 p.m.

East Burke at Bunker Hill, 4:30 p.m.

West Iredell at Patton, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Fred T. Foard at Hickory Ridge, 5:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, APRIL 16

TENNIS

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament, 3A schools (Hickory High), 1 p.m.

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament, 4A schools (McDowell), 1 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference Tournament (Fred T. Foard), 1 p.m.

BASEBALL

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at Draughn, 7 p.m.

Hibriten at Fred T. Foard, 6:30 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at East Lincoln, 7 p.m.

North Lincoln at Maiden, 7 p.m.

Nonconference

Newton-Conover at St. Stephens, 4:30 p.m.

Patton at Enka, 5 p.m.

GIRLS SOCCER

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

McDowell at West Caldwell, 6 p.m.

St. Stephens at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at East Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.

North Lincoln at Maiden, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Newton-Conover at West Caldwell, 5 p.m.

SOFTBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Hickory at South Caldwell, 5 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys at East Lincoln, 6 p.m.

North Lincoln at Maiden, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Patton at Burns, 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17

BASEBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at St. Stephens, 6:30 p.m.

McDowell at Freedom, 6:30 p.m.

South Caldwell at Watauga, 6:30 p.m.

West Caldwell at Hickory, 6:30 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Fred T. Foard at Draughn, 7 p.m.

Hibriten at East Burke, 6:30 p.m.

Nonconference

Lincolnton at Bunker Hill, 5 p.m.

BOYS GOLF

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference at Boone Golf Club (Boone), 3 p.m.

BOYS LACROSSE

Conference 16

Hickory at St. Stephens, 6:30 p.m.

Nonconference

South Iredell at Patton, 5:30 p.m.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Conference 10

Hickory at St. Stephens, 4:30 p.m.

GIRLS SOCCER

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at St. Stephens, 5 p.m.

McDowell at Freedom (Catawba River Soccer Complex), 6 p.m.

South Caldwell at Watauga, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at Hickory, 5 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at East Burke, 6 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Lincolnton at Newton-Conover, 5 p.m.

SOFTBALL

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Alexander Central at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

McDowell at Freedom, 5 p.m.

South Caldwell at Watauga, 6 p.m.

West Caldwell at Hickory, 4 p.m.

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 6 p.m.

Fred T. Foard at Draughn, 6 p.m.

Hibriten at East Burke, 6 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

East Lincoln at Maiden, 6 p.m.

TRACK AND FIELD

Northwestern 3A/4A Conference

Freedom, McDowell, South Caldwell at Alexander Central, 4:30 p.m.

St. Stephens, Watauga, West Caldwell at Hickory, 4:30 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

Bandys, East Lincoln, Maiden at West Lincoln, 4:30 p.m.

Lake Norman Charter, Lincolnton, Newton-Conover at North Lincoln, 4:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, APRIL 18

TRACK AND FIELD

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference Championship at Bunker Hill, 4 p.m.

BASEBALL

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Bunker Hill at West Iredell, 7 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

East Lincoln at Maiden, 7 p.m.

North Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 7 p.m.

West Lincoln at Bandys, 7 p.m.

GIRLS SOCCER

South Fork 2A Conference

East Lincoln at Maiden, 6 p.m.

North Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 6 p.m.

West Lincoln at Bandys, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Freedom at Patton, 6:30 p.m.

SOFTBALL

Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference

Draughn at Patton, 6 p.m.

South Fork 2A Conference

North Lincoln at Newton-Conover, 5 p.m.

West Lincoln at Bandys, 6 p.m.

Nonconference

Maiden at St. Stephens, 6 p.m.

North Davidson at South Caldwell, 6 p.m.

Watauga at Patton, 6 p.m.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19

No Events Scheduled

SATURDAY, APRIL 20

BASEBALL

South Caldwell vs. Cape Fear, Bulldog Easter Tournament (Terry Sanford High), 4 p.m.

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