Prep Boys: Blue Comets hit decades-long high

Asheboro’s Jerquarius Stanback goes up for a shot last week against Ledford’s Whit Denny. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

ASHEBORO – There are lots of reasons that have made this a special season for the Asheboro boys’ basketball team.

The goal will be to keep it going.

The Blue Comets won the Mid-Piedmont Conference’s regular season, going through that portion of conference play without a loss for the first time since 1976.

“We knew we would have some success in conference,” veteran coach Brian Nance said. “We had a good first half (of league play) and next thing you know, you’re 6-0, 7-0 …”

Asheboro (19-4, 10-0 Mid-Piedmont Conference) made it to the finish line without a league loss going into this week’s conference tournament. Nance said he liked the Blue Comets’ focus in rematches after defeating opponents in the first rotation through the schedule.

Asheboro played its regular-season home finale by overpowering second-place Ledford 49-37 on Tuesday night to clinch the Mid-Piedmont Conference title. Jerquarius Stanback had 17 points.

The Blue Comets capped the regular season by winning 70-42 on Friday night at Montgomery Central with Camden Walker posting 17 points. That pushed Asheboro’s winning streak to 11 games.

Seniors Hakeeme Butler and Tanner Marsh are three-year starters and Stanback, a junior, is also a returning starter. Senior D.J. Headen had plenty of varsity experience entering the season. Walker, a junior, has been considered the biggest surprise, Nance said, and has provided a shooting threat on the perimeter.

Stanback averages 18 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. In the 10 Mid-Piedmont Conference games, he racked up a triple-double (that included points, rebounds and blocked shots) and seven double-doubles.

In conference play, Stanback’s 14.2 points per outing were followed by Butler and Headen before Marsh checked in fourth on the team at 9.5, giving the Blue Comets balanced scoring.

The Blue Comets enter the conference tournament as the defending champion of that event, rising from the No. 3 seed last year. There’s Wednesday’s semifinal against either North Davidson or Oak Grove and potentially Friday night’s final – both at Ledford.

This is Nance’s 17th season. His teams have won four league tournaments, but never secured a regular-season and tournament title in the same season. That hasn’t happened for Asheboro since the 1996-97 season.

“It has been a fun year,” Nance said. “We would like to win a couple more.”

Piedmont Athletic Conference

** Eastern Randolph began last week by trouncing visiting Trinity 98-70 with Davonte Brooks posting 32 points and Timothy Brower pouring in 24. Then the Wildcats clinched the PAC regular-season title by withstanding an upset from host Providence Grove by 88-84 (see separate story).

** Trinity received 31 points from Dominic Payne and 19 from Dylan Hodges in the clash with Eastern Randolph. The Bulldogs bounced back to top visiting Randleman 61-55 behind 20 points from Payne and 19 from Hodges.

Still, that means third-place Trinity (18-6, 8-4) has work to do to produce its second 20-win season in a row. Greg Price of fourth-place Randleman (14-10, 6-6) had 19 points.

** When Providence Grove whipped host Wheatmore 81-52, Sakai McKoy had 17 points. Wheatmore’s Cooper Black had 27 points.

** Southwestern Randolph kept its hopes alive for a share of the PAC crown by upending visiting Uwharrie Charter Academy 72-46 with Sean Adkins scoring 17 points on Senior Night.

** Fifth-place UCA responded by completing a season sweep of last-place Wheatmore by winning its home finale 76-42.

By Bob Sutton