For local high school basketball fans, this weekend is the unofficial kickoff to the 2018-19 season.
Both the McDowell Titans and Lady Titans are in their second week of the preseason on the hardwood and both squads will be participating in area scrimmages on Saturday.
The Lady Titans will be making the trek to Morganton to participate in the 15th Annual Freedom Super Saturday Scrimmage on the campus of Freedom High School in Morganton and at Table Rock Middle School in Glen Alpine.
McDowell has been a regular attendant in the popular event and will open the festivities in the Freedom main gym on Saturday bright and early, scrimmaging Newton-Conover at 8:30 a.m.
Then, after an intermission, the Lady Titans will square off with Draughn at 11:30 in Freedom’s auxiliary gym. The final scrimmage session will be played at Table Rock at 3:10 p.m. Saturday against Forestview.
For head coach Jennifer Kinninger, the Super Saturday jamboree will give her and the coaching staff a good first look at the squad against local competition in a more game-like setting than practice can offer. The team, as of today, will have finished its ninth day of practice since the official start of the winter sports season back on Halloween.
“Here in the first part of the preseason, we have been working to find an identity, so we are looking forward to Saturday in getting to play some other teams,” said Kinninger. “We’re going to use this to help figure out what some of our strengths are and things that we need to work on to be a better basketball team.”
Coming off a 16-11 record a year ago, Coach Kinninger will have the opportunity to use Saturday to evaluate her roster, since this year’s team will feature a significant number of new faces.
Three starters, including guards Dezi Williams and Zoe Miller return this season, with wing Silese Carson and post Megan Zullo the lone remaining full-time varsity players.
This year’s Super Saturday will feature a significant number of teams on the Lady Titans’ schedule this season, including Northwestern 3A/4A members Freedom, South Caldwell, West Caldwell and St Stephens. Non-conference opponents R-S Central, Mitchell and Fred T. Foard will also be a part of the event. Price of admission is $5 and is good for all three sites.
The McDowell Titans will be on the road Saturday participating in the Jet Jam Preseason Jamboree at the Xcel Sportsplex in Fletcher.
The Titans, coming off a 21-7 mark a year ago, are also going through a significant turnover on the roster as all five starters and seven total members from last year have graduated.
There is a decidedly different look to the Titans here in the preseason. That, along the upcoming football playoffs holding back additional members to the varsity roster, has things progressing at a slower pace than on most seasons. However, head coach Brian Franklin has seen good things in the early stages.
“Our kids have been working extremely hard,” said Franklin. “Obviously, we’ve got a lot of new faces of kids from the jayvee team, but we do have some returning players who did things for us last year, and that’s been important. It’s been a little strained at times and hard on us because the way the football playoffs are set. We have got five kids that are very important to our basketball team that aren’t here yet and probably won’t be here for a while, but the ones that have been here have worked as hard as they can possibly work.”
Coach Franklin noted that the earliest any varsity football players would report to basketball is on Monday, Nov. 19, depending upon the outcome of McDowell’s expected playoff game. The football playoffs were moved back a week earlier in the season due to weather-associated problems down east.
But prior to that, the Titans will be busy on Saturday in four scrimmages, three of them against Buncombe County programs and old Mountain Athletic Conference foes. It starts for McDowell at 9:10 a.m. on Xcel Court 3 against Erwin. Then, after a short break, McDowell will match up with East Rutherford at 10:30 a.m.
The last two sessions include a 40-minute segment with host Enka on Court 1, and a contest on Court 5 against North Buncombe at 1:10 p.m.
Both McDowell teams will also have one more traditional scrimmage before the Nov. 27 season opener at home against East Burke.
The Lady Titans will travel to Newland to scrimmage Avery on Nov. 15 (6 p.m. start); and the Titans host Patton on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 21 (1 p.m. start).
The McDowell Lady Titans will play in the Annual Freedom Super Saturday Scrimmage Saturday in Morganton on the following schedule:
Time Opponent Location
8:30 a.m. Newton-Conover Freedom main gym
11:30 a.m. Draughn Freedom auxiliary gym
3:10 p.m. Forestview Table Rock Middle School
The Titans will play in the Jet Jam Preseason Jamboree Saturday at the Xcel Sportsplex in Fletcher on the following schedule:
Time Opponent Location
9:10 a.m. Erwin Court 3
10:30 a.m. East Rutherford Court 3
11:50 a.m. Enka Court 1
1:10 p.m. North Buncombe Court 5
McDowell High basketball 2018-19
Nov. 27 East Burke
Nov. 30 @Fred T. Foard
Dec. 4 R-S Central
Dec. 7 @Mitchell
Dec. 11 @East Burke
Dec. 18 @R-S Central
Dec. 21 Mitchell
Dec. 26-28 @Freedom Tournament
Jan. 2 @Hickory
Jan. 4 St. Stephens
Jan. 8 Watauga
Jan. 11 Alexander Central
Jan. 15 @South Caldwell
Jan. 18 West Caldwell
Jan. 22 @Freedom
Jan. 25 Hickory
Jan. 29 @St. Stephens
Feb. 1 @Watauga
Feb. 5 @Alexander Central
Feb. 8 South Caldwell
Feb. 12 @West Caldwell
Feb. 15 Freedom
Feb. 18-22 NWC Tournament
Feb. 25 – March 1 Sectionals
March 2-9 Regionals
March 16 State Championships
NWC games in bold