2A Preview: Pisgah vs. Warren

Quick, name the only undefeated boys' basketball team headed to the Triangle Area this Saturday to play for a State Championship? <P> Not North Mecklenburg, they lost to Woodside (Va.) in December. Nope, not Greensboro Dudley they have sustained three losses.

Give up? Canton Pisgah (28-0), one of the most relatively under-publicized boys programs, will take on Warren County (22-9) this Saturday for the NCHSAA 2A Title.

"We're just a bunch of slow, country, mill town kids from the mountains," said Pisgah head coach Jimmy Cleaveland jokingly. "No, we have some kids that are some pretty good basketball players. We've got some good shooters on the team.

"You're not going to see Pisgah with five true tremendous athletes out there, but they're athletic enough and they're very smart basketball players too – they know the game. And we try to take pride on what we do on defense."

A trio of forwards – Jack Robinson (19.0 ppg), Elliott McDowell (18.1 ppg), and Jonathan Whitson (14.1 ppg) – drive the Pisgah basketball team, but point guard Tony Blake, who average 7.4 assists per game, steers it.

"Blake makes us go," said Cleaveland. "On offense and defense it's all based around him."

Warren County also is driven by a strong front court and guided by a playmaking guard. Forward Ronnie Durham leads the team in rebounds (12 rpg) and blocked shots, while guard Eric Stevenson, the Eastern Regional MVP, leads the team in points (16 ppg) and assists (5 apg).

The Eagles are also planning to use the underdog card once again for extra motivation. Thus far, the card has done the trick with the upsets of Bunn last Saturday and highly touted High Point Andrews.

The Bears, on the other hand, plan to pull strength from a crowd that figures to travel nearly 250 miles providing Pisgah a home game feel – just like last week's game against Burlington Cummings.

"Our community and our town of Canton have been behind these kids and the support means a great deal to us," said Cleaveland. "Being at our home basketball games or even on the road, we packed the gym all year long."


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