Myers Park Mustangs Rise to #4 Nationally; Prepare for Southeast Raleigh in Dean Dome
"Underdog" Myers Park Mustangs Rise to #4 in USA TODAY Rankings; Prepare to Play in Dean Smith Center (Dean Dome) on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus Sat. at 5 pm.
The Mustangs will be the lower seed in this matchup. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association seeded the Mustangs #6 in the state tournament field of 32. Ironically, the team rose to #4 nationally Tuesday in USA Today's women's basketball national poll. See: http://usatodayhss.com/
The team is 118-4 in the past four years and have not lost to a Mecklenburg County team during this time. Their only loss this year was to eventual Tennessee State Champion Blackman HS (Murfreesboro)
Since that game, many observers feel the team has evolved into the best women's high school team ever in North Carolina. All five starters have received NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers.
However, the higher seed and scrappy Southeast Raleigh (26-3) can spoil the party Saturday afternoon and will be gunning for an upset. The periennially good Bulldogs dispatched Wilmington Hoggard High School in Fayetteville last Saturday, 49-35. Knowing the hype surrounding the Myers Park team, Southeast Raleigh will seek to avenge last year's 4A NC Finals loss to the Mustangs.
Controversy looms in the background. The Mustangs are 28-1 and have won their last five playoff games by an average margin of more than 20 points. The team's dominate 58-38 victory over nationally ranked Northwest Guilford in Winston Salem raised eyebrows among women's basketball observers around the country.
Dick's Nationals has extended an all expense paid invitation for Myers Park to play in their New York City tournament with an opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden on ESPN2. If the Mustangs beat Southeast Raleigh, they would be in an April 2-4 field with three other national women's basketball powers to see how good each team truly is.
However, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has said "no" to the trip, citing the hard stop to the basketball season on March 14. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Myers Park officials have requested a waiver from this rule but have intially been turned down. The school's final appeal will be heard by the NCHSAA Executive Committee Tues. March 17.
Parents and friends of Myers Park are, of course, making every effort to get the team to this higher level of competition. The invitation is rescinded if the team loses it's championship game. But, the odds are against this happening.
Coach Barb Nelson won her 600th game this season and has been successful at every point in her career. She runs college-style practices and is a fierce competitor who prepares her teams very well. But, her main goal is to not only to help her athletes reach the next level. Coach Nelson truly focuses on helping each student reach their life potential. She has said the NYC trip is important to broaden the horizons, educationally and culturally, of all her players.
So, the intriguing story continues. Can the Myers Park Women's Basketball team become only the first 4A Mecklenburg County team to repeat as state champions? Will the team be allowed to travel to New York City to play the best teams in America. Will they maintain or improve on their #4 national ranking?
A week ago, the Blue Devils and Tarheels clashed in one of their annual shootouts on the vaunted Dean Smith floor. One month ago, Coach Dean Smith's memorial service was conducted on this same court. UNC's basketball legacy stretches far and wide, with names like Smith, Frank McGuire, Roy Williams, Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Phil Ford.
Can the Myers Park Mustangs high school team honor this legacy by playing their best game?
Stay tuned as this story unfolds.
To learn more about the Mustangs and the Dick's Nationals Tournament opportunity, click on:
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