We take an in-depth look at all eight teams competing at the 2014 Dick’s Nationals in New York and continue our series with No. 3 seed Northside Christian Academy of Charlotte. NCA doesn’t come in with alot of fanfare, but what it does have is a talented roster confident in its abilities to compete against the nation’s most storied boarding school program.
Related: Dick’s Nationals Team & Individual Records | No. 1 Seed Montverde Academy | No. 2 Seed Rainier Beach | No. 4 Seed Huntington-St. Joseph Prep | No. 5 Seed La Lumiere | No. 6 Seed Oak Hill Academy | No. 7 Findlay Prep | No. 8 Seed The Sagemont School | Dick’s Nationals Field Set
Team: No. 3 seed Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 28-1, No. 4 (No. 2 Southeast Region)
Head Coach: Byron Dinkins (117-7, 4th season)
Key Players: James Demery (6-4, Sr., G/St. Joseph’s), DeSean Murray (6-5, Sr., F/Presbyterian), Keyshawn Woods (6-3, Sr., G/Charlotte)
Dick’s Nationals History: This is the first appearance for NCA. NCISAA programs have struggled at the event so far. Among Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.), Christ School (Arden, N.C.), Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) and United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.), no North Carolina team has been to the semifinals yet. NCA hopes to change that.
Road To Dick’s Nationals: The Knights don’t have a roster loaded with name players or McDonald’s All-Americans, but what they do have is a cohesive unit that sticks to the fundamentals in order to win. They proved that this season by dominating in-state foes en route to the NCISAA Class 2A state title. Concord First Assembly Academy was no match in the championship game as coach Byron Dinkin’s club won going away 87-68 to capture its third consecutive Class 2A title. NCA showed it was a team to be reckoned with at the Wild Wings Café National Classic. The Knights defeated FAB 50 No. 29 Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) 100-90 and a good Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) team that rose to as high as No. 7 in the FAB 50, 74-67, in the tournament semifinals. In the title game, NCA fell to No. 1 seed and FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy, 83-60. Later in the season, NCA had another signature victory over No. 47 Denver East (Denver, Colo.).
Inside Scoop: This team takes on the personality of its coach. Dinkins was a nondescript guard who wasn’t highly-recruited who eventually toiled in the NBA for two seasons and had a successful overseas career. Dinkins isn’t much for words or hyperbole. He’d much rather let his team’s play do the talking. “We wanted to play a competitive schedule, and we did that,” Dinkins said. “We are going to show what we do and that’s share the ball and play tough, team basketball.” Charlotte commit Keyshawn Woods (17.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.6 spg) was chosen Gatorade State Player of the Year and is a three-time all-state selection. He is a clutch scorer and will be the player NCA looks to for a tough bucket against Oak Hill’s 1-3-1 zone. Presbyterian commit DeSean Murray can put up points in a hurry and it will be important for NCA to get him some looks to keep Oak Hill honest inside. His future college teammate, 5-foot-11 guard Devon Bell, was pointed out by Dinkins as an unsung hero on a team with players who fly a bit under the radar. Bell and Woods are good defenders and what they bring to the table never takes a day off — even when the shots are not falling at a high percentage. Even though NCA is a bit of an unknown commodity on a national level, Dinkins doesn’t think it’s an advantage for his team against the Oak Hills and Montverdes of the high school basketball world. “I don’t think we have an advantage of being seen or not being seen,” Dinkins said. “I haven’t seen Oak Hill this season, either. We are going to go up there and play, it’s just high school basketball. We want to play good defense and I’m glad I have players that show up and want to get better. ”
Versus Oak Hill Academy: NCA is confident coming in even though its playing a team with a significant size advantage. NCA defeated the Arlington Country Day team Oak Hill lost to, so we’re taking a guess Oak Hill coach Steve Smith will try to get a hold of that tape to see what worked for NCA that didn’t for his team. Like Montverde, Oak Hill does have a lot of height, but Dinkins isn’t overly concerned because his team did win some games against taller teams. NCA wants to pressure the ball and create some turnovers for easy points. If the team has to grind out every possession, Oak Hill’s length and size will be a problem. James Demery will also play a key role because he will have to knock down some shots to loosen Oak Hill’s zone up. If Oak Hill can pack it in, NCA will be forced out of its comfort zone. The bottom line is NCA has less margin for error than Oak Hill does, will need Woods to make some big shots, and will have to play one of its best games of the season on both ends of the floor in order to advance to the semifinals.