Despite having won every basketball regular-season or tournament title in the two years of the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference, no Burke County teams are picked to win this year's league titles.
The East Burke girls and Patton boys both finished second as the highest-ranked county squads in the recently-conducted NWFAC preseason media polls.
Four media members who cover prep sports in the area voted in the polls and chose their preseason player of the year picks and order of finish for the league, which saw its regular-season and tournament championships swept by the Lady Cavaliers and the Draughn boys last winter.
The East Burke girls received one first-place vote, finishing with 29 points just behind Bunker Hill with 31 points on three first-place votes. Patton was third with 24 points while the Draughn girls placed seventh with eight points. Rounding out the order were fourth-place Foard (20), fifth-place West Iredell (16), sixth-place Hibriten (nine) and eighth-place West Caldwell (seven).
The Lady Bears' Addison Wray, a junior guard, swept all four player of the year votes.
EB has won three consecutive conference regular-season and tournament titles and has not lost a league contest in the current alignment over the last two seasons.
In boys, Patton's 24 points placed PHS behind Hibriten, which collected 32 points and all four first-place votes. East Burke was fifth with 17 points and Draughn was voted just behind in sixth with 16 points after graduating all five starters.
Patton has reached at least the second round of the playoffs in back-to-back years and won the inaugural NWFAC title in 2017-18 in unbeaten fashion.
The rest of the order was third-place West Caldwell (21), fourth-place Bunker Hill (19), seventh-place Foard (nine) and eighth-place West Iredell (six).
Hibriten senior forward Avery Keller collected all four votes for player of the year.
Justin Epley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-432-8943.