2-6-24 roundup: Pro football and basketball, College basketball, High school basketball, Middle school basketball

By Richard Walker

This week as we prepare for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, it’s possible there will be some chatter about an obscure Super Bowl hero who has strong Gaston College, Gastonia and area connections.

Percy Howard

He’s Percy Howard, a former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver whose only NFL catch was a fourth quarter touchdown reception from Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X on Jan. 18, 1976. He also nearly caught a game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds.

Howard’s local connection began six years before his historic Super Bowl as he spent the 1970-71 season playing basketball for Isothermal Community College in Spindale.

A three-sport standout in high school, Howard chose to start his college career at the third-year program in Region 10 of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Isothermal Community College had started its basketball program in 1967 and Howard and future Gardner-Webb standout and local coaching legend Ken Napier were the standouts of the 1970-71 team that finished 15-10 overall against a challenging schedule that included contests against four-year university freshman teams.

Howard, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward, averaged 20 points per game that season and scored 34 in an 89-67 loss Furman and 28 in an 86-84 victory over UNC Charlotte. He also was the Patriots’ top scorer (21 points) in a 91-58 loss at N.C. State with future NBA first-round pick Tommy Burleson scoring 29 points. (Isothermal’s second-leading scorer, point guard Napier, would transfer and play the next two years to Gardner-Webb where he played alongside future Runnin’ Bulldogs’ pros George Adams and John Drew, before he became a championship-winning coach at Kings Mountain Junior High, Gastonia’s York Chester Junior High and at Shelby High School.)

Howard would eventually transfer to Austin Peay, where two of the Governors’ assistant coaches were former Gaston College basketball stars Leonard Hamilton and Larry Reid. (Hamilton, now at Florida State, is one of the winningest head coaches in NCAA history and Reid, who was a head coach at Tennessee State, retired as a longtime coach and administrator in Pensacola, Fla.)

During Howard’s time at Austin Peay, he played alongside legendary future pro James “Fly” Williams and helped the Governors win back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles and tournament titles with 22-7 and 17-10 records, respectively. Austin Peay went 17-10 again in Howard’s senior year of 1975 as he earned All-OVC honors. Another Austin Peay teammate was former Ashbrook High standout player and future Ashbrook boys assistant coach and girls head basketball coach Juan Smith.

By the end of Howard’s college basketball career, he received professional scouting attention but it was for a sport he hadn’t played since high school: football

The Dallas Cowboys signed him to a contract as an undrafted free agent. When he had last played football, he had 13 touchdown catches and nine pass interceptions.

In Dallas’ 1975 training camp, Howard impressed coaches enough to become a kickoff return man – he would return two kickoffs for 51 yards – and served as a backup wide receiver to starters Drew Pearson and Golden Richards.

With Drew Pearson (46 catches, 822 yards, 8 TDs), tight end Jean Fugett (38 catches, 488 yards, 3 TDs), running backs Robert Newhouse (34 catches, 275 yards) and Preston Pearson (27 catches, 351 yards, 2 TDs) and Richards (21 catches, 451 yards, 2 TDs) leading the Cowboys’ receivers, Howard got sparing playing time (8 games) but had no catches.

But he was a part of a youthful team with 13 rookies that helped the Cowboys improve from 8-6 the previous season when their streak of playoff appearances under Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry ended at eight years.

The 1975 Cowboys finished second to the St. Louis Cardinals (now located in Arizona) in the NFC East before upsetting the 12-2 Minnesota Vikings 17-14 in the NFC semifinals when future Hall of Famers Staubach and Drew Pearson hooked up on the “Hail Mary” 50-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

After routing the Los Angeles Rams 37-7 in the NFC title game, the Cowboys were a clear underdog against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

For Howard, who had played football, basketball and track at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dillard High, the game was a “homecoming” contest since the Super Bowl that year was being played at the old Orange Bowl site less than 30 miles from Howard’s hometown. (Located in the Little Havana neighborhood in downtown Miami, the Orange Bowl was active from 1937 to 2008, served as home of the Orange Bowl, Miami Hurricanes and Florida International college football, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and five of the first NFL Super Bowls before its demolition in 2008 for the building of the current Miami Marlins’ baseball park on the same location.)

In the game, Pittsburgh’s Lynn Swann made four acrobatic catches for 161 yards and what proved to be a decisive 64-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw with 3:02 left in the game to give the Steelers a 21-10 lead.

But Howard emerged as an unexpected factor on the next two Cowboys’ drives, first catching his TD pass with 1:32 left as Dallas crept within the final 21-17 margin. And later Howard had a “Hail Mary” pass deflect off his helmet in the end zone after Dallas’ quick defensive stop gave Staubach one final possession.

With knee injuries in 1976 and 1977 preseason drills knocking him off the active Dallas roster the next two years, Howard’s 34-yard TD catch remains the lone reception of his three-year NFL career. And he remains the only player in NFL history whose only reception came for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.










High school basketball

Here are area results/upcoming schedule:

(Tuesday, Feb. 6)
Crest 82, Cramer 56

Ashbrook 75, Forestview 51

Huss 62, South Point 59

Kings Mountain 89, North Gaston 44

Shelby 51, Bessemer City 23

Cherryville 73, East Gaston 43

East Lincoln 75, Foard 43: Jackson Fannon had 20 points to give him 1,006 points for his career for East Lincoln. Fannon is the 11th Mustangs’ player in history to surpass 1,000 career points.

West Caldwell 81, West Lincoln 44

Lincoln Charter 65, Bradford Prep 60

Corvian Community 71, Mountain Island Charter 50

Gaston Day 76, Metrolina 51: The No. 3 seed visits No. 2 Gaston Christian on Thursday in the MAC tournament semifinals.

Crest 67, Cramer 57: Monica Surratt had 26 points and Nevaeh Blackwell 13 for Crest and Oshauna Holland (29 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals, 1 block), Hadley Womack (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals), Ellia Barajas (9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Lauren Humphrey (5 points, 12 rebounds) led Cramer.

Forestview 58, Ashbrook 29

Huss 57, South Point 47: Myla Hoover had 17 points, Brooklyn Swann 13, Kelsey Griffin 11 and Arielle Camp 11 for Huss and Amya Graham (16 points, 10 rebounds), Maddie Frank (8 points), Lexi Birtwistle (7 points), Claire Frank (6 points) and Lauren French (6 points, 11 rebounds) led South Point.

Kings Mountain 41, North Gaston 37: Farri Martin had 15 points for Kings Mountain and Jaleila Littlejohn had 23 points for North Gaston.

Shelby 67, Bessemer City 65

Thomas Jefferson 49, Burns 32

East Lincoln 69, Foard 39

St. Stephens 57, North Lincoln 52

East Burke 77, Lincolnton 20

West Lincoln 31, West Caldwell 23

Lincoln Charter 60, Bradford Prep 20

South Lake Christian 40, Gaston Christian 32: The Eagles fell in the opening round of the MAC tournament.

(Wednesday, Feb. 7)
Shelby at Kings Mountain
Bradford Prep at Piedmont CC

(Thursday, Feb. 8)
MAC tournament: Gaston Day at Gaston Christian

(Friday, Feb. 9)
Ashbrook at North Gaston
Cramer at Huss
Kings Mountain at Forestview
South Point at Crest
Burns at Bessemer City
Cherryville at Highland Tech
Shelby at East Gaston
East Lincoln at St. Stephens
Foard at North Lincoln
Lincolnton at West Caldwell
West Lincoln at Newton-Conover
Bradford Prep at Mountain Island Charter
Lincoln Charter at Christ the King

(Monday, Feb. 12)
Lincoln Charter at Bradford Prep

(Tuesday, Feb. 13)
Ashbrook at Cramer
Crest at North Gaston
Huss at Forestview
South Point at Kings Mountain
Bessemer City at Highland Tech
Burns at East Gaston
Thomas Jefferson at Shelby
Queen’s Grant at Piedmont CC
North Iredell at East Lincoln
West Iredell at North Lincoln
Maiden at Lincolnton
West Lincoln at East Burke
Pine Lake Prep at Mountain Island Charter
Queen’s Grant at Piedmont CC

(Wednesday, Feb. 14)
Piedmont CC at Bradford Prep

(Friday, Feb. 16)
Kings Mountain at Crest
Forestview at Cramer
Huss at Ashbrook
North Gaston at South Point
East Gaston at Highland Tech
Shelby at Burns
Thomas Jefferson at Cherryville
East Lincoln at North Lincoln
West Lincoln at Lincolnton
Mountain Island Charter at Lincoln Charter









Pro basketball

Here is the Charlotte Hornets’ 2023-24 regular season schedule:

Wed. 25 ATLANTA (W 116-110)
Fri. 27 DETROIT (L 99-111)
Mon. 30 BROOKLYN (L 121-133)
Wed. 1 at Houston (L 119-128)
Sat. 4 at Indiana (W 125-124)
Sun. 5 at Dallas (L 118-124)
Wed. 8 WASHINGTON (L 116-132)
Fri. 10 at Washington (W 124-117)
Sun. 12 at New York (L 107-129)
Tue. 14 MIAMI (L 105-111)
Fri. 17 MILWAUKEE (L 99-130)
Sat. 18 NEW YORK (L 108-122)
Mon. 20 BOSTON (W 121-118, OT)
Wed. 22 WASHINGTON (W 117-114)
Sun. 26 at Orlando (L 117-130)
Tue. 28 at New York (L 91-115)
Thu. 30 at Brooklyn (W 129-128)
Sat. 2 MINNESOTA (L 117-123)
Wed. 6 at Chicago (L 100-111)
Fri. 8 TORONTO (W 119-116)
Mon. 11 MIAMI (L 114-116)
Wed. 13 at Miami (L 104-115)
Fri. 15 NEW ORLEANS (L 107-112)
Sat. 16 PHILADELPHIA (L 82-135)
Mon. 18 at Toronto (L 99-114)
Wed. 20 at Indiana (L 113-144)
Sat. 23 DENVER (L 95-102)
Tue. 26 at LA Clippers (L 104-113)
Thu. 28 at LA Lakers (L 112-133)
Fri. 29 at Phoenix (L 119-133)
Mon. 1 at Denver (L 93-111)
Tue. 2 at Sacramento (W 111-104)
Fri. 5 at Chicago (L 91-104)
Mon. 8 CHICAGO (L 112-119, OT)
Wed. 10 SACRAMENTO (L 98-123)
Fri. 12 at San Antonio (L 99-135)
Sun. 14 at Miami (L 87-104)
Wed. 17 at New Orleans (L 112-132)
Fri. 19 SAN ANTONIO (W 124-120)
Sat. 20 PHILADELPHIA (L 89-97 )
Mon. 22 at Minnesota (W 128-125)
Wed. 24 at Detroit (L 106-113)
Fri. 26 HOUSTON (L 104-138)
Sat. 27 UTAH (L 122-134)
Mon. 29 NEW YORK (L 92-113)
Wed. 31 CHICAGO (L 110-117)
Fri. 2 at Oklahoma City (L 106-126)
Sun. 4 INDIANA (L 99-115)
Mon. 5 LA LAKERS (L 118-124)
Wed. 7 TORONTO 7 p.m.
Fri. 9 at Milwaukee 8 p.m.
Sat. 10 MEMPHIS 7 p.m.
Mon. 12 INDIANA 7 p.m.
Wed. 14 ATLANTA 7 p.m.
Thu. 22 at Utah 9 p.m.
Fri. 23 at Golden State 10 p.m.
Sun. 25 at Portland 9 p.m.
Tue. 27 at Milwaukee 8 p.m.
Thu. 29 MILWAUKEE 7 p.m.
Fri. 1 at Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Sun. 3 at Toronto 6 p.m.
Tue. 5 ORLANDO 7 p.m.
Fri. 8 at Washington 7 p.m.
Sat. 9 BROOKLYN 7 p.m.
Mon. 11 at Detroit 7 p.m.
Wed. 13 at Memphis 8 p.m.
Fri. 15 PHOENIX 7 p.m.
Sat. 16 at Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Tue. 19 at Orlando 7 p.m.
Sat. 23 at Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
Mon. 25 at Cleveland 7 p.m.
Wed. 27 CLEVELAND 7 p.m.
Fri. 29 GOLDEN STATE 7 p.m.
Sun. 31 LA CLIPPERS 6 p.m.
Mon. 1 BOSTON 7 p.m.
Wed. 3 PORTLAND 7 p.m.
Fri. 5 ORLANDO 7 p.m.
Sun. 7 OKLAHOMA CITY 6 p.m.
Tue. 9 DALLAS 7 p.m.
Wed. 10 at Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
Fri. 12 at Boston 7:30 p.m.
Sun. 14 at Cleveland 1 p.m.










College basketball

Results and schedule for area men’s college basketball:

(Tuesday, Feb. 6)
South Florida 72, Charlotte 69
Cleveland CC 98, Catawba Valley CC 84

(Wednesday, Feb. 7)
Davidson at Duquesne
Gardner-Webb at Presbyterian

(Thursday, Feb. 8)
J.C. Smith at Fayetteville State
Queens at Lipscomb

(Friday, Feb. 9)
Gaston College at Cape Fear CC

(Saturday, Feb. 10)
Belmont Abbey at Young Harris
Gaston College at Brunswick CC
George Mason at Davidson
High Point at Gardner-Webb
Queens at Austin Peay
St. Augustine’s at J.C. Smith

(Sunday, Feb. 11)
Charlotte at Temple

(Tuesday, Feb. 13)
LaSalle at Davidson
Lees-McRae at Belmont Abbey

(Wednesday, Feb. 14)
Cleveland CC at Mountain Gateway
North Florida at Queens
Gardner-Webb at Charleston Southern

(Thursday, Feb. 15)
Gaston College at Richard Bland
UTSA at Charlotte

(Friday, Feb. 16)
Jacksonville at Queens

(Saturday, Feb. 17)
Belmont Abbey at Barton
Cleveland CC at Guilford Tech
Davidson at St. Bonaventure
Gardner-Webb at USC Upstate
J.C. Smith at Shaw

(Sunday, Feb. 18)
Wake Tech at Gaston College
Wichita State at Charlotte










Pro football

The 2023-24 NFL playoffs schedule:

Wild Card round: Jan. 13-15
No. 1 Baltimore (13-4), bye
(Monday, Jan. 14)
No. 7 Pittsburgh (10-7) at No. 2 Buffalo (11-6) – Buffalo 31-17
(Saturday, Jan. 13)
No. 6 Miami (11-6) at No. 3 Kansas City (11-6) – Kansas City 26-7
(Saturday, Jan. 13)
No. 5 Cleveland (11-6) at No. 4 Houston (10-7) – Houston 45-14
No. 1 San Francisco (12-5), bye
(Sunday, Jan. 14)
No. 7 Green Bay (9-8) at No. 2 Dallas (12-5) – Green Bay 48-32
(Sunday, Jan. 14)
No. 6 L.A. Rams (10-7) at No. 3 Detroit (12-5) – Detroit 24-23
(Monday, Jan. 15)
No. 5 Philadelphia (11-6) at No. 4 Tampa Bay (9-8) – Tampa Bay 32-9

Divisional round: Jan. 20-21
(Saturday, Jan. 20)
No. 4 Houston at No. 1 Baltimore – Baltimore 34-10
(Sunday, Jan. 21)
No. 3 Kansas City at No. 2 Buffalo – Kansas City 27-24
(Saturday, Jan. 20)
No. 7 Green Bay at No. 1 San Francisco – San Francisco 24-21
(Sunday, Jan. 21)
No. 4 Tampa Bay at No. 3 Detroit – Detroit 31-23

Conference championships: Jan. 28
AFC: Kansas City at Baltimore – Kansas City 17-10
NFC: Detroit at San Francisco – San Francisco 34-31

Super Bowl LVIII: Feb. 11
At Las Vegas: Kansas City vs. San Francisco, 6:30 p.m. (CBS)










Middle school basketball

Gaston County Conference standings through Feb. 5:
Grier 4-0
Belmont 4-1
W.C. Friday 3-1
Stanley 3-2
York Chester 3-2
Holbrook 2-2
Southwest 2-2
Chavis 2-3
Mount Holly 1-3
Cramerton 1-4
Bessemer City 0-5

Belmont 5-0
Holbrook 4-0
Bessemer City 4-1
Mount Holly 3-1
Grier 2-2
Southwest 2-2
Cramerton 2-3
W.C. Friday 1-3
Chavis 1-4
Stanley 1-4
York Chester 0-5

(Thursday, Feb. 8)
Chavis at W.C. Friday, Bessemer City at Grier, Belmont-Holbrook at Ashbrook HS, York Chester at Mount Holly, Stanley at Southwest, BYE – Cramerton

(Monday, Feb. 12)
Cramerton at Bessemer City, W.C. Friday at Belmont, Grier at York Chester, Holbrook at Stanley, Mount Holly at Southwest, BYE – Chavis







Travel basketball

The Denver Nuggets Travel boys’ basketball teams will be holding tryouts for the following teams: 6th-8th Grade Boys Wednesday, March 6th, Thursday, March 7th, Monday, March 11th and Tuesday, March 12th from 6:00-7:30 PM in the competition gym at East Lincoln High School (6471 Hwy 73 Denver, NC 28037). 9th-11th grade boys have the same dates from 7:30-9:00 PM. Players need to be at all 4 tryout dates if possible.

All basketball players in Lincoln and surrounding counties are encouraged to try out for the teams. Parent Permission, Medical Consent, and Information forms are required to try out and can be electronically sent to you. Contact Chip Ashley, at [email protected] or call or text 704-718-5136.