North Meck High wins boys Super 7 title

by Chris Hunt and C. Jemal Horton

This month, we introduce the 2010-11 Lake Norman-Area Super 7 Boys Basketball Rankings and crown our season-ending champions.

In the past, we’ve included teams from throughout Mecklenburg County. This year, however, we’ve narrowed our pool of teams to those in the Lake Norman area, which includes Mountain Island, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and parts of Mooresville and Denver.

1. North Mecklenburg Vikings (22-6)

After reshuffling its roster during the off-season, it was assumed that North Meck lacked the what it takes to compete at the standard of years past.

Someone must have forgotten to remind the Vikings of their limitations.

North Meck finished second in the I-MECK 4A conference behind state champion West Charlotte.

2. Mooresville Blue Devils (18-9)

Mooresville boasted an elite athlete in leading scorer Shawn Lester (17.9 points per game), two heady guards in Isaiah Johnson (11.2) and Kendrick Johnson (9.9) and a pair of glass-cleaning big men in Dre Howell and Raphael Montgomery.

Terrence Williams

3. West Mecklenburg (17-10)

The Hawks got off to a bit of a rough start this season, losing five of their first eight games. That wasn’t exactly a good omen for a squad that many felt could be one of the best in the county, if not the state.

Coach Donald Kirby’s team, however, regained its composure and finished the season impressively, rallying to earn the MEGA 7 3A/4A conference’s No. 2 seed in the Class 4A state tournament. The Hawks even won a pair of playoff games, topping Marion’s McDowell High and league foe Hopewell to advance to the sectional finals. Unfortunately for West Meck, that’s where it met West Charlotte, and the Hawks went down by 13 points.

West Meck was fun to watch, as Charlotte 49ers signee Terrance Williams lived up to his pre-season hype, and West Charlotte transfer Julius Hamilton – all 6 foot 2, 260 pounds of him – took pressure off his talented teammate.

4. Hopewell Titans (12-13)

Elliot Pope

After losing their top six players who competed on back-to-back conference championship teams, no one would have blamed the Titans if they mailed it in on first-year coach Damon Bost. An off-season injury to 6-foot-7 center Elliot Pope and an inexperienced starting lineup contributed to a rough start, in which Hopewell won just five out of its first 15 games. A 2-6 start to the I-MECK schedule didn’t help matters, either.

But Bost, a longtime Titans assistant, proved to be quite savvy, and Pope bounced back to lead the team in scoring and rebounding. With fellow senior Michael Russell also hitting his stride late in the season, Hopewell won five of its final six games to claim the final I-MECK playoff bid.

What followed was even more remarkable. In the conference tournament, Russell hit a 3-point shot to defeat third-place Vance for the second time in a week, and the Titans smashed Indian Trail Sun Valley, 61-41, in the first round of the state playoffs to complete a comeback season.

5. Lake Norman Wildcats (10-14)

The defending state champions lost four starters from last season, including Mercer University recruits Paul Larsen and Kevin Canevari. Guard Brian Whalen was the only starter to return.

6. Hough Huskies (5-20)

The Hough Huskies didn’t challenge for the conference title in their first season, but few first-year programs do. Still, a 58-56 overtime victory over Lake Norman Charter on Dec. 8 – the program’s first win in school history – kept the Huskies out of the Super 7 basement.

7. Lake Norman Charter Knights (9-11)

In their second season of varsity action, the Knights tied Covenant Classical for second place in the Piedmont Athletic Conference and earned a play-in game for the Class 1A state tournament.

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