MOORESVILLE – Playing aggressive, getting to the foul line and knocking them down has been the formula for Zach Schulz, as the Lake Norman guard is averaging more than 20 points per game.
The 6-foot-1 senior averaged 7 points per game a year ago, but opened the 2018-19 season with a 19-point game against West Rowan. And he had a six-game stretch of scoring 20 or more points, including 29 points on a stellar 10-of-12 shooting night against North Iredell Dec. 27.
Schulz has been taking and knocking down more shots, but his ability to draw fouls and get to the line has been the key to eclipsing the 20-point plateau.
“He’s working on it a lot, because historically he hasn’t been a very good free-throw shooter,” Lake Norman coach Brandon Jolly said. “He simplified his mechanics. He’s getting better and better every game.”
Against Hough Jan. 4 he converted on 9-of-12 from the free-throw line, and all 8 of his points in the second half came from the stripe, something Schulz said he “was perfectly fine with.” On the year, he’s shooting 68 percent, and has attempted more than 10 in three games this year.
“I would like to hit pretty much all of them, and only miss one or two a game,” Schulz said.
The leading returner scorer for the Wildcats was all-conference senior Zane Haglan, but he has taken on more of a facilitator role, setting up teammates like Schulz and Graham Welsh, who had a team-high 19 in the one-point loss to Hough.
“He likes to dish it a lot, and I’ll be wide open,” Schulz said of Haglan, both four-year players at Lake Norman. “Our games are similar and we know how we play.”
Beyond his scoring ability, Jolly is also pleased with the way Schulz rebounds and plays defense. His 6.7 boards lead the team, and he recorded a double-double against Mooresville Jan. 8.
“He’s been on a good run, scoring a lot points,” Jolly said. “But he’s also playing good defense and leading us in rebounds as well. He’s been phenomenal this year so far.”
Though Schulz has 16 3-pointers on the season, five of those came in the North Iredell game during the Iredell County Sports Hall of Fame Classic.
“They were sagging off me, and they didn’t roll,” Schulz said. “They just left me wide open.”
Wildcats even series with Mooresville
Lake Norman snapped a two-game losing streak and beat Mooresville Jan. 8.
In the 77-65 win, Schulz and Haglan combined for 55 points, scoring 30 and 23, respectively, and each recorded a double-double. Haglan was 9-of-15 from the field and made two of his five 3-point attempts. Schulz was 8-of-17 but also converted on 14-of-18 free throw attempts.
Haglan had a game-high 12 rebounds along with five assists, as his backcourt mate Schulz had 10 boards.
The Wildcats, now 8-6 overall and 1-3 in the I-Meck 4A, got off to a 24-14 lead after the first quarter. The win game a day after Lake Norman lost a non-conference game to Community School of Davidson, 65-60. Haglan only scored 7 in that game.
Jolly said his players’ effort wasn’t where it needed to be in the CSD loss.
“It was more of effort and energy,” Jolly said. “Those are the things we talked about. A lot of the other stuff would fall into place.”
The loss was the third straight for the Blue Devils, who are also 1-3 in conference.
Mooresville won the first matchup against the Wildcats, 53-51, in the county holiday tournament.