The Mooresville boys basketball team entered the Iredell County Sports Hall of Fame Holiday Classic with a 2-5 record, but left with a .500 record and new trophy.
With their record entering the three-day event, the Blue Devils were seeded fifth out of eight teams. And they started off facing the only team not in Iredell County – Carolina International, the 4 seed – and came away with a 99-55 victory over the Concord 1A school. Continuing to utilize a deep bench and a high-pressure defense to beat Lake Norman and South Iredell, Mooresville came away as tournament champions.
“It meant a lot to us,” coach Michael Micklow said Wednesday before practice. “We knew going in we weren’t a team that was looked at to win it. Once we got locked in, we knew we could win it all.”
The Blue Devils were 0-5 to start the year, with three of those losses coming by 17 or more points. But entering a game against Vance Friday, Jan. 4, the Blue Devils have beaten two conference foes (the first Lake Norman game won’t count toward the I-Meck standings).
In a format unique to the season, playing three games in as many days did not phase Mooresville, who plays 10 guys regular minutes, despite the team’s aggressive style.
“We use our bench a lot,” Micklow said.
One of those bench players, Lamont Thornton, scored a team-high 21 points in the South Iredell game. The sophomore averages 8.6 per game but made seven of his 13 shots and was 7-of-12 at the free-throw line, also pulling 12 rebounds.
“He was playing extremely well,” Micklow said. “He was playing with a different motor.”
With county bragging rights, Micklow hopes his team can keep up its winning streak.
“Hopefully it will make us more hungry,” he said. “Now we got to go out and compete for a conference championship.”
Senior Griffin White led the Blue Devils in scoring in the first games, with 20 and 15 points, respectively. Mooresville trailed Lake Norman 30-21 at halftime, but exploded for 24 points in the third quarter, and hung on to win after each team only scored eight in the fourth.
Lake Norman senior guard Zach Schulz scored 20-plus points in every Classic game, shooting a combined 63 percent from the field.
Wildcat girls take 2 of 3
The Lake Norman girls used a 22-point win over Mooresville to ensure a third-place and a winning record in the county tournament.
As the tournament’s 6 seed, the Wildcats opened with a 44-35 win over South Iredell. Senior guard Lauren Sullivan was only player for either team to score more than 10 points, finishing with 14.
Following a 49-33 loss to Statesville, the Wildcats bounced back to defeat the Blue Devils, 55-33. Lake Norman got out to a 22-5 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Sullivan scored 25 points and was named to the all-tournament team.
Pine Lake beats ‘Cats
Pine Lake Prep used a balanced scoring effort to beat Lake Norman in the teams’ tournament finale Saturday.
Pride leading scorer DeMarcus Johnson scored 13 but was closely followed by 12 from Grant Wagner, 11 from Justin Workman and eight apiece via Derek Finizio and Thomas Drakeford.
Both teams shot 51 percent from the floor, but Pine Lake made eight of its 21 3-pointers, while the Wildcats connected on three of 10 attempts.