Drive with the ball against North Mecklenburg’s defense at your own risk.
The Vikings turned nearly every West Charlotte shot into an adventure Friday night, ruining the Lions’ state championship celebration with a 78-47 romp.
On a night when the host Lions honored players from their 1991 and 1992 state championship teams, it was visiting North Mecklenburg that looked the part of a title contender.
One week after losing to Chambers in a Queen City 3A-4A showdown, North Mecklenburg’s defense was superb Friday night. The Vikings blocked nine shots and held the Lions to 31 percent shooting from the floor.
“We spend a lot of time working on defense, and the kids played very hard at it tonight,” coach Duane Lewis said of his Vikings (15-2, 5-1). “West Charlotte is a powerhouse, but we were very active on defense tonight. Any time you come out of the Lions’ den with a victory, you’re doing something right.”
West Charlotte (10-6, 4-2) rarely got an uncontested shot.
Donovon Raymond, the Lions’ 6-9 junior center, found North Mecklenburg defenders surrounding him on every rebound attempt. Landon King, West Charlotte’s leading scorer this season, worked hard for his 12 points.
Meanwhile, North Mecklenburg attacked the basket relentlessly, was fouled frequently, and made its free throws. The Vikings outscored West Charlotte from the foul line 21-10.
The Lions, playing before a sellout crowd, kept the game close for a while.
“We knew it would be tough, with the sellout crowd,” Lewis said. “West Charlotte did a good job on the offensive boards in the first half. I challenged our guys, and they responded.”
The Lions took an 11-9 lead on Chadlyn Traylor’s 3-pointer with 2:48 left in the first quarter. Those were the last points West Charlotte scored until midway in the second period. By that time, North Mecklenburg had gone on a 14-0 run and led 23-11.
The Lions never got close again.
Lewis said senior guard Davion Cunningham, who scored 12 points, was a bright spot.
“He is coming off a knee injury, but he’s getting stronger with every game,” the Vikings’ head coach said. “He’s getting some D1 offers now. With him playing that well, it allows me to give Jordan (Crawford) some rest.”
Lewis said his team has played a tough schedule and now will have a week off to rest up.
“I’m looking forward to that week,” he said. “We can use it to get ready for the second half of the conference season.”
THREE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
Jordan Crawford, North Mecklenburg: Crawford, the Vikings’ standout 6-2 senior guard, scored 23 points and made all 12 of his free throws. He scored nine of his 15 first-half points from the foul line.
Landon King, West Charlotte: King made 5-of-12 from the floor, grabbed seven rebounds, and scored 12 points.
Isaiah Evans, North Mecklenburg: Evans might be the face of the future for the Vikings. A 6-6 sophomore, he hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points.
▪ At halftime, West Charlotte members of its 1991 and 1992 state championship teams. Members of the teams said it was the first time they had gathered for a reunion.
▪ Fans should remember that West Charlotte is a 3A school this season. The Lions are likely to be a real force in the state playoffs.
▪ West Charlotte made only 17-of-55 shots from the floor against the rugged North Mecklenburg defense. The Vikings connected on 25-of-53.
West Charlotte is back in action Saturday, facing Fayetteville’s E.E. Smith in the MLK Classic in Greensboro. North Mecklenburg is idle until next Friday’s game at Hough.
North Mecklenburg 16 21 22 19 – 78
West Charlotte 11 10 11 15 – 47
NORTH MECKLENBURG (78) – Jordan Crawford 23; Coles 8; Isaiah Evans 21; Bracey 4; Davion Cunningham 12; Maxwell 2; Jenkins 2; Foy 6.
WEST CHARLOTTE (47) – Landon King 12; Chadlyn Traylor 13; Alford 0; Raymond 8; Morrow 2; Glover 4; Day 2; Bowser 2; Simmonds 4.