CORNELIUS Hough coach Justin Batts didnt expect his team would have an easy road to the MECKA 4A regular-season championship.
Yet the Huskies ranked No. 2 in the Sweet 16 made their path to the title a little easier Friday, downing No. 3 North Mecklenburg 69-61 to remain unbeaten in conference play.
Luke Maye had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and three other players finished in double figures for Hough (12-3, 6-0), which now holds a one-game lead over West Charlotte (10-4, 5-1) in the league standings.
Theres not really anybody in our conference that we can call it our game, Batts said. Our conference is pretty tough from top to bottom, which makes it challenging. But we can challenge our kids with that every day.
The loss snapped the Vikings (13-2, 4-2) five-game winning streak, and dropped them two games behind Hough and a game behind West Charlotte in the league standings.
But North Meck coach Duane Lewis isnt counting his team out just yet with eight conference games remaining, including home games against both the Huskies and West Charlotte.
We expect to win at our place, just like they expect to win at theirs, Lewis said. Theres still a long way to go, especially with our conference being so tough. A lot of things can go on. A lot of weird things can happen.
Behind C.J. Bryce (23 points), the Vikings looked to have a good shot at making something happen Friday. They pulled ahead 22-15 at the end of the first quarter, and extended their lead to nine points (24-15) early in the second.
However, Hough rallied to tie the score 35-35 at the half, then outscored North Meck 22-13 in the third quarter to take control of the game. The Huskies led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter.
We had to switch up what we were doing defensively, said Batts, who went with a 2-3 zone in the second half after playing man-to-man in the first two quarters.
Our bigs were able to stay back there, alter shots, block shots and get rebounds. We were able to make plays in that third quarter, instead of settling for jump shots. That made the difference.
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