The North Mecklenburg Vikings will try to get their second conference win when they meet Mallard Creek, which is at the top of the conference standings.
The battle of the point guards between Lauren Lewis and Najmah Tillard should be fun to watch, but the clash underneath the rim between North Mecklenburg's Trisha Abanukam and Mallard Creek's Mimi Benson could prove crucial in deciding the game's outcome.
Viking coach Jennifer Baker said this game will be big for her squad because she thinks the Mavericks are the team to beat in the I-Meck right now.
"They're definitely the team with the target on their back that we need to get," she said. "Knocking them off would send a message to some other teams that we're for real."
The Mavericks, ranked No. 10 in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll, have gotten off to an impressive 7-1 start. Head coach Clarence Johnson, a longtime AAU coach who took over the program after being an assistant for Ericia Turner last season, has led Mallard Creek to a 3-0 I-Meck record.
Mallard Creek already has some impressive wins, beating Harding and Lake Norman, both ranked in the Sweet 16 when they played. The Mavericks' only loss came against No. 2 East Mecklenburg, which is still a perfect 10-0.
Johnson's team will be led by Benson, a power forward with the tremendous ability to run the floor and collect rebounds. She should be a handful for her opponents in the paint.
But she will get a lot of help from transfer Najmah Tillard.
The point guard, who was named all-conference at Harding, is the Maverick's second-leading scorer averaging more than 10 points per game. Tillard will be a threat with her ability to penetrate and her speed as she has the ability to break down opposing offenses.
The Vikings kicked off their conference schedule against Lake Norman with a 70-50 loss.
First-year Vikings head coach Jennifer Baker said that her team didn't play well against the Wildcats, but her squad has rebounded well, defeating West Charlotte by 15 points.
"We're back on the right track right now," she said.
Lewis will try to continue being the Vikings' offensive powerhouse, averaging more than 14 points, four assists and three steals per game.
Sophomore Allison Stearns (10.8 ppg) and junior Kayla Lemke (9.6 ppg) should also contribute offensively for North Mecklenburg.
Baker said that in order for her team to have a chance to win, her Vikings will have to keep Mallard Creek's post players under control with the help of 6-foot-2 center Trisha Abanukam.
Abanukam has had a hard time getting her shot to fall and is averaging just over four points per game, ranking her seventh in scoring for the Vikings. She will have to contribute with her rebounding and blocking.
Baker said that her team will have to break Mallard Creek's press and to capitalize off turnovers, but most importantly they will have to disrupt the Mavericks' offensive flow.
"If we can do that I think that winning the game is in our realm of possibility."