To stay in the hunt for the I-Meck conference title, No. 2 (Observer Sweet 16) Lake Norman has to come out on top when they square off against still-undefeated Hopewell Friday.
The top two teams in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll had a back-and-forth game that wasn't decided until the winding minutes of a 64-60 Titan victory in December.
A Titan win would solidify the team's spot on top of the conference standings, but a loss to the Wildcats would spice up the last two weeks of the regular season.
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The Wildcats (14-1, 6-1 I-Meck through Jan. 22) have been unbeaten since falling to Hopewell in December.
Lake Norman may have the best chance to knock off the Titans because of its balance with center Paul Larsen and guard Reggie Price leading the team.
Larsen is averaging 15 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while Garringer transfer Price is scoring a team-high 18.2 points per game.
The Wildcats had a five-point advantage in the fourth quarter against Hopewell, but they weren't able to hold on when the Titans went on a run to regain the lead.
Price had 18 points and Kevin Canevari had 17 when the Wildcats faced the Titans in December. Larsen had 9 points and 7 rebounds as he had a hard time going up against DeMon Brooks.
That matchup could once again have a big impact on who comes out on top in this game.
Hopewell (18-0, 7-0 I-Meck through Jan. 22) has been able to pass every test so far this season.
The Titans have been able to run the table in the I-Meck conference and have defeated quality nonconference opponents, such as Charlotte Christian and Concord.
Hopewell is led by Jordan Downing, who has the ability to take over games with his versatile style of play, and DeMon Brooks, who is a strong man who can dominate the paint.
Brooks, who signed on to play with Howard after graduation, led the Titans when they faced Lake Norman for the first time. He scored 21 points, while Downing added 12.
The Titans had a difficult time putting the Wildcats away in their first meeting, so this time they'll try to use their speed to get an early lead.
Both teams will need to limit their turnovers and pass the ball around efficiently to come out with a victory.