The last team standing in the way of back-to-back regular season conference championships for Hopewell is its cross-town rival, North Mecklenburg. The Vikings will travel to their foe's gym Thursday to close out both teams' regular seasons.
During the teams' first meeting in January, the Titans won a close 54-50 game that came down to the last minute.
It's unlikely that a winner will be decided until the closing minutes in this heated rivalry.
North Mecklenburg has nothing to lose and a lot to prove during this game, while Hopewell can secure a top spot in the I-Meck and a ticket to the 4A state playoffs.
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The Vikings have had a rough season in the newly-formed I-Meck conference. Although the team is talented, North Mecklenburg has not been able to close out games and has only won one conference matchup.
The team has lost all but one game by less than 10 points - the only exception being the 20-point loss to West Charlotte in January.
Since the last time they played Hopewell, the Vikings got their first and only conference win against Mooresville and lost a close game against a very good Lake Norman squad.
Forward Bernard Sullivan had a huge game for the Vikings against Hopewell last month, scoring 19 points and seemingly single-handedly keeping the team within reach.
But the second time around, he will need more help from 5-foot-11 guard Carlin Bremner, who was held by Hopewell to only 8 points in their last game.
Bremner, who's averaging nearly 20 points per game, will need to be the explosive player he can be to give his team a chance.
Winning this game would be huge for the Vikings as it would be a great morale booster for the team to close out the regular season.
The team, which will graduate three seniors this year, could build off a win against their highly-touted rivals even if the team doesn't make the playoffs.
Unlike the Vikings, Hopewell has proven that it can finish off its opponents when it matters. The Titans have had a number of close games - only winning two of their conference games by more than 10 points.
Earlier this season against North Mecklenburg, seniors Jordan Downing and DeMon Brooks each scored 13 points to lead Hopewell during their first game against North Meck. Brooks also came up big with his 15 rebounds.
Downing's defense could be a big factor for Hopewell, as it was instrumental when the teams first met and he was able to make Sullivan work harder for his baskets.
Hopewell will have to do a better job at limiting their turnovers, especially against the full-court press, because that's one of the reasons North Meck was able to stay in the game in its closing minutes.
It will be a tough task for North Meck to beat the well-rounded Titans, but anything is possible in this rivalry.