Last basketball season was a good one for Lake Norman area public school teams. Aside from Lake Norman's 4A state championship, Hopewell and East Lincoln had strong years.
The Wildcats finished the season 26-3, losing only to the Titans (23-3) - twice - and West Charlotte in the I-Meck Conference tournament championship.
But due to graduation, a lot of talent was lost in the conference, leaving local teams trying to figure out a way to regroup.
The I-Meck will not be as strong as it was last year, and the conference seems wide open for the taking. Mooresville, who counts on arguably the best player in the conference, Shawn Lester, and West Meck might be favored, but it's still too early to tell.
Coach: Bradley Gabriel.
After finishing last season third in the 2A Catawba Valley Conference, the Trojans will have to figure out how to replace their all-conference duo: 6-foot-1 guard Kyle Houser and 6-foot-4 center Tyler Potter.
For the Trojans to get back to the playoffs, they will need their seniors to step up.
Bradley Simpson: The 6-foot-3 senior forward will need to step up in the absence of Tyler Potter.
Coach: Neil Hodges
2009-2010 record: 20-8
Losing five players to graduation, especially star guard Kendall Bethea, will present Mustangs coach Neil Hodges a challenge this season. The team finished second in the 1A/2A Southern Piedmont Conference last season, but the big question will be whether the young Mustangs can respond to the losses.
Patrick Rendleman: All-conference junior averaged 10 points and nine rebounds per game last season.
Coach: Damon Bost
2009-2010 record: 23-3 (11-1)
After being one of the top teams in the state the last few seasons, the Titans have also lost a lot of talent. Seven players graduated, including Hopewell’s star players DeMon Brooks and Jordan Downin, who are now at Davidson. First-year head coach Damon Bost, who replaces Eric Davis, will have his hands full rebuilding this season.
Elliott Pope: The 6-foot-7 center is one of the key pieces for the Titans’ success this season.
Coach: Justin Batts
2009-2010 record: New school
Former Hopewell assistant Justin Batts has the duty of starting the Huskies’ program from the ground up. Batts wants his team to play good defense, push the ball in transition and to play with class – win or lose.
His 11 players will have to buy into the system for the team to see some success, but regardless of how the season goes, the Huskies should have a bright future.
Johnny Piedmonte: 6-foot-7 center will give the young Huskies some height.
Coach: Brandon Jolly.
2009-2010 record: 26-3.
Lake Norman loses its top five scorers from last season’s 4A state title team. Coach Brandon Jolly will have to adjust to those losses and motivate his former bench players to take leadership roles so the Wildcats can remain competitive in the I-Meck.
Brian Whalen: The 6-foot-2 guard is the only returning starter from the state title team.
Coach: Michael Micklow.
2009-2010 record: 7-16.
After finishing last in the I-Meck Conference last season, Mooresville might be the most experienced team in the conference. The Blue Devils lost two players but return their top seven scorers. They will be led by N.C. State recruit Shawn Lester, one of the area’s best players. Junior guard Kendrick Johnson should also be a big asset for the Blue Devils.
Shawn Lester: All-conference shooting guard scored 17.5 points per game.
Coach: Duane Lewis
The Vikings struggled last year despite having a talented roster in a tough I-Meck Conference. North Meck was slated to be one of the top teams this year, but the loss of Bernard Sullivan and Philip Anglade to Davidson Day set them a few steps back.
North could still surprise some in the conference with the addition of former Lake Norman Charter guard Shivaughn Wiggins, who averaged 17.4 a game for the Knights last year.
Carlin Bremner: All-conference senior guard should have another good season to lead the Vikings.