Lake Norman & Mooresville

Point guard's 'old-school' play leads Blue Devils

Isaiah Johnson has been an integral part of the Mooresville basketball team the past few seasons.

The speedy point guard shows the way for the Blue Devils, running up and down the court, directing his teammates during both games and practices.

"He's our floor-general," said Mooresville coach Mike Micklow. "We've won some close games because of him. ... He's a guy that you can trust."

Johnson's ability to score late in the game has Micklow calling him "Mr. Clutch."

"Any time in close ball games, down the line, I want the ball in his hands. The team wants the ball in his hands," said Micklow.

That's not just because of the senior's play-making and scoring abilities, but also because of his excellent free-throw shooting, which has garnered him another nickname - "Mr. Closer."

"He has ice in his veins," said Micklow.

Johnson seems to have a knack for scoring when his team needs him to, whether that is pulling up for a big three or driving to the basket strong.

But he's also proven to be able to pass the ball to his teammates, as he leads the Blue Devils in assists.

"That's my main focus, to get everyone involved," said Johnson. "I can score when it's needed."

Johnson along with Division I recruit Shawn Lester, who leads the team in scoring with more than 16 points per game, have become a one-two punch for the Blue Devils at guard.

"We make a good combination," said Johnson, who's averaging 12 points a game. "You have two people who can handle the ball, shoot. He can score at will; he can drive and penetrate, but he's also a good rebounder and passer."

With the duo's scoring threat, Mooresville is able to open up the court and give other options like forwards Raphael Montgomery and Dre Howell as well as guards Kendrick Johnson and Brandon Bego more scoring opportunities.

After going 7-16 last season, the Blue Devils are off to a good start, being 10-3 (3-1 I-Meck) heading into last Friday's game at Hough.

The way the team is playing has Johnson, who is one of Mooresville's captains, and Micklow excited about the rest of the way.

"The sky's the limit," said Micklow. "We still have areas we need to improve in, but this team has a lot of potential to compete for a conference championship."

Johnson, who hopes his team can be crowned I-Meck champions when the regular season comes to an end, explained the team needs to get better defensively, especially to prevent opponents from taking wide-open jump shots.

"We have to stay focused, stay humbled," said the 6-foot, 170-pounder. "We can't let down just because we've been doing good."

Johnson said he's trying to do everything in his power to make his team successful and he hopes he's able to keep leading the team with his play.

If he keeps doing what he has shown the first half of the season, Micklow will be happy.

The coach said he's been impressed with Johnson, who he describes as an "old-school" player.

Johnson takes chargers, gets after loose balls and goes hard to the basket - where he's able to score and also dish the ball out to his teammates - all without flash.

"I can dunk, but I don't do all that," said Johnson. "I just lay it up or pull up for a quick jumper."

Johnson, who averaged 8 points per game last year, said he worked hard during the summer to get better.

He worked out every day during the summer, running sprints and taking nearly 500 shots a day.

Johnson, who's glad his work is paying off, said his biggest asset to the Blue Devils is his speed.

Running track, the sprinter helped the Mooresville 4x100 meter relay team to an eighth-place finish at states. Johnson was also 11th in the state in the long jump.

Although Johnson allows the Blue Devils to run at its fast-paced tempo, Micklow appreciates his leadership the most.

"He has one agenda and that is to win," said Micklow. "He's a great role model for this program."