For nearly a decade, Lake Norman and Mooresville have battled for Iredell County supremacy in every sport, beginning in the North Piedmont Conference and now in the I-Meck Conference.
For the last few seasons, the Wildcats have had the upper hand, not losing to Mooresville since 2007 and winning a 4A state title last year for coach Brandon Jolly.
This season, Lake Norman and Mooresville enter their first meeting of the season Friday night on a more equal playing field.
The Blue Devils are off to their best start in some time and may be favored, but the Wildcats have been overcoming growing pains.
Mooresville (10-3, 3-1) will look to use a frenetic pace, led by guards Isaiah Johnson and Shawn Lester as well as a deep and talented squad, to outrun the Wildcats.
Lake Norman (9-4, 1-3), which struggled at the beginning of the season, won its fourth consecutive Statesville Record & Landmark Holiday Classic last month, capping it with a 72-54 win against Statesville in the championship game.
Lake Norman has won the last five meetings in the rivalry by an average of 20 points, so the Blue Devils will be seeking revenge, I-Meck position and bragging rights.
Both teams need a victory, so this game could come down to a close finish.
The Blue Devils haven't beaten Lake Norman since Dec. 18, 2007, so to say they want to win this game would be an understatement.
But Mooresville will have to force its fast pace, as Johnson and Lester look to run at every opportunity. Lester, who is being recruited by several Division I schools including N.C. State, needs to prove he is a star in this league.
But while the Mooresville backcourt play is big, the Blue Devils will need their big men like Kendrick Johnson, Dre Howell and Raphael Montgomery to help exert their advantage in size and depth over Lake Norman.
Coach Mike Micklow said his Blue Devils will look to establish a wide-open, fast-paced game as soon as possible, getting their team and the crowd into the game.
If Mooresville can do that, they could have a great chance at wearing down the Wildcats with their pressure and speed.
Lake Norman lost nearly everything from last year's state-championship team, but Jolly and company are starting prove they might be reloading instead of rebuilding.
Senior Brian Whalen, the only returning starter, has been everything Jolly expected and more, scoring 19 points per game to lead the young Wildcats.
But Whalen has gotten a lot of help recently from Najee Pritchett, the MVP of the R&L Holiday Classic who scored 26 points in the tournament championship.
Senior forwards Chris Patterson and Carter Jones and guard Luke Smith have also improved dramatically in their roles of late.
Lake Norman, which dropped three of its first four league games, needs a win to keep pace with the top tier of the I-Meck. The Wildcats have the talent to hang with Mooresville but don't want to get into a track meet.
If the Wildcats keep the game at a medium pace and continue to get solid contributions from Patterson, Pritchett and others to help Whalen, there is no reason Lake Norman couldn't be in the game in the closing minutes.
Either way, the winner will take a lot of momentum into the heart of the I-Meck schedule.