Senior Ryan Scott envisioned his future on the Lake Norman basketball team nearly a decade ago.
Scott was a regular at the "Little Wildcat" summer basketball camps that started when the school opened in 2002. He not only got to know Lake Norman basketball coaches and players, but also honed the skills that one day would make him a Wildcat.
Scott, who has been in the Lake Norman program for four year, has awaited his turn.
As a junior varsity standout, Scott had an inside look at the varsity Wildcats at the pinnacle of their success, as they won the 4A state title in 2010.
"I definitely learned a lot from watching guys like Kevin Canevari, Reggie Price and Paul Larsen," Scott said of the core of the state championship team. "We knew after those guys left that we would have our work cut out to try and live up to those teams."
Scott made the transition to varsity last season, when he came off the bench to average five points a game. But the team struggled, winning only eight games and finishing last in the I-Meck 4A.
"Last year, I really focused on just trying to be a spark off the bench," said Scott. "But it was tough because we never really developed the right chemistry. Everybody spent most of the year trying to learn their roles."
After enduring the rebuilding year, Jolly, Scott and the Wildcats started this season 4-0, with blowout wins against Statesville, North Iredell, South Iredell and West Iredell, giving the Wildcats a reason to be excited.
Even after coming back to reality in conference losses to North Meck, Mallard Creek and Hopewell, the Wildcats (6-4) are starting to find their identity. They beat South Iredell before dropping a game to Statesville at the Record & Landmark Holiday Classic championship last week.
"We got off to a great start, and then struggled a little bit in conference," Scott said. "But I feel like we've started to get our confidence back, and we just need to keep everybody motivated."
Scott has been the catalyst for his team, averaging 13 points, three rebounds and four assists per game from his wing spot.
Scott had his best game of the young season against South Iredell last week, scoring 20 points and going 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line to lead his team to a 49-35 win.
"Ryan Scott does a little bit of everything for this team," said Lake Norman basketball coach Brandon Jolly. "He's one of our main offensive weapons, but if his shot isn't falling, he will find a way to be effective. He does all the little things well."
Scott has a good supporting cast: Senior co-captains Davis Emerson, Cole Haynes, Carter Jones and Patrick Gibson all contribute. Junior center Troy Warren has also played a key role.
While the team is getting better, Jolly said a big key is getting the ball inside to Jones and Warren. Both are shooting around 70 percent from the field, so they can open things up for Scott, Emerson and the other perimeter players.
"We're coming together as a team," Jolly said. "But we need to show we can compete for four quarters, all 32 minutes, not just in two-, three-minute bursts."
Both Scott and Jolly want get the Wildcats back to the playoffs. That means they will have to claw their way back into the upper half of a loaded I-Meck conference.
Scott, 18, said he hopes to attract some college interest with his play.
While Scott has a lot on the line for himself and his team, he will still focus on playing the same game he's played since he was a little boy.
"I never really change anything about my game," Scott said. "I go out there every night and try to go 110 percent all of the time, full speed. I want to do whatever helps my team win, and that's what I will continue to do."