Coming into this year's basketball season, Brandon Bego knew he had big shoes to fill.
The Mooresville senior would not only have to replace three-year starter Isaiah Johnson, but also learn to play point guard for the first time in his career.
The natural shooting guard, 18, would also be expected to direct a potent Mooresville offense with big expectations surrounding UNC Charlotte signee Shawn Lester, as well as senior forwards Kendrick Johnson and Dre Howell and sophomore center Ralph Montgomery.
These expectations, in a loaded I-Meck conference, put a lot of pressure on Bego before he ever played a game at the point.
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Bego relishes the opportunity to prove he could thrive in difficult situations.
"I want to see if I can be a great point guard, and I'm working on that every game," he said. "It's a great challenge for me to have the ball most of the time and to be a coach on the floor."
Mooresville basketball coach Michael Micklow says it is a work in progress.
"Brandon accepted the responsibility like a man, and he has really had to adjust his role, but he has embraced it," Micklow said. "But even though he moved over to point guard, we still want him to look for his shot and play his game. But he also has to be in control of the offense and get the ball to all of our weapons."
In the season opener against Statesville, Bego poured in 31 points going 10-for-16 from the field in an 82-77 loss.
Mooresville had an up-and-down December, as the team's football players made the transition to the hardwood. They started to find themselves mid-way through the month.
Bego and the Blue Devils had their best game of the early season as they beat defending 4A state champion West Charlotte on the road, 69-67 in overtime. Bego was the star of the game, scoring a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers.
Down 64-63 with 1:31 to play in overtime, Lester found a wide-open Bego on the wing. Bego calmly rose and, despite being fouled, drained his three-point attempt and converted his free-throw for a four-point play and the lead.
"Brandon has had some big moments this season already when it really mattered," said Micklow. "I think the Statesville and West Charlotte games surprised even him a bit. But he needs to take that confidence and keep playing with it every game."
Bego, who averaged five points per game off the bench last season, has already doubled his output, scoring 12 points a game while averaging three assists. At 6-foot-1, 145 pounds, he has learned to use his speed when people play up on him and his jump shot when they lay off.
Bego has also learned when to look for himself, as teams often focus their defensive efforts on Lester, Johnson and others.
"When you have as many weapons as we do, it makes life a lot easier on me as a point guard," Bego said.
The Mooresville offense, which has made big strides in the last few weeks with wins against Hopewell and Vance to move the Blue Devils (7-4, 3-1) into a four-way, first-place tie going into last Friday's game against Hough.
Mooresville also got big wins in the CSS Hardwood Classic over the holidays, beating Ardrey Kell and Davidson Day before falling to Northside Christian in the final.
Those results have Bego and his teammates thinking about bigger and better things in the last two months of the season.
"I feel like we have the talent and skill to go as far as we want to go," Bego said. "We won't be happy with just making the playoffs. We are thinking about winning it all, not only the conference but in the state."
As Mooresville makes its way into the brunt of their I-Meck schedule, the Blue Devils and Bego know they still have a lot to prove.
Bego hopes that he can also earn some college interest.
"But I just have to focus on playing my game on the court and let everything else take care of itself," said Bego.