By Corey Inscoe
The North Mecklenburg Vikings boys’ basketball team had a 33-31 lead over the West Charlotte Lions at halftime Tuesday. Viking guard Shivaughn Wiggins kept driving to the basket and getting easy layups, scoring 16 points in the first half.
Coming out of the locker room, the Lions were determined to put a stop to it.
With tough defense and two third quarter runs, the Lions (15-5, 7-2) beat the Sweet 16 No. 2 Vikings 70-64 in front of a large home crowd and moved into a tie for first place in the I-Meck conference.
With two wins over the Vikings (16-3, 7-2) on the season, the Lions hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“We wanted to step up our defensive pressure in the second half and stop them from driving the ball into the lane,” said West Charlotte’s Michael Brown. The Lions paid particular attention to Wiggins. “That’s what we were focused on.”
West Charlotte, ranked No. 5 in the Observer Sweet 16, held Wiggins to just two points in the third quarter.
North Meck pushed the tempo from the opening tip, when Rashaan Brown scored on a one-handed dunk in the first 10 seconds of the game. The Vikings used pressure defense and transition offense to get turnovers and easy baskets in the first quarter, but couldn’t pull away from West Charlotte. The Lions led 16-15 after the first quarter.
When North Meck tried to extend the lead in the second quarter, West Charlotte’s Mark Blackmon (18 points) hit three 3-pointers in a row to tie the game at 27.
The Lions started the third quarter on an 8-0 run and had a 12-2 run to end the period and take a 51-40 lead into the final quarter.
Brown, a senior, took over in the second half, scoring 14 points after halftime. He finished with a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds.
“I was pumped for this game, I was ready,” said Brown. “I just wanted to come out and play hard.”
Kennedy Meeks added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Lions.
Wiggins led all scorers with 28.
The win was West Charlotte’s fourth straight after an upset loss to Lake Norman. Now the Lions are in position to win the regular season conference championship with just five games left in the season.
“It was very important for us to come out and get the win because we don’t want to go into the playoffs with the No. 2 seed,” said Brown.