TROUTMAN -- Anywhere else and this might have been considered a rebuilding year. So far it's not looking like it at Lake Norman, a program that's been well-run and produced good talent over the years.
Despite four of five returning starters having transferred to other schools, Lake Norman is off to a 2-0 start. The Wildcats easily dispatched South Iredell on Friday, 69-52. That victory followed last week's 82-35 rout of West Rowan in the season opener.
"We've got guys that have that next man up mentality," Wildcats coach Brandon Jolly said. "They come to practice everyday and work hard. When their number is called they're ready to play. It's about these guys. That's what is important."
Lake Norman turned a 32-24 halftime lead into a 22-point stranglehold when it outscored the Vikings 23-9 in the third quarter.
"I thought we played well despite some flaws," Jolly said. "They competed and played with a lot of energy all night, and that made up for some shortcomings."
DIAGNOSING THE SETBACK
The Vikings (2-1) now are looking to bounce back from their first loss after beginning the campaign with wins over Bunker Hill and Mooresville.
It was the manner in which they lost that bothered South Iredell coach Mike Dodson.
"We were undisciplined," he said. "They boxed out better. They executed better.
"Part of it is a lack of practice with the whole team," added Dodson, who only recently added his players who also were members of the football team. "But we were undisciplined. You better believe we'll fix it."
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Zane Haglan, Lake Norman's lone returning starter, tossed in a game-high 24 points, moving the senior guard within three of 1,000 for his career which, coincidently, began at South Iredell.
Haglan whipped the Lake Norman fans into a frenzy with a sensational closing sequence to the third quarter. He knocked down a pair of free throws, then stole the inbounds pass and canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Jolly gave him a big hug as Haglan made his way to the bench. That five-point swing sent the Wildcats into the fourth quarter leading 55-33. The 22-point advantage was the biggest of the night.
Lake Norman's Dominic Adams supplied 12 points and eight rebounds on the interior. Even though he picked up two early fouls, Zach Shulz contributed nine points, five rebounds and three steals.
Greg Liechty led the Vikings with 15 points. Lake Norman limited the dangerous sharpshooter to three 3-pointers, and two of those were scored in the final minute with the outcome not in doubt. The Wildcats defended the perimeter well.
"We wanted to key on him," Jolly said. "I think when they beat us 100-94 last season he hit five or six 3s. We've been emphasizing 'D', and they boys are getting better everyday."
Derrek Dulin came off the bench to provide nine points for the Vikings.
The Wildcats finish their nonconference home-and-home series when they travel to Mt. Ulla on Dec. 7 for a rematch with West Rowan.
South Iredell is back in action on Dec. 6. The Vikings will be at West Iredell.
Lauren Sullivan pumped in 13 of her game-high 18 points after halftime Friday, leading Lake Norman to its first win of the season, 51-25 over South Iredell. The Wildcats outscored the Vikings 33-11 in the second half.
Lake Norman (1-1) collected 20 points from its reserves. Megan Gaus and Jaz Lowe each came off the bench to provide seven points. Lowe also had six rebounds, as did Sullivan.
Lydia Mercer paced the Vikings (1-2). She finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four steals. Shania Houser contributed nine points in a substitute role, and Emma Heiligenthaler pulled down a game-best nine rebounds.
Lake Norman 69, South Iredell 52
LAKE NORMAN (69): Zane Haglan 24, Dominic Adams 12, Schulz 9, Edmonson 8, Welsh 6, Hodges 4, Rossi 4, Courtney 2.
SOUTH IREDELL (52): Greg Liechty 15, Dulin 9, Oglietti 6, Aeschliman 6, Dowdy 5, Edds 5, Everhart 4, Labelle 2.
Lake Norman 51, South Iredell 25
LAKE NORMAN (51); Lauren Sullivan 18, Gaus 7, Lowe 7, Saunders 5, Dancy 5, Kennedy 3, Zeigler 3, Hardison 3.
SOUTH IREDELL (25): Lydia Mercer 11, Houser 9, King 2, Bell 2, Labelle 1.