by Chris Hunt
On Jan. 4, the Vikings returned to I-MECK 4A conference play after the Holiday break to defeat Mallard Creek, 58-52. The victory improved North Meck’s record to 12-2, 3-1 in the I-MECK 4A, but it was more than just a conference win over the high-scoring Mavericks.
The Vikings won without leading scorer Carlin Bremner, who sprained his ankle in the third game of the Greenville County Christmas Tournament, held in Greensville, South Carolina Dec. 28-30. Bremner averaged more than 20 points per game in the three-day event and made the all-tournament team, but that was of little consolation to the injured shooting guard.
North Meck coach Duane Lewis said Bremner could be out somewhere between one to four weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain. A picture taken after the game showed Bremner’s ankle had swollen up to the size of a baseball, but a medical evaluation confirmed he did not have any broken bones.
“I think we’ll find out a lot about this team starting this week against Mallard Creek and Vance (on Jan. 7) because Bremner is out,” said Lewis prior to the Vikings’ victory over the Mavericks. “We can’t replace Carlin, but I’m not worried about replacing his scoring; I’m worried about replacing his ball handling. We got to see if someone will step up. It’s easier to get one more basket out of everyone than deal with the defensive pressure in this league. Mallard Creek and Vance are going to pressure the ball. Mooresville’s athletic and they are going to pressure the ball. Hopewell presses, so that’s the deal, not scoring.”
In South Carolina, the Vikings won two out of their three holiday games. North Meck blew out Greenville Tech, 91-38, in the first round and Greenville Carolina High, 82-53, on Day 3, but fell to a stout Simpsonville Hillcrest squad, 73-52, in the second round. Hillcrest hit 16 of its last 19 free throws to hold off the Vikings’ late surge.
“Naturally everyone wants to win the tournament, but it went well for us,” said Lewis. “I thought we got better. Hillcrest was really good; they were comparable to a West Charlotte team with three 6-foot-6 kids. It was kind of like our loss to West Charlotte where we caused more turnovers but it was one of those games where (shots) wouldn’t go in for us.
“We came back the next day and responded well to the loss, which was huge. We played with a sense of purpose (against Carolina High), so I was pretty pleased.”