CORNELIUS – Hough High’s Mike Hart began the lacrosse season as a marked man.

He’d scored 38 and 51 goals the previous two seasons, so defenders had the same game plan against the Huskies – stop Hart. Despite the attention, Hart was Hough’s scoring leader, with 59 goals and 28 assists.

He is The Herald Weekly Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.

Hart, a senior, said having talented teammates made the Huskies a better squad. Hough was 10-8 overall and finished third in Conference 10 with a 7-5 record.

“We really worked well as a team,” Hart said. “It wasn’t a one-man game. We had a lot of younger players step up. It helped take the pressure off me. In the past, I always heard “Guard (jersey) No. 1, guard Mike, guard Mike.”

While Hart remained the top scoring option, he wasn’t the only option.

“When I didn’t have to shoot or move around so much, it gave me an opportunity to save my legs,” he said. “Other guys could score, and it was nice knowing I had buys backing me up.”

Hart opened the season with a five-goal outburst against Raleigh Bishop McGuinness. He had six-goal games against Mooresville and Myers Park, as well as a season-high seven goals in a victory against Kannapolis Brown.

Hart’s 59 goals were 30 more than any teammate. His 28 assists were also a team-high. Hart scored goals in 17 of 18 games and had an assist in 16 of 18 games.

He helped form a legacy for third-year Hough, which improved its record every season and finished better than .500 for the first time. Hart signed to play next season at SUNY-Cortland, an NCAA Division II school about 30 miles south of Syracuse, N.Y.

“I really have to step up my game,” he said. “I’ve been working out six days a week this summer. The school’s in the heart of lacrosse country, and they’re going to see a kid from North Carolina and maybe think I can’t play. But I don’t like sitting the bench.”