“Battle of the Lakes,” Lake Norman vs. Mooresville, a matchup that promises to keep the audience on their toes.

Phenom traveled to Mooresville, North Carolina, to cover the electrifying matchup between Greater Metro 4A rivals Lake Norman High School and Mooresville High School. Separated by six miles, Lake Norman entered the contest with a formidable 15-1 (4-0) record, while Mooresville sported a respectable 12-5 (4-1). Playing in front of a near-capacity crowd, the atmosphere was charged with anticipation, and the two cross-town rivals promised an exhilarating game as Mooresville led Lake Norman 11-8 at the end of the first quarter. Despite a sluggish start, the intense action kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Both teams gathered momentum in the second quarter, finding a smoother and more fluid flow to the game. Lake Norman led Mooresville 34-29 at the half, outscoring them 26-18. 

The well-balanced Lake Norman team was firing on all cylinders in the second half, racing to a commanding 62-42 lead at the end of the third quarter. With its arsenal of offensive weapons, Lake Norman cruised to an impressive 89-52 victory. 6’5 junior Tre McKinnon, a rising star, finished with an impressive 26 points and seven rebounds. The athletic wing has made significant strides under the leadership of head coach Grant Hodges and is a high priority for mid-major schools. Sporting an offer from Appalachian State, assistant coach Tanner Smith was in attendance for the impressive overall performance. 6’10 junior Trent Steinour has also elevated his game and recorded yet another double-double, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocked shots, earning the audience’s admiration. 

In speaking with head coach Armard Moore, he was without the services of 6’3 Eian Bailey and 6’5 Christian Wilson, alternating starters and the team’s leading rebounders. 5’9 junior Kyri Wilson led the way with 13 points but impressed us with his relentless hustle and overall defensive play. 6’8 junior Dylan Clark, 6’3 junior Bryson Clark, and 6’3 senior Jalen Chambers all chipped in with eight points. 

Three that mattered

6’5 junior Tre McKinnon (Lake Norman)

In speaking with head coach Grant Hodges, he has been singing the praises of the athletic junior wing, and his performance Tuesday night showed just that. McKinnon has high-level athleticism and was constantly playing above the rim. He knocked down three consecutive three-pointers in the second half and made some thunderous dunks in transition. McKinnon’s overall game is still evolving, and he is becoming a more complete player, especially stepping it up on the defensive end of the court. 

6’10 junior Trent Steinour (Lake Norman)

Trent Steinour has ACC offers from Clemson and Wake Forest, and he’s only beginning to scratch the surface of his long-range potential and upside. The mobile and fluid “Big” has excellent hands, nifty footwork in the paint, and runs the floor exceptionally well. In one sequence, he blocked a shot on the defensive end, raced up the court, and was rewarded with a timely pass for a layup. Steinour can step out and knock down 3-pointers, but his ability to run the floor will have major high schools salivating over his services. As stated earlier, Steinour finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocked shots. 

5’11 sophomore Nick Arnold (Lake Norman)

Talk about the heart and soul of the Lake Norman team and is only a sophomore! Arnold finished with eight points, seven rebounds, seven steals, and five assists for an excellent all-around game. We were impressed with his hustle and aggressive on-ball defensive pressure. Arnold has tremendous lateral quickness and may be one of the state’s better defenders, not to mention one of the best rebounding point guards. 

What’s at stake

Lake Norman travels to Hickory Ridge on Thursday night and has another road game against Cox Mill, two dangerous teams in the Greater Metro 4A. If Lake Norman can win on the road against Hickory Ridge and Cox Mill, they should easily run the table for an undefeated regular season championship. Currently, Lake Norman is ranked No. 1 in the NCHSAA 4A RPI ranking and No. 2 in the Max Prep 4A rankings. To put it mildly, Lake Norman controls their destiny and the important NCHSAA State Championship seeding is at stake. 

Coach Grant Hodges (Lake Norman)

Coach Hodges has built Lake Norman into a state 4A powerhouse. He challenged his team early with tough non-conference games to help prepare his team for a state playoff run. While defending NCHSAA 4A champs, Myers Park and North Mecklenburg are the overwhelming favorites this current season, but a starting lineup with only one senior (Santana Lynch), Lake Norman could become the proverbial “dark horse” team, even though they may be one year away from being the heavy favorite in 2024-25. Coach Hodges loves competition and the tougher the opponent, the better! 

Coach Armard Moore (Mooresville)

Coach Moore’s grandmother passed away two-days ago and speculation grew if he would be able to coach the game. That being said, Coach Moore was in attendance and didn’t let his team down. Coach Moore has done a tremendous job at Mooresville High School. He has taken over a traditional football school and inherited a dormant basketball program into one of the better teams in the Greater Metro 4A. While his teams have been somewhat undersized, they are tough, scrappy and have outplayed their overall talent level, which is a testament to Coach Moore.