The No. 1 Olympic basketball team hadn't lost a game all season, going 25-0, and had also won 52 straight ME-GA 7 3A/4Aconference games, a streak that dates back nearly four years.
Friday night, all of those streaks came to an end, as No. 3 Harding outlasted the Trojans 61-55 in overtime to take the ME-GA 7 3A/4A tournament title at Berry Academy.
Harding (22-4) had lost two regular season contests to Olympic (65-62 and 63-62) by a combined four points. But the third meeting proved to be a charm for the Rams.
"I really can't explain how I feel right now it is so great," Harding basketball coach Walt Aikens said. "Our guys persevered through everything all year and then everything tonight. We always believed we could beat Olympic and we willed ourselves to this win."
After leading for the most of the game, Harding started to crack late in the third quarter as Olympic seemed to gain momentum going on a 12-0 to end the third and start the fourth quarter turning a six-point deficit into a 43-37 lead.
But as he had done all night, Harding senior Jarvis Haywood (a Waddell High transfer this year) came up big, scoring his team's last eight points in regulation to tie the game at 49 and send the game into overtime.
Haywood led the Rams with 26 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks on the night and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
"It's feels so good to finally beat Olympic because I've been trying to do it my whole career," Haywood said. "I wanted it so bad tonight and to play this way in the championship is just unbelievable."
Olympic again looked like it could come back and win in overtime as junior standout Allerik Freeman, who has more than 20 Division I scholarship offers, scored the first four points in the extra session to give the Trojans a 53-49 lead.
But Haywood converted a three-point play with 46.3 seconds left to give his team the lead back for good, a part of an 11-0 run that turned the game from a 53-49 deficit to a 60-53 advantage with 30 seconds left.
"We just didn't execute the way we have all year," Freeman said, who led his team with 20 points. "But as tough as this loss is, we have to look at what did wrong and learn from it and move on. Hopefully, this will make us a better team."