Ten minutes after Friday's 59-55 overtime win at South Mecklenburg, the best high school game I've seen in five years, the West Charlotte Lions glided into the Sabres' visitors' locker room, got dressed and then they gathered in a circle.
All the players and coaches locked arms and everybody bowed their heads.
Next, coach Baronton Terry led a 2-minute, 23-second prayer, where he sounded every bit the part of an old Baptist preacher, asking God to watch over his team, to bring it closer, to not let any outside influences harm what is the team's ultimate goal: a repeat 4A state title.
And after Terry was done, and everyone said "Amen," the players gathered in a smaller circle, each player raising one fist in the air. The fists all came together in the center of the circle -- and then one of the Lions led the team in another prayer.
"That's just what we do," Lions shooting guard Mike Brown said. "We pray a lot and hopefully it'll help us win. We've done it ever since coach Terry has been here. We pray every day after practice, and (coach Terry) leads us in one before and after every game. It's just us. Like I said, it's what we do."
• Terry coached at South Mecklenburg before coming to West Charlotte. Current Sabres coach John Fitch was his assistant.
"That was one of the hardest things for me, to coach against my good friend John Fitch," Terry said. "I coached his son. Playing against him was a big deal."
• If you're looking for a state title contender for 2013, you can start with South Mecklenburg. The Sabres have a keeper of a coach in Fitch and a returning front court of 6-foot-9 Philip Reed and 6-9 Malcolm Mathews.
Mathews, especially, looks like a player. He needs to get stronger, but he has an amazing post presence and is a great shot-blocker. He caused lots of problems for West Charlotte center Kennedy Meeks for most of Friday's game.
• I remember when Mecklenburg County public schools girls' basketball was bad.
In 1986, a phenom named Andrea Stinson -- one of the five best girls to ever play basketball in North Carolina -- led North Mecklenburg to a perfect season and a state title.
It was 20 years before Mecklenburg got another champion, when McDonald's All-American Joy Cheek led South Meck to a title in 2006. The years in between were lean.
But since the Sabres' title, Mecklenburg County has regularly sent multiple teams to the regional playoffs and has been represented in four of the past six 4A finals.
Unbeaten Myers Park will try to extend that run this year in 4A, and Berry and Harding will try to make history, to become the first 3A Mecklenburg team to reach the championship round.