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MEGA-7 Championship: Boys: Olympic 72, Berry Academy 50; Girls: Harding 73, Berry Academy 65

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Olympic jumps out, defends well

By Herb White
Correspondent

Olympic High didn’t need to go to the wire to wrap up the MEGA-7 boys’ basketball championship.

The unbeaten Trojans ran their record to 24-0 Friday with a 72-50 win against Berry Academy at Charlotte Catholic a night after a come-from-behind victory against the tournament host. Olympic wasted no time jumping on Berry (13-13) with four C.J. Jackson three-pointers to grab a 24-11 lead after one quarter. The Trojans’ defense took care of the rest, knocking the Cardinals’ offense off-kilter and never giving Berry and opportunity to climb into contention in the league’s final tournament as a 3A-4A conference.

“I thought we set the tone in the first quarter, without a doubt,” Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner said. “I was pleased with that because I was a little concerned what kind of effort we’d come out with after a hard-fought game last night but we responded.”

Three Trojans scored in double-figures, paced by Jackson’s 19 points. B.J. Gladden added 16 and Jevon Patton knocked down 12. Berry’s Caz’mon Hayes, a Delaware signee, led all scorers with 20 points, the only Cardinal to break double-digits.

Olympic grew its advantage as the game unfolded, using defensive pressure to force Berry mistakes and push the ball into the open court for fast-break baskets or find open shooters behind the arc. The Trojans led by as many as 26 points and played with the confidence of a team on a mission.

“It’s a championship game, so I wasn’t worried,” Baumgardner said. “If you can’t get excited about a championship game, I can’t help you.”

Harding’s girls are 3-0 in the Battle of Alleghany after completed the season sweep of neighborhood rival Berry with a 73-65 win in the title game. Harding, which improved to 19-4 with its 14th straight win, shook off Berry’s opening salvo by turning to a familiar theme of defense and power offense.

“It’s a great feeling and the ladies worked real hard,” Rams coach Anthony Jones said. “It’s a great feeling to go out like this. It’s something I’ve never experienced on this level. I’m really excited.”

All five Rams starters hit double-figures, paced by guard Ralisha Currence’s 20 points and center Brianna Hamrick’s 19. Freshman center Rashika White topped Berry with 16 points, followed by Wake Forest signee Milan Quinn’s 15 and Imani Parr’s 11.

Berry started strong, taking a 20-9 first-quarter lead behind White’s eight points, but Harding clawed its way back in the second with Myicha Drakeford (13 points) and Hamrick providing the 1-2 punch. Both scored nine points to push the Rams into a 35-32 advantage at the break, with Drakeford’s drives to the lane complementing Hamrick’s dominance in the paint. With White picking up her third foul early in the second, the Cardinals turned to Quinn, who scored seven points.

“We really had to dig in,” Jones said. “Berry came out at us hard and they had us rocking for a second but they got their composure, settled down and played some good basketball.”

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