Garinger High coach Joshua Coley watched his team lose two regular-season games to nationally ranked Olympic by a combined 68 points.
So heading into the teams N.C. 4A second round playoff meeting Wednesday night, Coley decided to try to shake things up. He had 7-foot, 250-pound freshman center Raekwon Long guard Olympics 5-8 senior point guard Jevon Patton.
Long tried to play off Patton, using his length to hopefully force Patton to slow down and have trouble getting his shot off or trouble running the Trojans offense.
Problem was, neither thing happened.
Patton scored 26 of his season-high 32 points in the first half of an easy-as-it-sounds 105-53 runaway. Olympic, No. 1 in the Observers Sweet 16 poll, got out to a 14-4 lead with Patton scoring eight of those points. Long gave him the jump shot, and Patton had a whole lot of trouble missing any.
Olympic (26-0) led 25-12 at the end of the first quarter, 57-26 at halftime and 88-43 at the end of the third quarter when Trojans coach Ty Baumgardner sat Patton and the rest of his regulars down for the night. And Baumgardner said he was a little surprised by the Wildcats defensive strategy.
A little bit yeah, he said. But hey, it worked out good for us. I was a little shocked, but hey, they needed to try something different, so why not I guess?
Olympic is 82-4 over the past three seasons and is now one game away from a third straight berth in the N.C. 4A Western Regionals, where the Trojans have never won a game.
The Trojans, however, have won their past five games by a combined 132 points and appear to be playing their best basketball of the season. The Trojans will play Mallard Creek in the sectional finals Friday at home.
Its fun to watch, isnt it? Baumgardner said of his teams play. But I dont know that it was anything special tonight.
Patton had four assists and four steals to go with his 32-point outburst. Akron recruit B.J. Gladden - a 6-6 senior who is the sixth man -- had 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals. C.J. Jackson (11) and Quincy Eaddy also scored in double figures.
Garinger had 19 points from Keith Davis, and Long finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. But the Wildcats struggled mightily with Olympics full court pressure defense and the speed with which the Trojans played the entire game.
Thats what weve been doing all year, Baumgardner said. Weve guarded like that all year. Weve shared the ball like that all year. Weve got guys who can shoot. Most teams have one guy, or maybe two. Weve got multiple guys who can shoot. But dont get me wrong, thats a good performance for the second round of the state playoffs.
And if youve got to play the Trojans in this tournament, its a very scary one, too.
Garinger 12 14 17 10 -- 53
Olympic 25 32 31 17 -- 105
GARINGER 53 -- Brewer 2, Eison 6, Hancock 6, Thomas 2, Gamble 2, Raekwon Long 11, Keith Davis 19, Morris 5
OLYMPIC 105 -- Parks 7, Jevon Patton 32, CJ Jackson 11, Simmons 5, Mitchell 8, Harris 3, Ray-Campbell 3, BJ Gladden 13, Quincy Eaddy 10, Grier 7, Olenga 6