Two Mecklenburg County teams will try to make history in Saturdays N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships.
Olympics boys are 29-0, ranked No. 1 in The Observers Sweet 16 and as high as No. 4 nationally. The Trojans face Raleigh Broughton in Saturdays 7:30 p.m. 4A championship game in Chapel Hill.
No Mecklenburg County boys public school team has finished the season unbeaten since West Charlotte in 1986.
Hardings girls are 23-4 and have won 18 straight games. The Rams, who won the 2012 state championship, are the first Mecklenburg County girls team to reach back-to-back finals since West Charlotte in 2008 and 09. The Lions lost to Fayetteville Westover in 2008 and beat Durham Hillside in 2009.
Harding will face Chapel Hill at 5 p.m. at N.C. State with a chance to do something no county team has ever done: win back-to-back NCHSAA titles.
Harding coach Anthony Jones thinks his team is ready to make history.
I feel it can be done, he said. Im excited about it. But thats not my focus. My focus is to put the best team out there and if they do it, they deserve it. Theyve worked hard and I think theyll go after it.
Chapel Hill (30-1) is in the finals for the first time since 1981, when it beat Elon 67-46 under current coach Sherry Norris. Chapel Hill, ranked No. 1 in the N.C. 3A media poll, has won 17 straight games. The Tigers only loss is to Northern Nash.
Harding hasnt lost this calendar year after dropping a pair of Christmas tournament games in December.
When we lost in the Christmas tournament, Jones said, they took a couple days off and they were ready to get back in the gym. They showed me they were serious about this. I said, Were going to take a few more days off. They wanted to get back in the gym earlier than I did. So we did that.
Olympic will try to win the schools first team sport championship in 25 years. The girls slow-pitch softball team won the 1988 state championship, and its the only team sports title Olympic has in its 47-year history.
In 1970, the Trojans football team lost 14-0 in the state final to Raleigh Broughton the same school the basketball team plays for the title Saturday.
And in 1986, West Charlotte beat Raleigh Broughton 67-66 in overtime.
That is unbelievable, Trojans coach Ty Baumgardner said after hearing about the history. Thats surreal. Its kind of neat, too. I just hope were as fortunate as West Charlotte was. I know were playing a really good team.
Broughton is in the state final for the first time since the West Charlotte loss 27 years ago, led by Appalachian State signee Devonte Graham and Naval Academy recruit James Hemphill. Graham (15.7 ppg, 5.5 agp, 3.7 rpg) was the Cap-8 conference player of the year.
Olympic will try to combat that with five players who average double figures and what Baumgardner said is a special focus to win the ring.
I dont think people realize how hard it is to get to this point, Baumgardner said. This is our first time in 47 years. That says a little bit right there. You look around the state and theres some traditionally strong basketball powers like Kinston and West Charlotte who have gone (to the finals) multiple times over the history of their school. But theres not a lot of them. So for us to get here for the first time is truly very special.
Saturdays High School Basketball Championship Schedule
What: 99th annual boys NCHSAA basketball championships; 42nd annual girls state championships
Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill (2A, 4A); Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh (1A, 3A)
Tickets: $10 at the gate.
Championships on TV: All championship games will air live on Time Warner Cable Special Events Channels 520 or 521, with the exception of the 4A boys and girls finals, which will air live on News 14. The games will also be streamed live on news14.com
At Chapel Hill
• 2A Girls: Kinston (26-4) vs. Canton Pisgah (26-6), noon
• 2A Boys: Kinston (27-2) vs. Cuthbertson (29-3), 2:30 p.m.
• 4A Girls: Raleigh Millbrook (32-0) vs. Greensboro Page (28-1), 5 p.m.
• 4A Boys: Raleigh Broughton (27-5) vs. Olympic (29-0), 7:30 p.m.
• 1A Girls: Graham River Mill (28-3) vs. Bishop McGuinness (24-7), noon
• 1A Boys: Rocky Mount Prep (24-3) vs. Winston-Salem Prep (31-1), 2:30 p.m.
• 3A Girls: Chapel Hill (30-1) vs. Harding (23-4), 5 p.m.
• 3A Boys: Oxford Webb (26-5) vs. Statesville (25-3), 7:30 p.m.