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Myers Park’s Rydeiah Rogers puts on state championship performance

RALEIGH Myers Park’s Rydeiah Rogers, playing Saturday night on the N.C. State campus, turned in one of the best performances ever by a Mecklenburg County player in a state championship game.

Rogers had 25 points, 20 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in the Mustangs’ 61-46 win over Southeast Raleigh. It was one of the best I’ve seen from a county player in the championship round since Jason Parker’s 38-point, 12-rebound game in the 1999 boys’ state final for West Charlotte. Rogers’ 20 rebounds is the third-most ever for a girls player in the final and a record for a Mecklenburg County girl.

Kennedy Meeks had 21 for West Charlotte’s boys in 2012.

And Rydeiah did it while playing in front of her father, Rodney Rogers, the former Wake Forest All-American and former NBA sixth man of the year who was paralyzed after a dirt bike accident in 2008. He watched his daughter’s magnificent performance wearing jeans and a white Wake Forest hat, just behind the basket where Myers Park scored 30 points in the second half.

And after the game was over, Rydeiah Rogers accepted the championship game MVP trophy and ran over to share a special moment with her father. Rydeiah Rogers became the first member of her very successful sports family to win a high school state title. Her sister, Roddreka, reached the state semifinals in her senior year but lost. Roddreka, who was also at Saturday’s game, is now a sophomore playing at Georgia Tech.

“I’m real proud of (Rydeiah),” Rodney Rogers said. “I never won a high school state championship. Her sister never won one. It was really special for me to be here and see this.”

Rydeiah Rogers said she had a feeling early on that it was going to be her night. A 6-foot-1 junior ranked among the nation’s top 60 players, she dominated the inside. She blocked four shots but altered about three times as many. She also seemed to be at the right place at the right time whenever there was a loose ball or an errant pass. She would stick her extra long arms up and snag passes that looked like sure turnovers and turned those into points.

She’s not the ball-dominant star that past state championship heroes from Mecklenburg County have been – players such as West Charlotte’s Christal Caldwell, Butler’s Cierra Burdick and South Mecklenburg’s Joy Cheek in public school or Providence Day’s Natasha Brackett, Epiphany Woodson and Konecka Drakeford in private school. Yet in the biggest moments, Rogers has been just as good.

In last week’s N.C. 4A Western Regional, she had 23 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks in two games, leading Myers Park past West Forsyth and Ardrey Kell – probably the No. 2 team in North Carolina. Rogers was named MVP of the Western Regional, too.

“I did something my father and sister never did,” she said after the game Saturday. “It felt great to take the trophy to my dad. It was a special moment I got to share with him and the rest of my family.”

Rogers said she felt it would be her night – and her team’s night – from the start. An early 14-2 lead did nothing to change her opinion. Or her teammates’.

“DD,” teammate Saadia Timpton said, using Rogers’ nickname. “Oh my gosh! I don’t know what to say. She rebounded. She scored. She was encouraging. She kept her head. I was telling her the whole game, ‘I see you, DD. I see you.’

Everyone did. You couldn’t help it.

Wertz: (704) 612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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