|The final step|
|Harding girls, Olympic boys seek state titles, history|
|Published Thursday, March 14, 2013 7:20 am|
Harding High’s girls and Olympic’s boys are chasing history in Saturday’s N.C. high school basketball finals.
|Harding High, which is on an 18-game win streak, is playing its best basketball of the season heading into the N.C. 3A girls final against Chapel Hill. A major reason for the Rams’ success is center Brianna Hamrick, (42) who averages 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.|
Harding’s Rams, 23-4 and winner of 18 straight games, is a win against Chapel Hill away from repeating as 3A champions and the first Mecklenburg team to earn consecutive titles. They’ll play Saturday at 5 p.m. at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.
Olympic (29-0) plays Raleigh Broughton (27-5) at 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
Harding kept its season alive by rallying for a 51-50 win against Tuscola in the Western Region finals with its defense sparking the comeback. The Rams trailed 33-22 at halftime, but outscored Tuscola 29-17 over the final 16 minutes to advance, including a 20-11 third quarter to climb into contention.
Harding, which averages 57.6 points per game, has four players who average double figures. The Rams’ top scorer, small forward Myicha Drakeford, averages 15.9 points and shoots 51.1 percent from the floor. Center Brianna Hamrick is Harding’s top post player; she averages 13.1 points per game and connects on 59.1 percent of her attempts in addition to pulling down 8.8 rebounds per game. Guards Ralisha Currence and Abrea Harris average 11.5 and 10.9 points per game respectively. Harris is the Rams’ most effective three-point shooter at 54 percent (13-of-24) while Currence hits 46 percent beyond the arc (11-of-24).
Chapel Hill (30-1) averages 68.3 points per game and is led by the trio of Jamella Smith (11.9 points per game), Raziyah Farrington (10.7 ppg) and Catherine Romaine (10.6 ppg). The Tigers are defense-oriented as well, averaging 19.8 steals per game compared to Harding’s 7.7.
Olympic, which is ranked fourth in the nation according to MaxPreps, is looking to finish off an unbeaten season, which hasn’t happened in Mecklenburg County since West Charlotte’s boys in 1986. The Trojans, who beat Mount Tabor 69-64 in the West Region final, have a balanced attack led by senior wing B.J. Gladden, senior shooting guard Deriece Parks and junior point guard C.J. Jackson. Olympic’s strength is its depth – all 12 Trojans on the roster generally play, and they all contribute.
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