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Sports

Let’s do it again
With second 3A title, Harding High on to next challenge
 
Published Thursday, March 28, 2013 7:14 am
by Herbert L. White

Any doubt about Harding High having one of North Carolina’s top girls’ basketball programs has been answered.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Harding High players celebrate their N.C. 3A basketball championship on March 16 in Raleigh. The Rams capped a 29-4 campaign as the first Mecklenburg County public school program to win consecutive state titles.


The Rams, who became the first Mecklenburg County program to win consecutive state championships – girls’ or boys’ – rolled to the 3A title with a remade roster that got hot at the right time.


“We’ve got the mind set of a winner now,” Harding coach Anthony Jones said. “We’ve got the mind set of (the championship) belongs to us. These young ladies definitely want to defend their title next year, so you’re going to see the same type of basketball.”


The Rams, who ended the season with 19 straight wins, overcame a slow start and doubts they wouldn’t be able to match last year’s title run. But they did, with Jones mixing a deep but young team to its potential.


“A lot of times people kind of counted us out and I think that’s when they really dig in. This is one of the most persevering groups of young ladies I’ve had.”


The inevitable question – can the Rams make it three straight – will follow Harding into next season. But Jones, who doubles as the school’s band director, sees it as a challenge the program is eager to meet.


“We’re going to give it our all,” he said. “I think anything is possible if you go back to the story of Anthony Jones …can he even coach basketball. We kind of got that figured out, then we turned around and win the conference, then we turned around and win the state then turned around and win it again.”


Harding hit stride when senior guard Abrea Harris, a key component of the 2012 title team, returned to school after a family emergency. Harris averaged 10.9 points and 3.4 assists per game and more important, blended efficiently with leading scorer Myicha Drakeford, a junior forward who averaged 15.9 points a game, junior center Brianna Hamrick (13.1 points, 8.8 rebounds) and senior point guard Ralisha Currence (11.5 points, 5.3 assists).


“Bree Harris came back from Virginia, but we had been winning before February,” Jones said. “Myicha Drakeford, Bree Hamrick and Rae Currence took over the helm and kept the same pace going and set expectations for the other young ladies.


“ It was really interesting to see them grow. They were outstanding in the way they approached the whole situation.”


Harding graduates five seniors, including Harris and Currence, but Jones isn’t one to doubt the Rams’ capability to be among the state’s best in 2014 – maybe the best for a third straight season.


“I think anything is possible,” he said. “I really feel we can do it again.”

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