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Plenty of bests in Mecklenburg basketball
Top players, coaches and efforts in 2013 season
Published Thursday, March 28, 2013 7:39 am
by Herbert L. White

The best high school basketball in North Carolina was played in Mecklenburg County, with state titles going to Olympic (4A boys) and Harding (3A girls). But there was so much talent throughout the county’s public schools it’s worth a recap of Mecklenburg’s best from a historic 2012-13 season.

• Top team: Olympic. Trojans won everything in sight en route to a 30-0 record and the N.C. 4A championship. Olympic didn’t have the county’s best player, but more than made up for it by playing like a team regardless of opponent or situation. The Trojans shook off previous early-tournament exits, which showed maturity.

• Best player: It’s hard to argue against West Charlotte’s Kennedy Meeks. The North Carolina signee combined size, great hands and footwork to lead the Lions to the I-Meck 4A regular season title.

• Most underrated: Caz’Mon Hayes, Berry Academy. The Delaware signee played on a team that went a so-so 14-14, but without Hayes, the Cardinals would’ve been in worse shape. The combo guard/small forward averaged 23.1 points per game, the only Berry player to break double-figures.

• Coach of the year: Olympic’s Ty Baumgardner took the program where it was supposed to be a season or two ago when the Trojans won the state title. What’s impressive is he did it with a cast of blue-collar players who bought into Baumgardner’s team-first mantra.
Most improved: Independence. Coach Preston Davis realized big dividends in his third season with the Patriots, going 24-6 and winning the Southwestern 4A championship. His previous two teams combined didn’t break double-digit wins, so the Patriots are heading in the right direction.

• Top team: Harding. The Rams’ back-to-back 3A state titles settles this argument once and for all. Coach Anthony Jones brought the Rams (24-4) up to speed at the right time of the season, winning 19 straight to close the campaign.

• Best player: Rydeiah Rogers. Myers Park’s sophomore forward was a force, averaging 13.4 points a game and hit 133 of 236 field goal attempts, a testament to her ability to get to the rim. Rogers is also a defensive ace, averaging 9.4 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game. Honorable mention goes to Berry’s Milan Quinn.

• Most underrated: Brianna Hamrick. Harding’s undersized center was a force in the middle, averaging 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. A 5-11 junior, Hamrick can carry the fight to anyone in the post regardless of size and was probably the Rams’ best player down the stretch.

Coach of the year: Barbara Nelson gets major props for leading Myers Park to a 29-1 record, but Harding’s Jones gets the nod for the job he did in taking the Rams to a second straight state title.

• Most improved: North Mecklenburg. The Vikings went from 14-13 to 26-4 and winning a couple of state playoff games in the process. North’s back on the radar, due in part to four senior captains and head coach Jennifer Baker.


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