Olympic High Trojans make state semis

The Charlotte ObserverMarch 8, 2013 

— It took 47 years, and a lot of heartache, but Olympic High’s boys’ basketball team finally is going to a N.C. regional championship game.

The Trojans, ranked as high as No.?7 nationally, simply were too much for upstart Hough on Thursday at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center. With North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams watching courtside, Olympic clamped down with a vicious man-to-man defense and ran away with an easy 75-55 win.

So after making four trips to the regionals, and always losing, Olympic finally advanced.

“I know that’s what people are going to want to talk about,” said Trojans coach Ty Baumgardner, whose team is ranked No.?1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, “but the kids didn’t even think about it, and to be quite honest, I didn’t think about it, either. We’re not satisfied at all. We’re happy to be playing on Saturday.”

Olympic (28-0) will play either Greensboro Dudley or Winston-Salem Mount Tabor in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. regional championship game. The winner will advance to next week’s N.C. 4A final in Chapel Hill. If Olympic wins that, it will become the first public school team from Mecklenburg County to go unbeaten since West Charlotte in 1985-86. And the Trojans know they are getting close.

“This,” center B.J. Gladden said, “is what we’ve been working towards.”

Olympic got in position with defense. The Trojans limited Hough (23-6) to 37?percent shooting for the game and outrebounded the Huskies 34-24. Hough star Luke Maye, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, sat out most of the first half with foul trouble. He finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Drexler Clark added 11 points.

But in their first trip to the N.C. 4A Western Regionals, Hough – a third-year school – was overmatched. And Baumgardner, who watched his team lose in the past two regional semifinals, knows exactly how Hough was feeling.

“Any coach that cares for his kids and invests in them like we do, it’s hard because you’ve go in (the locker room) and look at some sad faces,” he said. “And it’s tough to swallow, but for us, us being here back-to-back years and, bottom line, not getting it done, man, it sure does feel good to win this third time around.”

After leading 34-25 at halftime, when it shot 65?percent, Olympic busted the game open with a 21-8 spurt during a decisive third quarter. The Trojans got 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals from sixth man and Akron recruit B.J. Gladden. Senior point guard Jevon Patton had 18 points, three rebounds and two assists, and senior forward Trey Mitchell finished with 14 points and three rebounds.

And even the Trojans were surprised by how dominant their performance was against a Hough team that had gone on the road Friday and eliminated two-time state finalist West Charlotte, ending the high school career of All-American and North Carolina recruit Kennedy Meeks.

“I was actually expecting it to be a little closer than what it was,” said Trojans senior guard Deriece Parks. “But we came out and played defense. That’s what got us this win. And that’s what is different about us. This year, we worked harder and played as a team more than any other team I’ve ever played for.”

Now, Team Together is just two wins away.

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