Friday, December 2, 2011

Harding upsets Sweet 16 No. 1 West Charlotte

When Harding lost 74-58 to nationally ranked Milton (GA) at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge last month, Rams coach Walter Aikens was proud of his team. He loved how tough his kids played and knew if they could repeat that kind of performance against N.C. competition, even elite N.C. competition like West Charlotte, the Rams would be a tough out.

Sure enough, on the same night West Charlotte celebrated winning the 2010 N.C. 4A state championship, that toughness showed in a 66-65 upset that is one of the biggest in Mecklenburg County in years.

West Charlotte is nationally ranked in many polls and sits at No. 1 in the Sweet 16. Harding (4-1) ended the Lions’ 15-game win streak. West Charlotte is 1-1.

Jarvis Haywood hit two free throws with 1.1 seconds to win the game. He finished with 29 points. Harding led by 10 in the first half and fell behind by 10 in the second half. Aikens said it was Harding’s first win over West Charlotte since 2009.

“We fought back and (then) got two technical fouls with one minute left,” Aikens said. “So, with one minute left, we're down by four and we fought through it. We hit some big free throws down the line. This was a hump game. I felt if we could win this one, it would boost our confidence the rest of the way. To beat the No. 1 team in the Sweet 16 has (us) fired up and now they know they can do it.”