<
>

Olympic takes over the top spot in first hoops rankings

Despite starting 5-0, Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner admits that his team could stand to play better in the first quarter after having to put together multiple rallies. But when it comes to the first state rankings, the Trojans are starting off just fine. With an assist from United Faith Christian's slow start (4-3) and Harding's upset of previous No. 2 West Charlotte, the Trojans have earned the top spot. Allerik Freeman, ranked ninth in the junior class, leads the squad with 17.2 points per game.

"Because of the natural progression, we happen to be the team that's No. 1, which is great, but to be honest, we don't worry about that stuff," Baumgardner said. "It's still yet to be determined if this is the best team I've ever coached, but without question, this is the most talented team I've ever had."

As a result of its big win as well as the impressive play of Jarvis Haywood (23.2 points), Harding makes its debut in the rankings. Likewise, Christ School, which has won the last five 3A crowns in the private ranks, leaps to No. 4. Junior transfer Shannon Hale leads the Greenies with 14.0 points per game.

Here's how the state rankings shake out (preseason rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 5-0 (4)

The Trojans take over the top spot, having beat five tough opponents by an average of 19.4 points.

2. West Charlotte 1-1 (2)

The defending 4A champ Lions were upset by Harding, 67-66, in their second game, but will look to bounce back against Hopewell and at the tough Nike Hoops Festival on Dec. 10.

3. Ravenscroft (Raleigh) 5-1 (6)

Led by star junior Anton Gill, the Ravens are off to quick start, including a win against No. 8 Wesleyan Christian.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina basketball rankings