CHAPEL HILL — Broughton held true to form Saturday, making a run late in the boys 4A state championship game. But the Caps fell short of one last comeback, falling to Charlotte Olympic, 56-53, at the Dean Smith Center.
Broughton lived by its defense throughout the playoffs, using late-game surges on one end to create transition baskets on the other.
“Tonight’s game was kind of a microcosm of our season in that what you saw out of our team is what I’ve seen for 32 games,” said Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell. “These kids just battle. They battle for every possession, every play.”
Down by nine points near the end of the third quarter, Broughton cut its deficit to four midway through the fourth when senior Devonte’ Graham picked off an Olympic pass and found Jerome Robinson streaking up court for the lay-in.
Minutes later, Broughton (27-6) forced a five-second call and tied the game on the ensuing possession with a deep Graham 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining.
The Caps trailed again by four points with less than 10 seconds remaining when Cameron Gottfried was fouled on a layup attempt. He sank the first free throw, but missed the second. Graham grabbed the offensive rebound and got a tip-in to pull Broughton within one with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Broughton fouled Olympic’s C.J. Jackson, who sank both free throws on the other end to secure the win. With one second on the clock, Graham’s shot from three-fourths the length of the court sailed short to end the game.
“When I scouted Olympic, I said to myself if it’s tight at the end, this is a team that looks like they stay composed and won’t get rattled,” Ferrell said. “When we tied it up they didn’t rattle. ... They kept their momentum going. We had a couple of good looks that just didn’t fall down for us, but it doesn’t take one thing away from our season and our team and what we’ve accomplished.”
The game was the first boys’ basketball state finals appearance for the Caps since Broughton fell in overtime to West Charlotte in the 1986 title game.
The Caps held Olympic (30-0) without a field goal for the final three minutes, 23 seconds of the game, but the Trojans were able to hold off Broughton’s efforts at the line, making 9 of 12 free throws in that time.
The title game appearance was the first for Olympic, which finished the season undefeated.
“(Broughton) verified exactly what I told our team yesterday right before we ended our last practice,” said Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner. “This was going to be the best team – emphasis on team – we’ve played all year, and they showed it. Obviously Devonte’ Graham is a special player, and he leads them, but that’s the best team. It’s a shame somebody has to lose a game like that.”
Graham was named Most Outstanding Player for Broughton. He scored a game-high 23 points, and added seven rebounds and six assists in a bitter-sweet end to his high school career.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for a long time, especially the seniors,” Graham said. “We worked so hard to get here. We’ve been through thick and thin, ups and downs. Losing in the first round, losing in the second round, and then getting this far, it’s a good feeling to get here. I wish we could’ve won, but we’re still proud.”
James Hemphill added 13 points and eight rebounds for Broughton.