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Myers Park carries memories of 1966 title game as it goes for first basketball state championship

The Mustangs will play Richmond for the 4A championship on Saturday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Myers Park held practice inside Charlotte's Halton Arena on Thursday, in an effort to simulate the space and feel of the Dean E. Smith Center, where it will play for a state championship on Saturday night.

"Give them a little feel for it. You hope the backdrop carries over a little bit," coach Scott Taylor said. "But I don't think there's anything quite like shooting in the Dean Dome."

The Mustangs will tip off against Richmond at 7:30 p.m., a team they defeated by 41 points to begin the season.

But Richmond has since added highly-touted recruit Paul McNeil Jr.

Meanwhile, Myers Park is peaking at the right time, coming off a big regional final win over another big-time player, Isaiah Evans and North Meck.

"We have an opportunity to take our program somewhere they haven't been before," Taylor said.

There's also some unfinished business to take care of.

Though none of the Myers Park players or coaches were around to see it, the Mustangs' last trip to the state championship game still leaves a sour taste for the school.

The year was 1966, and the result was a one-point loss to Fayetteville.

They haven't been back since.

"We've been willing to talk about that with these guys," Taylor said. "And the fact that we have a tradition-rich and proud community and athletics history that hasn't resulted in a state championship in football or basketball. It would be a legacy to be the first group to be able to do that."

Now the Mustangs are one win away from avenging that heartbreaking loss from 57 years ago.

"We envisioned ourselves being exactly where we are today," senior center Elijah Strong said. "It was really state championship or bust for us, since day one."

Contact Nick Carboni at ncarboni@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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