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Who are the best high school basketball players, teams of the last 40 years? We tell you.

In 1984, The Charlotte Observer created high school boys’ and girls’ basketball polls named The Sweet 16.

The rankings continue today, and update weekly during the season. The teams finishing No. 1 at the season’s end receive a banner to hang in their school’s gym.

The first Sweet 16 girls’ champion was McBee (S.C.), the most recent was Cannon School. The first boys’ champion was Cherryville. The most recent was North Mecklenburg.

RANKING: Here are the best Charlotte high school girls’ basketball players in the past 40 years

In between, there have been dynasties and surprise winners and an untold number of players and coaches who’ve had memorable careers.

This year, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Sweet 16, we celebrate the best players, coaches and teams of the poll’s era.

Because The Observer’s coverage area has changed so much through the years — it once stretched to the Triad, mountains and beach — the anniversary team will only include Mecklenburg County players. Some of the best non-Mecklenburg players will be recognized on a separate list.

Rankings of the top 16 teams of the era were open to any school that was part of The Observer’s coverage area at that time.

Members of The Observer’s high school team spent an extensive amount of time researching this project, speaking to dozens of current and former coaches and players.

Coming up:

Tuesday: The top girls’ teams in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years, plus our ranking of the top Sweet 16 champions of all time.

Wednesday: The top girls’ players in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; profile: top girls’ player of the era

Thursday: The top girls’ coaches in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; profile: top girls’ coach of the era; column: top 10 girls’ performances of the Sweet 16 era.

Friday: The top girls’ players outside the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; which Charlotte players, teams, just missed our rankings.

Tuesday, April 9: The top boys’ teams in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years, plus our ranking of the top Sweet 16 champions of all time.

Wednesday, April 10: The top boys’ players, coaches in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; profile: top boys’ player of the era

Thursday, April 11: The top boys’ coaches in the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; profile: top boys’ coach of the era; column: top 10 boys’ performances of the era.

Friday, April 12: The top boys’ players outside the Charlotte area during the past 40 years; which Charlotte players, teams, just missed our rankings.

Earlier this year, The Observer honored the best football and teams of The Sweet 16 era. You can read about them here.