Charlotte Christian took an impressive first step on its postseason journey.
The Knights broke open a close game in the second half and rolled past Charlotte Country Day 79-51 in the first round of the NCISAA 3A playoff Tuesday at Lamb-Johnson Gymnasium. Charlotte Christian, the No. 6 seed, outscored the No. 11 Buccaneers 28-13 in the second to transform a 15-14 lead into a 16-point advantage at the break.
"We told our guys were on a mission to compete for a state championship, and if you're going to try to do that you have to play well and play well consistently," Knights coach Shonn Brown said. "It starts with our defense and our transition game. We're at our best when we can defend, which doesn't mean we're stealing the ball but are very active defensively."
Charlotte Christian (24-7) jumped into gear by turning defense into offense in the second. The Knights often limited Country Day (11-16) to a single shot or turnover per possession and quickly went into transition for easy offensive opportunities. Seven Charlotte Christian players scored in that eight-minute span, with Patrick Rooks knocking down 11 of his 15 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"Christian is a very good team and very well coached," Country Day coach Dwayne Cherry said. "We told our guys when you're playing a team of this caliber, there are certain mistakes you can't make. In the second quarter, we made too many mistakes to start the quarter. They're a good team, so they capitalized on it."
The Knights went over and around the Bucs to get access to the basket - especially 6-foot-7 center Ryan Potocnik, who pumped in a game-high 20 points. When Country Day collapsed to contest the lane, Potocnik passed to the perimeter for open teammates to knock down jump shots.
"We've been a little up and down with that," Brown said. "We're always instilling in our guys we have good shooters but we're still an inside-outside team, so we always want to take that look."
Charlotte Christian maintained its momentum in the third quarter with Potocnik leading the way with eight points as the Knights' lead mushroomed to 31. Everything the Knights did came up positive.
"Our press generated some really good offense for us," Brown said. "We went into a little diamond-and-one press and they got a little flustered and started throwing the ball away and we started building some momentum. It was a big snowball that kind of ran over Country Day."