RALEIGH Top-seeded Providence Day needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Tiffany Mitchell to take a two-point lead into halftime of Friday's N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A girls' basketball semifinal versus fourth-seeded Rabun Gap (Ga.). Thereafter, the teams only grew further apart, with the Chargers running away with a 51-30 win for a berth in today's final.
Providence Day (28-4) will return to Ravenscroft today at 2 p.m. in pursuit of its third consecutive state championship, and seventh in eight years. The Chargers will meet No. 2 Greensboro Day, who felled No. 3 Charlotte Christian 70-55 in the other semifinal.
"We struggled a little bit offensively tonight, but we held them to 30 points," Providence Day coach Josh Springer said. "There isn't a team in the state that will beat us if they score 30 points."
The Chargers led 19-17 at intermission.
Providence Day forward Olivia Parker scored eight of her 10 points - including 6-for-6 at the free-throw line - in the third quarter, during which the Eagles managed just eight points. The Chargers' Jatarie White, Parker's interior partner, outscored Rabun Gap (24-7) 10-5 in the final quarter on the way to matching Mitchell with 16 points.
"We've been very blessed to have talented players, and players who buy into our team," Springer said. "Tonight was a perfect example of that."
Springer made specific mention of Morgan Mosack's game-long "suffocating defense," along with Ja'da Brayboy's five assists in the fourth quarter. Never mind, the coach said, that Mosack and Brayboy netted two points apiece.
"It's one thing for a player to know her role," Springer continued. "It's another thing for a player to embrace her role."
Eagles guard Erica Wilkins finished with 10 points.
Charlotte Christian (24-7), last season's state runner-up, could not overcome cold shooting - in the lane, on the perimeter and in transition. Seven missed free throws (14-for-21) did not help the Knights, who never pulled even after the Bengals scored first.
Greensboro Day (28-4) took advantage of its decided height advantage, with forward Ronata Rogers scoring 16 points and center Khadejah Wilkerson scoring 15. Tamera Thorpe added 18 for the winners.
Christian played its last nine games without 6-foot-3 center Gigi Bailey, who is hospitalized with pneumonia. The Knights went 7-2 during that stretch, including a loss to Providence Day.
Christian's Maryah Mazyck scored a game high 21 points in her high school finale; Katherine Harris chipped in 17.
Among 2A boys, Davidson Day and Northside Christian, seeded first and second, finalized their championship rematch - today at Ravenscroft at noon - with semifinals wins. Davidson Day (31-3) stopped Gaston Day 79-36, while Northside Christian (30-1) prevailed 96-47 versus Asheville Christian.
The teams last met on Jan. 14, when Davidson Day scored a 64-59 win.