Back in the late ’90s, Providence Day’s boys’ basketball team was among the best teams, public or private, in North Carolina.
The Chargers won the 1998 N.C. 2A Independent Schools’ state title and repeated in 1999. The Chargers reached the 3A state final in 2000.
It’s taken awhile, but it appears Providence Day might be gearing up for a similar-type run.
After Friday’s 72-52 win over Charlotte Latin, which was ranked No. 5 in the 3A state coaches’ poll, the Chargers (17-4, 2-0) are atop the CISAA conference and on pace for their first outright championship in 13 years.
Coach Brian Field, in his seventh season, has a team with seven freshmen and sophomores. He starts a freshman, a sophomore, two juniors and a senior. Star guard Jordan Watkins, a 6-foot junior, has committed to Davidson. Field has a trio of 6-6 freshmen and a bevy of athletic wing players to go with them.
But Field wasn’t sure Watkins and his teammates could be this good this fast.
“They have surprised me,” said Field, whose team tied for the league title in 2001. “I knew we were talented but I wasn’t sure about our youth. I didn’t know how we would handle the big-time environments. (Against Latin), we handled it really well.”
Providence Day was upset by Hickory Grove 60-48 on Dec. 8, but has only lost to state championship favorites since then – to N.C. 4A power Olympic and private school 3A state championship favorites Greensboro Day and Wesleyan Christian.
In two conference games last week, Providence Day beat Latin and Concord’s Cannon School by a combined 34 points.
“We’ve learned from those games (against the state powers),” Field said. “We’ve played a tough schedule and I like the way we have bounced back.”
Watching the Chargers swarm Latin with a terrorizing full-court press Friday, I found myself thinking how good these guys might be in a few years, especially if talented 6-6 freshman center Grant Williams continues to grow.
Field, asked about “tomorrow,” only wanted to talk about “today.”
“We’re so caught up in today, trying to win a conference title with great senior leadership from Bryon Fields and James Yeldell that we can’t think about anything else,” he said. “We want to take care of today. We’re excited about the state of the program, but we feel we can be pretty good right now. We don’t want to start looking ahead.”
• No 3A Charlotte private boys’ team has won a state title since Charlotte Latin in 2004. Why? It was not long after that the local schools decided to play by the same rule as the public schools – a student-athlete had eight semesters to play sports after starting ninth grade. Previously, athletes could repeat a year after ninth grade.
Many other schools in the private school state association have maintained the old rule, effectively putting local teams at a big disadvantage.
I’m not recommending the 3A area private schools go back, but I think the state association should establish a “Super” class for certain high schools and then group others according to size in two classes.
• Early candidate for Southwestern 4A Coach of the Year has to be Independence’s Preston Davis. After winning two games last season, Davis’ team is atop the conference standings today.
Independence (12-4, 5-1) beat Myers Park 65-46 Friday to win its eighth game in a row.
• East Meck’s Jerrin Morrison scored his 1,000th point against Ardrey Kell Friday. He had 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 14 rebounds. It was his 12th double-double of the season.
• West Charlotte’s Kennedy Meeks and Charlotte Catholic’s Mark Pollack have been nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game.
Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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