The Buccaneers and the Chargers' boys' basketball teams will meet Friday night in a rivalry typically decided in the final minutes of each game.
In the past two seasons, Country Day and Providence Day have split four games with both teams defending home court. Both teams are trying to are desperate for a CISAA victory to climb in the standings and keep pace with first-place unbeaten (in conference) Charlotte Christian.
Providence Day (11-6, 0-1 through Jan. 20) looked solid in non-conference play, with experience in Connor Sullivan and Kevin Hickson and youth in point guard Bryon Fields and Jordan Watkins. Country Day (7-9, 0-0 through Jan. 20), up and down all year, is led by senior Wake Hamilton and junior twins Ben and Zach Simons.
After going 15-39 for the last two seasons, including 2-12 in conference play, the Chargers are off to their best start in some time. Head coach Brian Field and the Chargers have done it with a mix of youth and experience.
The youth of Fields and Watkins has infused a speed, quickness and ball-handling the Chargers previously lacked. Fields (13 points per game, 5 assists) has allowed Sullivan (16 ppg) to move off the ball to shoot and score.
Meanwhile, Providence Day can depend on 6-foot-8 center Kevin Hickson (9 ppg, 7 rpg) for solid play inside but needs him and veterans Eric Ivers, James Stramm and Drew Vandemore to play well if they are going to make any noise in the CISAA and seek a playoff spot.
Charlotte Country Day
Like Providence Day, Charlotte Country Day has struggled in the past few seasons, especially last year when the Bucs went 5-19 and 2-5 in CISAA play.
But new head coach Dwayne Cherry, a 1993 Country Day graduate, has breathed new life into the program.
Senior guard Wake Hamilton averages 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Look for him to match up with Sullivan a lot; the winner of that battle should give their team a big advantage.
Hamilton has a lot of help, starting with the Simons twins, who form a solid inside-out trio with Hamilton. Ben Simons like to bang inside but is capable of hitting the three-pointer. Zach Simons tends to stay on perimeter with freshman guard Kendon McLaurin and Brandon Santiago.
Both Simonses and senior forward Morgan Roberts will have to play big against a bigger and stronger Charger frontline.