Saturday night’s finale of the Charlotte Hoops Challenge was the story of two state championship coaches allowing their teams to work through major problems.
In the end, both Providence Day and Jay M. Robinson looked the part of state title contenders, with Providence Day scoring a 76-71 victory at Rocky River High.
“That game was played at a very high level, and it was fun to be a part of,” Providence Day coach Brian Field said. “And I’d feel the same way if we hadn’t won.”
The Chargers (5-1) are the defending independent schools’ 3A champs. Jay M. Robinson (0-1) won the N.C. 3A public school state championship last year. Both teams lost key performers from last season but have plenty of firepower returning.
Never miss a local story.
Bulldogs’ coach Lavar Batts Sr. was the first to show his patience Saturday night.
He watched as Providence Day came out and built a 19-1 lead over his team in the opening four minutes. Batts didn’t call a timeout, however, showing faith that his team would recover. And that’s exactly what happened.
The Bulldogs, down 26-9 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter, scored 22 of the next 25 points and took a 31-29 lead two minutes before halftime. From then on, it was a highly competitive game.
Field showed his patience when Jay M. Robinson rallied.
“I told them to keep working, to keep doing what they were doing,” he said.
Providence Day standout guard Devon Dotson picked up his fourth foul with three seconds left in the third quarter and the Chargers ahead 54-49. He sat out for three minutes, and returned with five minutes remaining in the game, and the score tied at 58. The Chargers scored six straight points and never surrendered the lead again.
3 who mattered
Trey Wertz: A 6-5 shooting guard, Wertz scored a team-high 30 points and grabbed six rebounds. He hit 5-of-9 three-point attempts. “He had a sensational game,” Field said.
Wertz hit three three-pointers in the first quarter, when the Chargers were 6-of-9 from three-point range.
Devon Dotson: Despite missing part of the second half with four fouls, Dotson scored 20 points and had six rebounds. He also led the team with four assists.
Lavar Batts Jr.: Jay M. Robinson’s highly-regarded 6-3 point guard scored a game-high 34 points, had seven rebounds and four assists. He made 5-of-9 three-point attempts.
▪ The gym at Rocky River High was nearly packed for the finale.
▪ Providence Day also got a big game from freshman guard Luke Stankavage, who scored 11 points and picked up some of the point guard duties when Dotson was on the bench.
▪ Jamari Roberts of Jay M. Robinson was a force to be reckoned with on the offensive boards, grabbing six rebounds there. He also scored 15 points.
▪ The Providence Day girls, No. 7 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, ran their record to 4-0 in the next-to-last game of the evening, beating No. 4 Davidson Day (1-1) 43-25. Janelle Bailey, the Chargers’ standout center (and a UNC commit), scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. She hit eight of 10 free throws. Providence Day beat No. 2 South Meck Friday.
▪ Things won’t get any easier for the Providence Day boys. After surviving Saturday night’s battle with Jay M. Robinson, the Chargers travel Tuesday to Greensboro Day, the state’s top-ranked team overall. Greensboro Day beat 4A public school power Southwest Guilford 59-54 Saturday. Southwest Guilford is ranked No. 1 in the Phenom Hoop rankings of all public school teams combined.
They said it
“Batts (Lavar Batts Jr.) is a great player. We did well to hold him to what he got tonight.” – Providence Day coach Brian Field.