South Charlotte

This season’s finest: Janelle Bailey, Providence Day girls finish their championship goal

Janelle Bailey, Providence Day Girls' Basketball
Janelle Bailey, Providence Day Girls' Basketball dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Janelle Bailey, Providence Day Girls’ Basketball: Janelle Bailey had already had a high school basketball career for the ages, going into the final week of her senior season at Providence Day.

Bailey, a four-time all-state selection, eclipsed the 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound marks, also becoming the second player in school history to be named a McDonald’s All-American; the other is Jatarie White in 2014. She also signed to play at the University of North Carolina in November.

But despite all of those accomplishments, Bailey says her main goal was to help her Providence Day girls’ basketball win their eighth straight, NCISAA 3A state championship.

While Providence Day got contributions from multiple players, Bailey played the lead role again as the Chargers beat Rabun Gap Nacoochee in the semifinals, and High Point Wesleyan, in the state finals, to clinch another state championship.

The 6-foot-4 senior center was at her best again, as Bailey had 23 points and 18 rebounds in the 51-22 win over Rabun Gap on Feb. 24.

The next day, Bailey had 22 points, 22 rebounds and six assists as the Chargers outlasted High Point Wesleyan, 58-57, to win all.

While Bailey made a lot of big plays, she was also double-teamed full court the entire, forcing her to adjust her game. Bailey was quick to give credit to her teammates.

“I’ll be honest, when I saw that full-court, double-team come at me, I was a little bit panicked at first, because it’s something I’ve never seen before,” said Bailey, who averaged 22 points and 17 rebounds in three playoff games. “But, I knew I had to be patient and let the game come to me. I had to be a little more of a facilitator. I knew my teammates would make plays, and then get me the ball, too. …

“We had a lot of people make big plays from Laila (Barnes) to Kennedy (Boyd) to Andi (Levitz). We all had to step up our games.”

Providence Day girls’ basketball coach, Josh Springer, says Bailey’s impact goes way beyond the numbers.

“The best compliment I can give Janelle is that even when she had 22 (points) and 22 (rebounds), that wasn’t even the best two things she did for us in the championship game,” Springer said. “First, her leadership was phenomenal. She was as cool, calm and collected as I’ve seen her in four years. That leadership really helped our younger players. Second, she handled the ball a lot and helped take a lot of pressure off our guards. …

“Janelle has seen it all at this point, her poise under pressure is another way she can help us win.”

While Bailey’s Providence Day basketball career is over, she has a lot to look forward to from the McDonald’s All-American game, March 29 in Chicago, to getting ready to play for North Carolina.

While Bailey admits she is still basking in Providence Day’s championship victory, she is already thinking about her next goal, which includes: earning the Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year honors.

“I’m always thinking about what’s next,” Bailey said. “When you are doing something you love to do (basketball), you always want to have another goal to work towards. For me, there’s always something I can do better, something else I want to achieve on the basketball court.”

D.J. Little, Butler Basketball: Butler junior guard averaged 21 points per game in 4A state playoff wins over R.J. Reynolds, Richmond Senior and Rocky River, as the Bulldogs (29-0) remained unbeaten this season.

Little had 22 points in their first round win over Reynolds on Feb. 21, before pouring in a career-high 32 points in a 108-88 victory over Richmond Senior two nights later.

Butler returns to 4A state quarterfinals (Elite 8) for the second straight season, hosting West Forsyth, Feb. 28.

Ahlana Smith, Mallard Creek Girls’ Basketball: The 5-foot-8, Mallard Creek junior guard, helped the Mavericks (28-0) stay unbeaten, averaging 24 points per contest three, 4A state playoffs win last week.

Smith, who averages 13 points per game this season, had a season-high 27 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and five blocks in Mallard Creek’s 80-61, third round victory over Rocky River.

Mallard Creek hosts R.J. Reynolds on Feb. 28 in the 4A state quarterfinals.

Levontae Knox/Jehlon Johnson, Lincoln Charter Basketball: The Lincoln Charter duo stepped up their games in three 1A playoff wins over Walkertown, Mountain Island Charter and West Montgomery.

Knox, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the week, while Johnson, a 6-foot-8 junior, averaged 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per contest in the same span.

Lincoln Charter (26-4) travels to Winston-Salem Prep on Feb. 28.

Parker Tompkins, Davidson Day Girls’ Basketball: The Davidson Day senior helped lead the Patriots’ to their second straight NCISAA 2A state runner-up finish.

Tompkins had a huge weekend, with 28 points and 16 rebounds in Davidson Day’s 66-37 semifinal win over Concord First Assembly on Feb. 24.

The next day, the Furman University signee had 13 points and nine blocks in the NCISAA 2A state championship game, where the Patriots fell to seven-time, defending state champion Carolina Day.

Cameron Dollar, East Lincoln Basketball: The East Lincoln senior scored a career-high 42 points in his final high school game, a 67-59 second round, 2A state playoff loss at archrival Lincolnton on Feb. 23.

Dollar also had 31 points in the Mustangs’ 81-71 first round, playoff win at West Stokes on Feb. 21.

Dollar now turns his focus to the gridiron, as he is Charlotte 49ers’ football signee.

Nas Tyson, Forest Hills Basketball: The Forest Hills’ sophomore averaged 20 points per game in three playoffs wins as the Yellow Jackets advanced to the 2A state quarterfinals for the second straight season.

The highlight of Tyson’s week came in their Feb. 23 game with Salisbury when he stole the ball with score tied at 79, and went coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup, and an 81-79 victory.

Tyson had 27 points in the second round win over Salisbury.

Ariana Nance, Rocky River Girls’ Basketball: The Rocky River guard had one of the best weeks of her career in the final week of senior season.

Nance started her week with 34 points and 14 rebounds in a 69-64 win over Alexander Central, Feb. 21, in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.

Two nights later, Nance had 27 points and nine rebounds in a 62-52, second round, win over Mooresville.

The 5-foot-9, Elon University signee had 31 points in her final game for Rocky River in a 80-61 loss at unbeaten, Mallard Creek, in the third round of the 4A playoffs.

Cam Hamilton, Vance Basketball: The Vance senior guard had a career-high, Mecklenburg County record 63 points in his final high school game.

Hamilton went 25-for-40 from the field in the 123-118 loss to Richmond Senior High.

The 6-foot point guard is still deciding on where he will play college basketball.

Joey Knox, Community School of Davidson Basketball: Community School of Davidson’s all-time leading scorer had two big games in the final week of his high school basketball career.

Knox, a 6-foot-4 guard, had 30 points in the Spartans’ first round win over Murphy on Feb. 21 and then 34 points in their second round win over Queens Grant on Feb. 23.

Knox averaged 24 points per game this season.

Terron Dixon, Queens Grant Basketball: The 6-foot-3 senior finished his high school as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,236 points.

Dixon, a four-year starter, had his season in his final year, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals per contest.

Dixon had 21 points and 10 rebounds in Queens Grant’s 56-46 first round playoff win at Alleghany, and then 16 points and eight boards in his final high school game, an 81-66 loss at Community School of Davidson.

J.C. Tharrington, Charlotte Christian Basketball: Charlotte Christian’s sophomore point guard also had a week to remember, averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, four rebounds and two steals in NCISAA 3A playoff games versus SouthLake Christian and Cannon School.

Tharrington set the Knights (22-8) single-season school record for assists with 177 this season, beating the previous of 163 assists. He also went 7 for 11 from the three-point line in the two games.

Christiana McLean, Carmel Christian Girls’ Basketball: The Carmel Christian sophomore’s season didn’t even start until she returned from a torn ACL on Dec. 19.

But in 15 games, McLean led the Carmel Christian girls (17-7) to their best season in school history, advancing all the way to the NCISAA 2A state semifinals before losing to Carolina Day on Feb. 24.

McLean, who was named the Southern Piedmont Athletic Association’s player of the year last week, averaged a team-best 14.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.8 steals per game.

Ikenna Eruchalu, Charlotte Latin Swimming: The Charlotte Latin senior led the Hawks’ boys’ swim team to their fifth straight NCISAA 3A state championship Feb. 20.

Eruchalu, a University of Pennsylvania signee, won the two individual state titles in both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Eruchalu was also a part of the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams that both won state championships.

Latin’s 200 medley relay set a NCISAA 3A state record (1:37.04) with Eruchalu, Tyler D’Allaird, Will Egan and Sam Mahoney.

Jane Donahue, Christ the King Swimming: The Christ the King senior had a record-breaking meet in leading the Crusader girls to the NCISAA 1A/2A state championship, Feb. 20.

Donahue won state titles in the 200 individual medley (2:05.69) and 100 breaststroke (1:02.61), setting 1A/2A state records in the process.

The Penn State signee also helped the 200 medley relay (1:48.85) and 400 freestyle relays (3:35.65) to state championships with teammates Annie Donahue, Amanda Hoffman, Jordan Lamoreux.

Sophie Francis, Charlotte Country Day Swimming: The Charlotte Country Day sophomore won NCISAA state championships in the meet’s fastest events, the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Francis won the 50 freestyle in 24.27 and the 100 freestyle in 52.15.

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: edwardswork23@gmail.com.

HELP US FIND THE ATHLETES

This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Feb. 26 . In most cases, the athletes featured will come from sports that don’t get a lot of recognition. However, the goal is to recognize excellence. If you want to suggest someone to be included in This Season’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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