Some say it's hard to beat the same team three times in one season. Don't tell Providence Day that.
The Chargers girls' basketball team beat conference rival Charlotte Christian 46-35 in the championship game of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A tournament Feb. 26 at Asheville School. It's the Chargers' second-straight title and the sixth in seven years.
"It never gets old," said coach Josh Springer. "Every single one is incredibly special."
Providence Day (28-4) beat Christian 57-49 at home Jan. 25 and 64-61 on the road Feb. 11 to clinch the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association conference title. In the second meeting, the Chargers were down early and didn't lead until the fourth quarter.
In the championship game, Providence Day again struggled early, trailing 25-19 at the half.
Sophomore Gigi Bailey led the Knights inside early in the game and finished with 17 points.
During halftime, Springer made sure his team knew it could still win.
"I told them it's a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "We didn't want to get discouraged that we were down at halftime again."
Springer felt his team was deeper and more balanced than Charlotte Christian and that its defensive pressure would wear the Knights down over four quarters.
He was right.
The Chargers played tough defense in the second half and held Christian to only five points each quarter. The team's defensive goal is to hold each opponent to 35 points or less each game, said Springer, and the Chargers did exactly that.
The championship game was the 21st consecutive win for Providence Day.
The Chargers also managed to go undefeated in the state, the first time that has happened since Springer started coaching the team four years ago.
Providence Day likely will be the favorite to win again next year. Only one player, Sarah Burnick, will graduate this year.
Tiffany Mitchell, who scored 20 points in the championship game and is committed to play at South Carolina, is a junior. Jada Braboy, who scored 13 in the championship game, is a sophomore, and freshman Morgan Mosack was key in the defensive pressure that helped the Chargers win.
Mitchell was one of two Chargers to make the NCISAA 3A all-state team. The other? Freshman Jatarie White, who averaged 11 points a game this year.
"I'd be lying to you if I didn't say we had high expectations for next year," said Springer. But "we're never going to rest on where we are at."
"I'm very confident everyone around here is going to get better next year."