This season’s Providence Day boys’ basketball team is young, shorter than in past seasons, prone to mistakes, yet very talent and fearless.
All of that was on display Tuesday night, when the reigning state private schools champion Chargers nearly completed an amazing comeback against nationally ranked High Point Wesleyan before falling 80-76.
“We’re young, and we’re inexperienced,” coach Brian Field said after watching his team rally from a 24-point first-half deficit. “That shows at times. It’s all part of the learning curve for us.”
“But here we were, against a nationally ranked team, and we battled back.”
Three frontcourt standouts on last season’s Providence Day team have graduated and are playing Division I basketball this season. The Chargers have standout returning guards Devon Dotson and Trey Wertz, but they also are starting two freshmen and giving considerable playing time to several other young players.
The lineup Field started Tuesday night was also shorter by several inches at nearly every position than High Point Wesleyan.
The Chargers were outrebound 18-2 in the first half and trailed 46-24 at intermission.
Fans who came to see Wesleyan’s 6-foot-8 junior forward Jaylen Hoard weren’t disappointed. He scored 17 first-half points and grabbed eight rebounds. Hoard, one of the nation’s top targets of college recruiters, even went outside and sank a 3-pointer during the second quarter.
The second half was a different story though. The Chargers held Hoard to five points and kept him off the boards.
Field said his team can play with anyone when it executes. While Dotson, who finished with 40 points, and Wertz, who had 19, were superb during the second half, freshmen John Miralia and Luke Stankavage held their own.
Miralia grabbed four rebounds, working against opponents who were 4 to 6 inches taller, and Stankavage harassed the Wesleyan guards into several turnovers.
“I think we’ll be OK,” Field said. “It’s a good group, but we’re young. We proved tonight that we can hang with the big boys.”
Quote: “There’s a big difference between playing eighth-grade basketball and facing one of the nation’s best teams. This was a good experience for our freshmen.” – Providence Day coach Field.
Records: High Point Wesleyan is 1-0; Providence Day is 2-1.
Worth mentioning: The teams opened against each other last season, with Providence Day winning 77-71. … Dotson was spectacular during the second half, scoring 27 points. … Providence Day entered the fourth quarter down by 19 points but quickly closed to eight. High Point Wesleyan, which had run a fast-break offense to that point, switched into a four-corners to protect the lead. … The Providence Day girls, also reigning state champions, beat High Point Wesleyan 75-54 in the opener. Janelle Bailey had career highs of 37 points and 18 rebounds.
What’s Next: High Point Wesleyan will be at home Saturday against Scott Depot (W.Va.) Teays Valley Christian; Providence Day will play at home next Tuesday against Southlake Christian.