On Sept. 21, Providence High lost 17-10 to Ardrey Kell in its first SoMeck conference game of the season.
It was the Panthers’ fifth straight loss. The team fell to 1-5. Coach Brad Bowles said he never worried.
He walked into the locker room after the Ardrey Kell loss and told his team to be consistent mentally.
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“It’s really easy to take the easy way out,” Bowles said Friday, after Providence won its fifth straight game and won its first conference title in 15 years. “It’s easy to say, ‘Man, we suck. We’re going to be terrible.’ What I told them then was that our goal is to win the conference and we’ve just got to keep getting better and better and win the next one.”
And that’s what Providence did.
Friday’s stunning 48-8 win over West Mecklenburg denied the Hawks their first outright conference title since 1988 and ended the Hawks’ eight-game win streak. Providence, West Meck and Ardrey Kell will share the conference title.
All of sudden, Providence is 6-5, has won 10 of its past 12 conference games, dating to last season, and the Panthers will enter the N.C. 4AA playoffs as a No. 3 seed from the conference. Ardrey Kell won a draw to get the No. 1 seed. West Meck got the No. 2.
But averaging 41.2 points in the winning streak, the Panthers are just the kind of team you don’t want to play in the first round.
“I don’t keep up with everybody in the state,” Bowles said. “I don’t use Twitter too much. I just had my third daughter last week, but we are moving in the right direction. I don’t know if we’re as good as we can be, but we’re moving in the right direction. I’m 100 percent sure of that.”
Bowles’ team played a really tough early season schedule, losing to Myers Park, Hough and Butler, three teams ranked among the top eight in the Observer’s Sweet 16.
And the Panthers faced that schedule while starting three freshmen and seven sophomores.
Credit Bowles for keeping this bunch together after the rough start, and for developing the Panthers into a bona-fide champion.
“We’re really young,” Bowles said, “but we’ve got enough good leadership and experience in certain positions to help us go out on a night like (Friday) and play the way we did. Our seniors are really limited but, they are really locked in and completely bought into what we’re doing, the way we work and the way we play. Our kids are really awesome.”
↑Ardrey Kell: Beat Harding 35-14 to win a share of the SoMeck conference championship, the first in school history.
↑Shelby Bassinger, South Iredell: In a win over North Iredell, Bassinger, one of the team’s kickers, scored a rushing touchdown. It was her first.
↑Charlotte Christian: The Knights scored 27 straight points in the N.C. Independent Schools championship game, beating Arden Christ School 43-14 to repeat as state champs. The Knights won their sixth state title since 2008.
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Quentin Cooper, Charlotte Country Day: 28 carries for 128 yards in a 24-14 win over Charlotte Latin to send the Bucs to their second straight state championship game. Teammate Twan Flip had a 70-yard touchdown reception from sophomore QB Russell Tabor and he had a 47-yard interception return for a score.
Jabari Dalton, South Mecklenburg: Had 32 carries for 231 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Berry High. Dalton had two catches for 32 yards and a third touchdown.
Will Kakavitsas: The Providence receiver had three first-half receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in a 48-8 win over West Mecklenburg. He finished with six catches for 138 yards. He also threw a 43-yard pass to Patrick Bloomingburg on a fake punt to set up a score, and Kakavitsas had a 9-yard scoring run.
Garrett Shrader, Charlotte Christian: In a 43-14 win over Ardren Christ School, Shrader was 11-for-21 passing for 213 yards and two scores. He ran 16 times for 179 yards and three scores. Christian won its second straight Division I private schools’ state title.
Andre White, Vance: In a 25-0 win over Hough, White ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Vance locked up the No. 2 seed in the I-MECK 4A behind Mallard Creek.
Lake Norman 8, North Meck 7: Lake Norman won its second straight game Friday. Lake Norman (4-7, 2-5) handed North Meck (5-6, 1-6) its fourth straight loss.
Mallard Creek 50, Mooresvile 7: Mallard Creek (10-0) won the I-MECK 4A championship outright with an easy win. The Mavericks are allowing just under eight points per game heading into the postseason.
West Charlotte 60, Hopewell 25: West Charlotte (6-5, 3-4 I-MECK) snapped a four-game losing streak, scoring a season-high in points. Hopewell finished the season 0-11, 0-7.