After matching wits and throwing their best athletes at each other’s teams for 32 minutes, there was one thing that coaches Brian Field of Providence Day and Che Roth of Concord Cannon School could agree on: Devon Dotson was the difference maker in the Chargers’ 96-70 victory over the host Cougars.
The sophomore scored a game-high 25 points and pushed the tempo from his point guard spot to open plenty of lanes to the basket and create scoring chances for his teammates. Dotson missed the first matchup between two of the CISAA’s top teams, a 74-67 Providence Day win at home on Jan. 12, with a severe ankle injury.
“Devon Dotson had been out for almost a month,” said Field. “Even though he’s been back a couple games, this was the first one where I saw the explosiveness back in his game. I thought he attacked the rim well and created opportunities for his teammates by putting his feet in the paint.”
Dotson was at his best when he scored six straight points inside the first minute of the second quarter as the Chargers started to pull away. He scored 16 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter when Cannon tried desperately to get back in the game.
When asked about the difference between Friday’s game and the matchup 2 1/2 weeks ago when his Cougars nearly upset Providence Day, Roth had a quick and reassuring answer.
“Dotson didn’t play. We made some shots tonight but others we couldn’t finish, and we couldn’t get in an offensive rhythm.”
First place Providence Day created some separation between itself and Cannon School, which was tied for second with Charlotte Latin entering Friday’s games. The Chargers are ranked No. 1 in The Sweet 16 and are placed in a couple of national polls’ top 20.
Providence Day’s starting five accounted for all of its points. Despite playing with a sprained thumb on his shooting hand, sophomore guard Trey Wertz hit four 3-pointers and scored 21 points.
Josh Howard and Grant Williams, both senior post players, added 20 and 19 points, respectively. Another senior forward, Isaac Johnson, chipped in with 11.
Sophomore swingman Jairus Hamilton led Cannon School with 19 points, including 14 in the first half. Junior forward Philip McKenzie scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half. Junior guard Cory Devreaux added 14.
The Chargers outscored the Cougars 9-0 over a span of 1:23 between the first and second quarters, giving them a 25-13 lead. Three-point plays by Williams and Howard inside the final two minutes of the second quarter gave Providence Day a 44-28 halftime lead.
Providence Day 23-3, 6-0 CISAA 3A; Cannon School 16-7, 3-2.
Cannon School led just once, 6-3, with four minutes, 42 seconds in the fourth quarter. The Cougars trailed by 30 entering the fourth quarter but cut the lead to 77-57 with 4:42 remaining.
Providence Day plays at CISAA 3A rival Charlotte Latin on Feb. 3; that same night, Cannon School visits Charlotte Christian.