The Providence Day Chargers came up just short Tuesday night against High Point Wesleyan, the No. 2 ranked team in USA Today’s poll.
Wesleyan, the two-time defending NCISAA 3A champion led by Harry Giles, the nation’s No. 3-ranked player, escaped before a packed house with a 60-58 win.
The Chargers (0-2) led by three with 1:30 left, only to see the Trojans sink two contested shots and a key free throw late. Providence Day had one last chance to tie the score, but its off-balance shot with one second left never caught the rim.
The biggest lead of the game for Wesleyan (3-0) was nine. Providence Day trailed by only five at the half and went toe-to-toe with the Trojans the entire game.
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“I’m really proud of our effort and that we didn’t play intimidated,” Chargers coach Brian Field said. “Obviously we’re pleased with the potential we see in the fact that we’re hanging with these giants, but we also want to finish games. We felt like we had an opportunity and didn’t finish it out.”
With all the attention on the 6-foot-9 Giles, the best player on the floor this night might have been Providence Day’s Grant Williams, a 6-7 junior. Williams led all scorers with 26 points and battled all night with Giles underneath.
“We love to compete against each other,” Williams said. “We were competing with each other; talking, we have known each other for a long time so it’s fun to play against him.”
Giles was the game’s second-leading scorer 21 points, while Jalen Johnson added 14 and Michael Buckland 10 for the Trojans.
Besides Williams game-high 26 points, Josh Howard and Chaz Raye also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 respectively for Providence Day.
In 2013, Giles won the 3A state championship on this same floor as a freshman for Wesleyan, in a game where he was also named most valuable player. Did it bring back memories?
“For sure,” Giles said. “Before the game I told the team that this is where I won states. I just wanted to go out here and play hard. Running down the court just took me back.”
Providence Day and Wesleyancould face each other in the state playoffs in February. “Hopefully we get them in the state championship,” Williams said. “That’s what I want. A bigger stage.”