A standing-room only crowd showed up at Providence Day on Friday night, packing the gym to see two of the state’s best teams.
The crowd, with loud cheering sections for both sides, watched the Chargers beat Victory Christian 55-48 in a hard-fought, physical game in which no points came easily.
“That’s a great high school game,” Providence Day coach Brian Field said. “That was not a game for little boys; that was for men tonight, and I thought we rose to the challenge, and competed and were lucky to get out of here with a win against a really, really good team.”
The seven-point margin belies how close the game was throughout. Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, and Providence Day had a 26-24 lead at the break.
The Chargers (13-4), ranked No. 2 in the Sweet 16 and No. 7 in the state by MaxPreps, led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, but the Kings (14-6), ranked No. 18 in the state, got back to within two in the final two minutes.
Victory Christian’s Ty Gadsden – who scored all 13 of the Kings’ fourth-quarter points and finished with 19 – hit a three-pointer with about a minute left in the game to cut Providence Day’s lead to 50-48.
The Kings forced a turnover on the ensuing Providence Day possession and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but couldn’t convert.
Providence Day free throws by Chaz Raye, Isaac Johnson and Grant Williams sealed the win.
The physical nature of the game led to both teams getting into foul trouble. Two Victory Christian players and one Providence Day player fouled out of the game.
“We were competing. That’s what we love to do,” Williams said. “And we’re a physical type of team. We know they’re physical, too ... so we just attacked them and we prevailed.”
Victory Christian forward Ebuka Izundu, a Charlotte 49ers signee, scored eight points in the first quarter and was silent the rest of the game after getting in foul trouble early. He fouled out on a charging call midway through the fourth quarter.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Field said about Izundu. “He’s a different kind of player than we’ve seen this year. We’ve seen a lot of really good bigs, but his ability to run and get off the ground quickly is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
With Izundu on the bench for long stretches, Williams flourished in the second half, scoring 14 of his game-high 22 points in the final two periods.
The teams traded the lead five times in the first half. Victory Christian tied the game at 33 late in the third quarter before Trey Wertz’s wide-open 3-pointer with 2:20 left in the third gave Providence Day the lead for good.
Joshua Howard had nine points, and Matthew Lee and Isaac Johnson had seven each for the Chargers. The Knights’ Brent Davis finished with 11 points.