Chargers No. 1 again!

Providence Day girls basketball team rolls past competition, en route to THIRD consecutive state championship

by Andrew Stark

The 2011-12 Providence Day Chargers: N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A champions (Aaron Garcia/SCW photo)

RALEIGH – With the clock ticking off the final seconds of Providence Day’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A girls basketball championship victory over Greensboro Day on Feb. 25, coach Josh Springer called a timeout and pulled his starters from the game.

When Chargers senior star Tiffany Mitchell got to Springer on the sidelines, the two smiled and embraced. Winning three consecutive titles had been their dream since February 2009 – the last time the Chargers failed to win the state championship game. As Mitchell, a University of South Carolina recruit, walked into the locker room that day, she told her coaches she wouldn’t lose another one.

She was right, as Providence Day completed its three-year title run with a 66-42 victory at Raleigh’s Ravenscroft School.

The Chargers rarely lost at all during the last three seasons, going 81-14 during that span. Providence Day finished this year with a 29-4 record. Before the season started, the Chargers were heavy favorites to win the state crown, as they returned nine players, including four starters.

“Coming into the year, expectations were extremely high and we wanted to not run from them but embrace the expectations,” Springer said. “Our goal all along was to end up as state champions, and we did that.

“It is hard to get to the top and even tougher to stay there. There is no doubt that is true, but we stuck to our plan and finished on top.”

The game plan against Greensboro Day last weekend was to neutralize all-state post players Renata Rogers and Khadejah Wilkerson. The Chargers, behind their trio of all-state players sophomore Jatarie White (21 points, 13 rebounds), Mitchell (20 points, nine rebounds) and senior Olivia Parker (14 points, five rebounds), dominated the inside all game.

Springer said the box score did no justice to illustrate the impact of White, Mitchell and Parker.

“I have seen them all score 20 points before, and that doesn’t impress me anymore,” Springer said. “Don’t get me wrong, it was great and we needed the points, but the interior defense and energy they brought on the defensive end was the difference.”

Parker and White said the hard work the entire team put in was well worth it.

“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” said Parker, who has signed with Gardner-Webb. “We knew coming in (Greensboro Day was) good and we would have to play our ‘A’ game, and we did that.”

The Chargers, who have not lost a conference game in nine seasons and have won seven of the past eight state titles, will probably be favored to win their fourth consecutive state title next season.

“(This win) means that we want to come back next year and do it again, win another one and keep the tradition up,” said White, the Chargers’ second-leading scorer during the season. “(Next year) I am going to be a leader, pick my teammates up when they need it and go get another one.”

Springer said he was going to enjoy this championship before looking forward to next year.

“We will get back to work soon, but I want the kids to enjoy the pay off from our journey,” he said. “We had to play some tough teams, and we learned from our mistakes. And in the end, we are champions again. This is very exciting for me, my staff and our players.”

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