Charger girls don’t mind taking tough road to titles
The Providence Day girls basketball team hasn’t lost a conference game in nine years – back when members of the current roster were in elementary school.
But while the Chargers have dominated the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association for years – and won six of the past seven private-school 3A state championships – no one can accuse them of building a reputation off inferior competition.
Fourth-year Chargers coach Josh Springer said he seeks top national and statewide opponents to make his team stronger for conference and state tournament play. This season alone, Providence Day has played in two national tournaments and faced squads from Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida – and posted a 19-4 record in the process.
“We don’t play the cupcake schedule,” Springer said. “I’ll match our schedule up against anybody in the state – anybody. And that’s done intentionally. We’ve unfortunately lost a couple games, but our goal as a (coaching) staff is to get our kids battle-tested for the conference season and then for the state tournament.”
Last week, the Chargers had two tough matchups, and they went 1-1.
On Jan. 24, they traveled to Asheville to face Carolina Day, an unbeaten 2A private-school program. The Chargers lost, 62-52. Three days later, Providence Day visited conference foe Charlotte Christian, one of the best 3A independent squads in the state, and hammered the Knights by 27 points.
Springer said both outings were helpful because they were raucous environments, as fans sit (or stand) close to the teams on the court and are loud for the duration.
“We went up to Carolina Day,” Springer said, “and it was a great environment like (Charlotte Christian); they had a band, and the place was packed. And the (score) was 50-50 with three minutes to go, and unfortunately they got a break and won the game by 10. But it was really a two- or –four-point game. We were 6-for-17 from the free-throw line that game, and we were 13-for-16 (against Christian).
“The environment we played in Tuesday and the environment we played in (at Christian) were the exact same. Nobody in Charlotte knows about Carolina Day, but Carolina Day is on a 50-some game win streak over two years.”
Then, Springer smiled.
“But we’ve got them again on Feb. 10 at our place,” he said.
Myers Park girls still undefeated
The showdown between unbeaten Myers Park (21-0) and the Southwestern 4A’s second-place girls team, Ardrey Kell, lived up to the hype, but in a different way than many expected. Myers Park beat the Knights for the second time this season, winning 32-24 on Jan. 27 in a game that more resembled a baseball pitchers duel than a basketball game.
Myers Park led 3-2 after the first quarter and the score was 10-10 at the half.
“We were frustrated at halftime, but I went into the locker room really happy,” Mustangs coach Dustin Terrel said. “We had just played probably the worst half we played all year, and we still had the lead. I told (our players) we were going to win, and they responded.”
The second half saw Myers Park slow the pace down and force Ardrey Kell out of its packed-in zone defense designed to slow down the Mustang post players.
“The way the game was going, I was happy that we had a lead,” Terrel said. “If (Ardrey Kell) had let us, we would have just dribbled the clock out.”
Ardrey Kell (17-4) eventually came out of the zone, and that opened things up for freshman Aliyah Mazyck, who nailed two consecutive 3-pointers in the second half to push a one-point lead to seven.
“Those were the biggest shots of her career,” Terrel said. “Those were backbreakers, and I love that girl for making those shots.”
Ardrey Kell girls happy with effort
Despite her team’s eight-point loss to Myers Park on Jan. 27, Ardrey Kell girls coach Tina Lawrence said she was happy with how the Knights performed.
“That game was all about heart,” she said. “We could have easily folded with two minutes to go and down by 12, but that was the easy way to go out. (Our players) did everything that I asked them to do, and I was very proud of them.”
Lawrence said the Knights wanted to force Myers Park to shoot from the outside, which worked until Mustang Aliyah Mazyck hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend a close game to a three-possession lead.
Lawrence said the Knights planned on limiting Myers Park’s post players’ effectiveness, stopping penetration and cutting down on their own turnovers – all things they had great success with for most of the game.
“We have some adjustments to make, but we will make them and be ready when we see them again (in the postseason),” Lawrence said. “We have some things to work on, but I was very proud of how we played. (The Mustangs) are well coached and have a lot of good players, but so do we. We will learn from this.”
Bucs’ Erb piling up the points
With an 8-11 overall record, the Charlotte Country Day girls have enjoyed some success and endured some lows. But as the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association season wears on, the Bucs should continue to receive a boost from the steady influence of junior guard Beth Erb.
Erb is averaging 21.3 points per game for the Bucs, along with 3.1 steals. She scored a season-high 32 points in a December win over Fort Mill (S.C.) and has topped 20 points eight times this season, including 25 points in a Jan. 31 win over Charlotte Latin.
Even in January’s lopsided loss to conference foe Providence Day, Erb scored 14 points. As a team, the Bucs managed just 22 points against the Chargers.
“She’s doing well,” Bucs coach Andre Haston said of Erb. “She’s still leading this team, and she’s still exerting herself on the offensive and defensive ends. She fights through pain and does what she needs to do to help this team.
“She’s relentless and she’s not going to stop, no matter what.”
Last season, as a first-year starter, Erb averaged 13.6 points per game, which has made her job tougher this season, she said.
“I’ve gotten more used to it,” she said. “At the beginning of last season, people weren’t expecting anything, so it was easier (to score). Now, (opponents) are playing box-and-one (defenses) and putting their best guards on me.”
Haston said Erb has done a good job adapting to the pressure that comes with being a team’s high scorer. He also marveled at the way she has dealt with opposing defensive sets aimed at stopping her.
“It hasn’t slowed her down,” said Haston.
Charlotte Latin back on track
The Charlotte Latin boys, who had lost two of four games, got back to their winning ways with a 65-53 win over Charlotte Country Day on Jan. 31.
The Hawks (13-8) made nine of their 23 first-half 3-pointers and limited Bucs star Ben Simons to just three points on the night.
“We shot the ball extremely well and I think we did a great job on Ben Simons, who we are scared to death of,” Latin coach Chris Berger said. “We wanted to pick him up at halfcourt because that is his (shooting) range, and Matt (Tome) did a great job on him.”
Adam Hermann, Jacob Nabatoff and Tome had strong scoring performances for the Hawks, but Rusty Reigel led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“We had four guys in double digits, and if we can get consistent scoring like that, we will be a tough out for anyone,” Berger said. “Everyone has to play their role for us to be successful, and (against Country Day) everyone did.”