Tuesday night, the NCISAA state playoffs continue with quarterfinal and semifinal play.
In all, 14 Charlotte-area teams are still alive. That includes six girls teams (Northside Christian, Victory Christian, Statesville Christian, Concord Academy, Providence Day, Cannon) and eight boys (United Faith, Victory Christian, Northside Christian, Gaston Day, Concord Academy, Gaston Christian, Providence Day, Carmel Christian).
Three of Tuesday’s semifinals will include area teams facing each other.
In 1A, the Victory Christian boys are at Northside Christian. Victory Christian’s girls will host Northside in 1A. And in 4A, Providence Day is at Carmel Christian in the area’s top game of the night.
Carmel Christian, No. 1 in The Sweet 16, is the defending state champion. Providence Day, once among the Carolinas’ top programs, are hunting a big upset. And that’s why Carmel Christian feels like it’ll have to play better than it did in Tuesday’s 66-50 win over Charlotte Latin to advance to the state final for a third straight season.
“It’s going to be a lot like this game (against Latin),” Carmel forward Bryce Cash said. “There’s going to be a lot of fans because it’s a highly anticipated matchup.”
Providence Day has recovered from a five-game losing streak in December and overcome the loss of a starter who transferred to a public school and another key player who left the team. The Chargers have won three in a row and upset Rabun Gap 49-44 Saturday in Georgia, led by 17 points and seven rebounds from 6-5 sophomore Trajan Thompson.
Carmel, meanwhile, has been a state title favorite all season despite returning four players from last season’s state championship team. And coach Joe Badgett said only two of them, guard Boston Smith and center Kaleb Siler, played any meaningful minutes. The Cougars added four high profile transfers — Bryce Cash (Charlotte Christian), Mike Marcus (Covenant Day) Jaeden Mustaf (DeMatha, MD) and Khamani Wertz (Providence Day) — and have been ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams for much of the season.
Badgett feels his team’s 27-3 record, against of the toughest schedules in the state, has been built with defense.
To continue to advance in the playoffs, Badgett feels, that emphasis must remain.
“It’s the same thing for us, we have to defend,” Badgett said. “They (Providence Day) are going to play hard, they are well coached. We have a game plan and we know how we want to defend them.”
A year ago, Carmel clipped the Chargers by just one point, 60-59, in a regular-season game. So, there will be some added motivation for the Chargers, and the Carmel players are expecting a large Providence Day crowd and a maximum Providence Day effort.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Mustaf said. “I’m pretty sure they will bring a student section. It’s a semifinal game so we are going to do the same.”
NCISAA playoff pairings
Providence Day (20-13) at Carmel Christian (27-3), 7
Ravenscroft School (25-6) at Christ School (29-4)
Asheville School (19-6) at Concord Academy (30-6)
Gaston Christian (23-9) at Greensboro Day (28-5), 6
Trinity Christian (21-8) at The Burlington School (20-15)
Gaston Day (17-9) at Trinity Academy (22-5), 5
Fayetteville Academy (22-7) at Greenfield School (27-10)
Westchester Country Day (10-14) at Caldwell Academy (19-11)
Crossroads Christian (26-7) at United Faith Christian (30-2), 7
Victory Christian (14-13) at Northside Christian (20-14)
High Point Wesleyan (23-9) at Cannon School (23-5)
Rabun Gap School (23-7) at Providence Day (21-6)
Asheville Christian (9-13) at Concord Academy (22-7)
John Paul II Catholic (18-5) at High Point Christian (19-8)
Fayetteville Christian (10-7) at Wayne Country Day (25-1)
Rocky Mount Academy (15-5) at Greenfield School (16-11), 5:30
Statesville Christian (11-9) at O’Neal School (25-2), 6
Trinity Christian (12-6) at Sanford Grace Christian (29-3)
Crossroads Christian (24-3) at Pungo Christian (23-3)
Northside Christian (21-10) at. Victory Christian (18-6)