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Charlotte, N.C. – Senior point guard Devon Dotson (Kansas signee) poured in 32 points for Providence Day (9-4) as the Chargers cruised past Hickory Grove Christian (6-6) by a score of 81-64.
Saturday’s non-conference matchup marked the first game for Providence Day back in the United States since playing in five contests at the International Youth Basketball Spectacular in China. Chargers head coach Brian Field was initially concerned during the pregame that the weekend challenge against Hickory Grove might act as a “trap game” for his team.
“We were kind of in recovery mode early on this week,” said Field when asked about transitioning back to being at home. “I was a little worried about today being a trap game for us and the guys proved me wrong.”
Providence Day never trailed against Hickory Grove as the Chargers built a 10-point advantage in the opening minutes and then kept the Lions at arm’s length for the duration of the game. The Hickory Grove defense had no answers for the speedy Dotson as the 6’2 guard scored the majority of his points in transition.
Hickory Grove senior Austin Hadden scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half of play to prevent Providence Day from completely breaking open the game. The 6’3 guard was impressive at finding ways to draw contact and get to the free throw line. Hadden connected on 7 for 7 free throws in the first half as Providence Day took a 47-30 lead into the halftime break.
Providence Day seniors Isaac Suffren and Trey Wertz (Santa Clara signee) turned in double-digit performances with 13 and 11 points respectively. The three-headed attack of Dotson, Suffren and Wertz should be a tough challenge for any opponent to counter this season.
The five-star recruit Dotson is nearly impossible to guard when he’s driving downhill towards the basket. Defenses are often forced to over-commit in the paint which frees up the sharpshooting ability of Wertz. As for Suffren, the 6’3 forward does it all for the Chargers. Suffren is the team’s best defender and is extremely opportunistic around the rim on offense.
The talent of Providence Day will face several major tests before the New Year with appearances at two high-profile holiday tournaments in the Southeast. The first coming at the 16th annual Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C and the second being at the prestigious Hoodie’s House of Hope National Showcase in Charlotte.
“I think our guys have some confidence,” said Field. “We’ve been fortunate to win Hoodie’s the last two years, but [in the] Chick-Fil-A we’ve lost our first two games the last two years down there. So I think we are going in with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder and try to see if we can’t win that tournament.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Chick-Fil-A Classic is that Providence Day could potentially be in for a rematch with Charlotte-area power and the USA Today’s No. 23rd-ranked team in Cox Mill. The two schools would play on Friday at 3:50 p.m. if both teams were to win the first-round.
The Chargers lost by a score of 64-59 in the team’s first meeting with Cox Mill. Providence Day (a private school in South Charlotte) and Cox Mill (a public school in the Charlotte suburb city of Concord) seemingly built up somewhat of a rivalry in the offseason. The two teams have star-power with Providence Day’s Dotson and Cox Mill’s 5-star junior Wendell Moore and 4-star senior Rechon Black (UNC signee).
“We gotta get through our first round game first and they obviously have to win, but I think walking off the court from the Charlotte Hoops Challenge we were excited to maybe have that opportunity again,” said Field. “They are a great team and our guys like to play against great programs.”
Providence Day will begin play at the Chick-Fil-A Classic on Thursday with a 12:00 p.m. game against Westside (GA).