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Providence Day has faced its fair share of challenges in the 2017-18 season. In the midst of it all, the team’s steadying forces have been in its four seniors: Devon Dotson, Isaac Suffren, Trey Wertz and Kyle Wood.
The Chargers endured a demanding non-conference schedule that included games all over the east coast and even in China. During that time frame, there were several moments that especially tested the character of the team.
The school's first obstacle came in late November when the Chargers suffered consecutive losses versus two of the top programs in the state of North Carolina, the first being against Cox Mill.
Cox Mill and Providence Day entered the highly-anticipated showdown as the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the Charlotte Observer Sweet 16 poll. The game was hyped as the premier matchup of the Charlotte Hoops Challenge, with a capacity crowd pouring into Berry Academy to watch.
Save the Date- 11/25/17: CHC8 Sweet 16 matchups #1 Mallard Creek vs #2 Ardrey Kell (girls) followed by #1 Cox Mill vs #2 Providence Day. Get tickets now before they sell out! pic.twitter.com/ekGw3qOPmh
— Charlotte Hoops (@CHoopsChallenge) November 12, 2017
With the game featuring three players in the ESPN Top 100 (Dotson, Rechon Black and Wendell Moore), attending fans were expecting to see a highlight-filled contest with unmatched offensive firepower. Instead, the game quickly turned into a grind-it-out slugfest with fouls and free throws becoming the deciding factors in a 64-59 win for Cox Mill.
Just three days later, Providence Day battled against the defending NCISAA 3A state champions of Greensboro Day.
With the game taking place at Providence Day, the Chargers were poised to gain a crucial win for potential playoff seedings at the end of the regular season.
However, the rebound victory would not to be realized as the Bengals displayed a stifling defense that disrupted the way in which Providence Day likes to push the ball and find easy baskets in transition. Greensboro Day survived a late run by the Chargers to win 53-51.
After these two disappointing losses, it may have been easy for Dotson, Suffren, Wertz and Wood to mentally lose their focus– for even just a moment.
All four of the seniors have bright futures at the next level. Dotson will join Jayhawk nation at Kansas. Wertz will play at Santa Clara, while Suffren is mulling over offers from Drexel, Presbyterian and others. Finally, Wood will take his talents to the football field at Washington and Lee University.
The tendency to look towards the future rather than embracing the challenges of the present can often be a difficult temptation to overcome.
However the commitment levels of Dotson, Suffren, Wertz and Wood were never in doubt. Just one month later, the Chargers got their revenge against Cox Mill at the Chick-fil-A Classic and won the title at the prestigious holiday tournament.
— Lou Bezjak (@LouatTheState) December 24, 2017
Providence Day had to similarly prove its mettle in early January after losing three games against the likes of York Prep, Christ School and conference-rival Charlotte Christian. The loss against Charlotte Christian was especially painful because the Chargers led by as many 13 points on their home-floor before losing 67-65.
Again though, the seniors never lost their confidence as the Chargers notched their first win on Jan. 16th, in what has now become a six-game winning streak.
The win over Cannon and against Charlotte Christian in the rematch, especially showcased the resilience of Providence Day’s four seniors. The defensive intensity and effort levels were at an all-time high, which starts at the top before trickling down.
Sophomore center John Miralia has been particularly productive during this winning streak. Credit Miralia for hitting his stride, but you have to also look at the examples of Dotson, Suffren, Wertz and Wood. They continue to set the tone for Providence Day’s next generation of players
In every game of this run, the the team's underclassmen haven't had to look far before seeing one of their seniors make a hustle play that doesn’t always appear in the box score.
Against Cannon, it was the sustained effort of Dotson guarding 4-star recruit Jairus Hamilton and Wood diving on the floor for loose balls. Against Charlotte Christian, it was Suffren and Wertz working hard on the defensive end before hustling down the court for easy layups and higher percentage three-point shots.
Probably the best team-win I've seen from @pdshoops this season. Granted I wasn't in Columbia for the Chick-fil-A Classic. But I've seen these Chargers play a lot of quality opponents & today was the best I've seen them play as a unit. They beat a really good Cannon team 80-70.
— Michael McLamb (@McLambSays) January 20, 2018
It's really apparent that these guys enjoy playing together. The chemistry is fun to watch and it’s translated to wins on the court.
The future of Providence Day’s four seniors is bright; but at the same time, they’re not looking too far ahead. They’ve got some unfinished business to take care of while they’re still in high school.