RALEIGH – “Six straight” has nice a ring to it.
Speaking of rings, someone better tell the jeweler that the Carolina Day girls are due for another visit. They collected their sixth straight NCISAA 2-A girls basketball championship on Saturday.
No one scored in double figures. But the second-seeded Wildcats got more than enough firepower out of Western Carolina University recruit Tess Harris (nine points), Halei Gillis (eight), Zaria Joyner (eight) and Mikayla Ray (six) to fight past No. 1 Davidson Day, 43-34, at Ravenscroft School.
That gives the Buncombe County program a Western North Carolina-record eight overall state championships in girls basketball. The previous record (six) had been shared by Carolina Day and the Hayesville girls until last season.
The Wildcats have been coached since 2010 by Joe Carrington and only have three seniors — Harris, Ray and Franziska Schaper. They lost earlier this season at home to Davidson Day, 62-44, a game played Dec. 14 in Asheville.
“This one is really sweet. People discounted this team,” Carrington said.
“Everyone keeps waiting for these kids to lose, but they just refuse to lose.”
The Wildcats were missing two key players due to injury for the first Davidson Day game — point guard Ralene Kwiatkowski and Ray, who is a forward.
Both were available for Saturday’s rematch and the Wildcats (25-3) broke open a low-scoring game that was tied 19-19 at the half. Davidson Day (27-3) also didn’t have any individual manage double figures, getting eight points apiece from Maya Caldwell, Parker Thompkins and Annika Riley.
“It’s not going to be the same when I go off to college and I know that,” Harris said.
“After we broke it down (Saturday) and were getting ready to play, Mikayla was crying. She just said she was ready to play and it hit all of us.”
Carrington was especially happy with the play of Kwiatkowski, calling her “the MVP of the tournament for us.” Gillis and Kwiatkowski were named to the NCISAA 2-A all-state team.
Gillis said her team fed off the negative energy directed its way during an “amazing” championship run and others agreed.
“It feels like people doubted this team more than any Joe has coached here at Carolina Day,” Kwiatkowski said.
“We just came together at the right time and we are all playing our best at the end of the season. Mikayla was really emotional before the game and everyone was inspired by that. We wanted to go out with a bang for our seniors.”
Carolina Day’s previous two state championships in girls basketball occurred in 1995 and 1996 at the NCISAA 1-A level under former coach Jack Warren.