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Providence boys reach 5-A title game

NORCROSS -- The Providence Christian boys started the season with eight varsity players and lost one to an injury. But the Stars are getting a big effort from their little roster.

Charlie Scott scored 17 points and Kareem Adekunle had 20 rebounds to go with 12 points as Providence advanced to tonight's Region 5-A championship game with a 52-42 victory over St. Francis on Friday night at Wesleyan's Yancey Gymnasium.

The Stars (18-9) will play Mt. Pisgah (18-9) at 7:30 p.m. as they seek a second region title in three years under coach Ivan Iverson.

"We knew the players we had would have to play a lot of minutes and we worked them hard before the season," Iverson said. "They're in good shape and they're showing it."

Providence has used just six players in the region tournament and only five scored against St. Francis. But that was enough as the Stars first-place finishers in Division B defeated the Knights for the third time.

Nate Bucher, one of three returning starters from a year ago, had 11 points, while ABJ Kushanu scored seven and Nikko Cormier five.

"We have three seniors who had played a lot, so they are used to be out there," Iverson said. "That helps. We had high expectations for this season."

Providence led 25-10 after the first quarter and was up 26-22 at halftime as Adekunle had 13 rebounds and Scott 10 points with a trio of 3-pointers.

The Stars pushed the lead to 40-29 going into the fourth quarter and St. Francis could never get closer than seven points.

Justis Morgan led St. Francis with 17 points, but he was the only double-figure scorer.

Mt. Pisgah finished fourth in Providence's division during the regular season, but the teams split their two games.

The Stars appear to be playing their best basketball of the season right now, though.

"We played a very tough schedule and that has helped us get ready for the postseason," said Iverson.

Mt. Pisgah 52, Wesleyan 51

Wesleyan's late comeback fell just short as Mt. Pisgah advanced to the region championship game with a 52-51 victory behind a 20-point effort from Southern Miss football signee Kyle Sloter.

Sloter hit five of Mt Pisgah's nine 3-pointers and the Patriots led 49-41 after an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter. But host Wesleyan got within a point on Shane Smith's 3-point play with 39 seconds and had two chances to go ahead. But Will Clifton missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 10 seconds remaining and Takim Williams couldn't hit a jumper as the final seconds ticked off.

Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Wesleyan (17-10). Clifton and Charles Mack each scored 11.

The Wolves will play St. Francis in the third-place game today at 4:30 p.m. Wesleyan won the two regular-season meetings.

Wesleyan led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and was up 18-14 in the second quarter before Mt. Pisgah ran off 10 straight points to go up 24-18 at halftime on back-to-back 3-pointers, the last coming at the buzzer.

Wesleyan, though, battled back to go up 37-34 at the third quarter and set the stage for a wild fourth quarter in which first Mt. Pisgah a state tournament qualifier for the first time -- and then Wesleyan mounted runs.

Wesleyan was the No. 2 seed and Mt. Pisgah the No. 4 from Division B, but the teams had split their two regular-season games, each winning on the other's court.