Ardrey Kell and Providence entered Friday's game tied for No. 16 in the Observer's Sweet 16 poll.
In front of a boisterous crowd which cheered at ear-splitting levels throughout the rivalry game, the Knights stopped Providence 56-50.
It was Providence's second straight loss and gave East Mecklenburg a little breathing room in league play.
Ardrey Kell’s Justin Cheek and Cameron McQueen combined for 37 points Friday, including 27 in the second half. The victory earned Ardrey Kell (12-6, 4-2) a tie with the Panthers (11-6, 4-2) for second in the conference behind East Mecklenburg (9-9, 5-1).
“We’ve been waiting on Cameron and Justin to have good games together,” Knights coach Mike Craft said. “If they get 20 apiece, then we’ve got 40 points right there and the other guys are great role players and they did a heck of a job playing their roles.”
Cheek, a guard, and McQueen, the center, sparked a 19-9 fourth quarter to turn the tide on a four-point deficit. Cheek and McQueen accounted for 11 of 15 unanswered Ardrey Kell points to open the quarter, with Cheek scoring seven to provide the Knights a 52-41 advantage. Defensively, Ardrey Kell was superb, holding Providence scoreless until Terrance Hampton’s three-pointer with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left.
“On the defensive end, we had trouble stopping Terrance, but we went zone and that kind of cooled him off a little bit,” Craft said. “We did a great job rebounding out of it and we made a commitment we were going to stay in the zone and see what happens because we really couldn’t guard him.”
Hampton finished with 22 points to lead all scorers, while Damon Magazu was the only other Panther to hit double-digits with 12 points.
Ardrey Kell 10 12 15 19-56
Providence 10 11 20 9-50
Ardrey Kell – Justin Cheek 20, Cameron McQueen 17, Alexander 7, Cox 5, Owens 4, Selton 3.
Providence – Terrance Hampton 22, Damon Magazu 12, McKinney 8, Green 3, Van Lanen 3, Davenport 2.