Davie girls win first playoff game

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

It was the mother of foul-trouble games, and it spelled a 65-53 loss at McDowell in the second round of the 4-A playoffs.

The Davie girls basketball team’s season is over, but the season couldn’t have been much better. Coach Dave Ruemenapp’s second Davie squad advanced by defeating Porter Ridge in the first round in what was the War Eagles’ first playoff appearance in four years.

“McDowell was really good, but I don’t know that they were that much better than us,” Ruemenapp said. “They have a really good point guard and they shoot the ball really well. But we really played them hard. We played as hard as we possibly could. We showed a tremendous amount of courage. The way we went out, I was very proud of them.”

The War Eagles beat visiting Porter Ridge going away, 51-34, on Feb. 25 in the first game in 12 days. The last game was a win over Mt. Tabor on Feb. 13, then the entire Central Piedmont Conference Tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The 23rd-seeded Pirates finished 14-11. The 10th-seeded War Eagles improved to 18-6 with their fourth straight win and the seventh victory in eight games.

It didn’t start so well. The Pirates jumped to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter. But Davie didn’t flinch, a blistering 18-5 run lifting it to a 23-16 halftime lead.

“Once we got our legs under us, we were OK,” Ruemenapp said. “I was pretty nervous in the first quarter.”

Davie pushed the margin to 38-26 in the third, and the lead grew some more in the fourth.

After the first quarter, the War Eagles hammered Porter Ridge 46-23. Madison Zaferatos (14 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and De’Jah Joyner (11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals) were the catalysts. Joyner converted four of five field goals and grabbed 11 rebounds for the second game in a row. Aubriana Peebles and Ashlyn Hampton scored nine points each, while Asiah Peterson and McKayla Bohannon contributed four each.

Davie pounded the ball inside to Joyner, Peebles and Hampton, drew fouls and hit 19 of 31 free throws.

“Peebles gave us a nice push off the bench,” he said. “Joyner gave us an emotional lift. We put Hampton in the middle of the halfcourt trap that they were running, and she did a nice job of finding other people and taking some shots herself. She knocked down a bunch of free throws, even after she got pushed to the floor pretty hard a couple times.”

It was just another day at the office for Zaferatos, the junior floor general.

“She throws passes that gets us easy buckets,” he said. “Once we had the (comfortable) lead near the end of the third and in the fourth, she controlled the tempo, which is all I asked her to do. She realized how she needed to milk the clock. I’ve seen a little bit of (Porter Ridge) and they can press really well. The fact that she was able to manage that and get us into the right sets and run a little bit of time … one time we held the ball for close to a minute.”

Three days later in the sectional semifinals at McDowell, the War Eagles were undone by early foul trouble.

The seventh-seeded Titans, who beat No. 26 West Mecklenburg (12-11) in the first round, improved to 21-6.

The War Eagles stunned McDowell with an 8-2 burst in the beginning, shrugging off the Titans’ press in the process, but the Titans answered with a vicious 19-2 run to end the first quarter. That resulted in a 21-10 McDowell lead.

Joyner, Bohannon and Peebles had three fouls each in the first half. Peebles would foul out. Peterson, Zaferatos and Bohannon finished the game with four fouls. McDowell took advantage, hitting 10 free throws in the first quarter and finishing the game an impressive 26 of 30 from the charity stripe. By contrast, Davie was only eight of 14.

Davie didn’t roll over – McDowell outscored Davie 44-43 after the first quarter – but it never seriously threatened.

“We got in foul trouble early on, and that was the obstacle we never could overcome,” Ruemenapp said. “The bench people came in and played their hearts out, but we just had a tough time scoring.”

Joyner (15 points, 15 rebounds) enjoyed a second straight double-double. Hampton (11 points, 17 rebounds) turned in the fifth double-double of her sophomore season. Zaferatos (10 points, nine assists) scored in double figures for the 22nd time this season. Bohannon added eight points.

The seeds sewn during a 9-15 season in Ruemenapp’s first year as Davie’s coach were in full bloom in 2014-15. Dramatically improved, the War Eagles finished 18-7 as they recorded the most wins in 12 years. They won their first playoff game in 10 years. The last playoff win was over East Meck in ‘05 when Karen Stephens was coach. They ended a five-game losing streak in the playoffs, losing in the first round in ‘07, ‘09, ‘10 and ‘11.

Ruemenapp said good-bye to three seniors – Peterson, Joyner and Bohannon. He viewed all three as invaluable.

On Peterson, he said: “In my two years here, I thought she was the heart and soul of our team. She did anything and everything we ever asked her to do. Not only was she a workhorse on the floor and played out of position a lot of the time, but she led our efforts in offseason conditioning. As a captain, she really worked hard to try to make everybody in the program work up to the level we needed in order to be able to succeed.”

On Joyner: “She provided a huge inspiration to our team. By the time she got real comfortable with us by the second half of the year (she transferred back to Davie for her senior year), she was our emotional leader. I mean she was a cheerleader before games and she would often give us a huge spark. The McDowell game was another great example. When we needed somebody to step up and do something, it seemed like she did that a lot of the time. She deserves a bunch of credit for the success we had this year.”

And on Bohannon: “I think she’s sort of been the unsung hero of the success we had this year. She was the best on-the-ball defender we had, and I think she was one of the best on-the-ball defenders I’ve seen in the two years I’ve been here. She got the assignment of shutting down the other team’s best player every game, and she did it magnificently. As a result of that, she gave us a chance to stay in just about every game.”

Notes: McDowell faced unbeaten Reynolds (25-0) in the sectional finals. … With the top three scorers returning next season – Zaferatos (13.6), Hampton (9.8) and Peebles (8) – the War Eagles will be expected to push for 20 wins. Joyner was fourth at 6.6, followed by Peterson at 6.4 and Bohannon at 4.2.

Davie 51, Porter Ridge 34 – Madison Zaferatos 14, De’Jah Joyner 11, Aubriana Peebles 9, Ashlyn Hampton 9, Asiah Peterson 4, McKayla Bohannon 4.

McDowell 65, Davie 53 – De’Jah Joyner 15, Ashlyn Hampton 11, Madison Zaferatos 10, McKayla Bohannon 8, Aubriana Peebles 4, Patterson Jones 3, Asiah Peterson 2.