Caldwell key in South’s dramatic win

Published 2:28 pm Thursday, December 31, 2015

Even West Wilkes’ amazing free-throwing shooting in the fourth quarter couldn’t derail the roll the South Davie girls basketball team is on.

West hit 12 of 14 foul shots in the final six minutes, but the Tigers overcame that and they overcame a three-point deficit in the final minute, winning 44-43 on the road on Dec. 14.

At 6-2 with five straight wins, South is riding the hottest streak in six years. The 2009-10 Tigers who were coached by Gloria Chalmers and led by Emeral Gadson and Ashton Brown won six in a row.

“What a game,” coach Julie Snow said. “That team was really good. They were aggressive and penetrated really well. They also played great man-to-man defense. This is a huge step for these girls and shows their growth.”

Rylea Carter (14.2 points per game) was her usual self with 13 points, but for the first time all season she wasn’t first or tied for first in points. Kayana Caldwell and Cayla Hartsell played out of their minds, especially in the second half, to help the Tigers prevail in dramatic fashion. Caldwell, who came in averaging 3.7 points, exploded for 11 of her team-high 15 in the second half. Hartsell, who entered with a 4.7 average, came through with nine of her 12 in the second half. Madisyn Cockerham and Maliyah Streater chipped in two each.

“You are always going to get what you need from Rylea,” Snow said. “She handles the ball so well, and without her scoring at least 10, we are going to be in trouble.

“Kayana and Cayla went into beast mode in the second half. I would bet money those two had double-doubles (in points and rebounds).”

Caldwell had to go to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. She wound up being the hero, hitting a go-ahead free throw for the game’s final point.

“She played a great game,” Snow said. “(The early foul trouble) hurt because she is such a strong presence in the lane, and it is hard to replace her.”

South held small leads after the first quarter (8-7), at halftime (18-16) and after the third (30-29). Carter’s seven-point second was crucial. “Her second quarter kept us in the game,” Snow said.

The fourth was nerve-wracking. While West converted 16 of 18 free throws for the game, South hit five of 12. But “we hit two big free throws in the fourth,” she said. “We called three timeouts in the fourth to try to keep our girls composed. You could see glimpses of frustration on their faces. We would call a timeout, and they would go back out there and fix it.”

Trailing by three with a minute left, the Tigers clawed within one, only to see West hit a free throw to go back up by two. South scored to make it 43-43 with 30 seconds left.

Caldwell went to the line with six seconds remaining. She hit the first and missed the second. West got the rebound and got a decent look at the basket. But it missed and “pure elation followed,” Snow said.

South scored the most points in 22 games. It routed North Davie 52-23 in 2013-14.

Ellis (1-7) lost to Quality Education Academy and Forbush in the final games before Christmas break.

North Davie lost 35-17 at High Point Christian on Dec. 15. Amber Strader and Desiree Johnson paced the Wildcats with eight and four points, respectively.

The Wildcats (1-7) lost 53-21 at Starmount on Dec. 17. Strader scored eight and Grace Hurst three.

S. Davie 44, W. Wilkes 43 – Kayana Caldwell 15, Rylea Carter 13, Cayla Hartsell 12, Madisyn Cockerham 2, Maliyah Streater 2.

HP Christian 35, N. Davie 17 – Amber Strader 8, Desiree Johnson 4, Grace Hurst 2, Ashton Tilley 2, Abbey Custer 1.

Starmount 53, N. Davie 21 – Amber Strader 8, Grace Hurst 3, Abbey Custer 2, Desiree Johnson 2, Olivia Otto 2, Madalen Decanio 2, Ashton Tilley 2.