Wilkins, Williams power ND boys

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, December 31, 2015

Riding a pair of seventh graders, North Davie’s boys basketball team is on its longest winning streak in nine years.

In a 47-42 road win over High Point Christian on Dec. 15, seventh-grader James Wilkins elevated his game to a level not seen at North in 18 years. He poured in 29 points, putting up the most by a North male since Sean Stevens had 29 for North’s eighth-grade team in a 58-41 win over Chestnut Grove in 1997-98. Wilkins’ previous high was 21 in a loss at South Davie on Nov. 24.

“James was great taking care of the ball and scoring,” coach Matt McPherson said. “They really could not stop him.”

After falling behind 15-8 in the first quarter, the Wildcats rallied to a 22-21 halftime lead and never trailed again. They pushed the lead to 36-32 in the third.

“We got off to a real slow start and battled back nicely,” McPherson said. “We got into real early foul trouble and were playing most of the first half with bench players, who really stepped up to help us regain the lead.”

Adrian Cranfill was second for North with eight points.

“A nice road win,” he said. “We had eight blocks and many forced turnovers.”

Another talented seventh grader, Aaron Williams, powered North to a 54-35 win at Starmount on Dec. 17. Williams scored 18 points to lead the fifth straight win for North (6-2), which last won five in a row in 2006-07.

It was a season-high performance by Williams, who had 13, 11 and 12 in earlier games.  Wilkins was next with 14, followed by Grant Copeland with eight and Cranfill with seven.

“It was a great win before Christmas,” McPherson said. “We played as well as I have ever seen us play. We were disciplined on offense and ran our flex over and over. The kids made the offense turn over several times, and when the defense showed their weakness, they were unselfish and took advantage. Defensively, we shut down their scorers in the second half. We showed at least three different types of rotations between switches – hedging ball screens and trapping ball screens. It was great team defense.”

S. Davie Splits 4 Games

Starmount stopped South Davie’s four-game win streak, beating the visiting Tigers 44-38 on Dec. 10.

Their halftime deficit was only 16-15, but Starmount pulled away with a 16-7 run in the third. Alex Ratledge and Brooks Johnson led with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Ben Crenshaw added five.

“We came out flat,” coach Germain Mayfield said. “We had had a bad week of practice. We played bad against Ellis (the game before) and it carried over.”

The Tigers responded beautifully, routing West Wilkes 60-38 on the road on Dec. 14.

“That’s probably the best we’ve played all year,” Mayfield said. “We were really aggressive. If we would have played Starmount like we did West Wilkes, we would have beat Starmount by 20.”

The Tigers flourished against adversity. With Crenshaw, the third-leading scorer, sidelined by an injury, Mayfield needed someone to replace Crenshaw’s 8.4 average. Mayfield turned Matthew Daniel loose, and Daniel delivered 13 points, or 10 above his average. M.J. Holleman also stepped up, scoring 10 in his first start of the season. Holleman entered with a 3.5 average.

Johnson and Ratledge played customary starring roles with 15 and 12, respectively.

“Daniel got big-time minutes and played really well,” Mayfield said. “He might be coming along. He’s a good player. He just hasn’t played much basketball.

“M.J. is coming along. He’s starting to do it all. We just moved him to the starting lineup and it paid off.”

South handled North Lincolnton, 46-29, in day one of a four-team tournament at Statesville Middle on Dec. 18.

Johnson (18) and Ratledge (15) carried the load once again as South bolted to a 15-5, first-quarter lead and cruised. Matthew James contributed five points, while Daniel and Holleman had four apiece.

In the championship game against Lincolnton on Dec. 19, South fought back in the third quarter but saw foul trouble doom any hopes it had in a 62-41 defeat.

Trailing 35-20 at intermission, the Tigers charged back within six in the third. But then Ratledge picked up his fourth foul, and that was that.

“Then we started turning the ball over and they got the lead back up,” Mayfield said. “We came out great in the third, but we don’t have that other ball handler (with Crenshaw sidelined).”

Johnson led with 16 points. He has scored at least 12 in every game, boosting his average to 14. Holleman had seven and Austin Shaver five. Ratledge, who entered with a 14.8 average after hitting double figures in eight straight games, was held to four. Bryceson Cozart also had four.

South (7-3) was dealt its worst loss of the season, the other defeats being by five and six points.

“We played awful, but they were still 7-10 points better than us,” he said. “We just turned the ball over way too much.”

Ellis Splits Two

Ellis fell behind 14-5 in the first quarter and never found an answer in a 48-26 home loss to Quality Education Academy on Dec. 14.

“We didn’t play very well from the start,” coach Johnny Hill said after the Jaguars’ worst loss in four years. “Not to take anything away from them, but we didn’t play with any confidence.”

Nate Hampton paced Ellis with 12 points and Isaac McCullar had four.

Ellis rebounded with a 39-34 win at Forbush on Dec. 17. The Jaguars led 6-4 after the first, 21-16 at the half and 29-26 after the third, improving to 5-3 with the second win of the year over the Falcons.

Ellis won by 11 on Nov. 23.

“Every time it looked like we could go on a run, we turned the ball over and let them right back in the game,” Hill said.

Hampton had 11 team-high points, hitting double figures for the seventh time. Sam Hendrix had seven, while Luke Williams and Zach Smith had five each.

Starmount 44, S. Davie 38 – Alex Ratledge 15, Brooks Johnson 12, Ben Crenshaw 5, Matthew Daniel 2, Matthew James 2, M.J. Holleman 2.

S. Davie 60, W. Wilkes 38 – Brooks Johnson 15, Matthew Daniel 13, Alex Ratledge 12, M.J. Holleman 10, Matthew James 4, Winn Fuller 4, Austin Shaver 2.

Quality Education Academy 48, Ellis 26 – Nate Hampton 12, Isaac McCullar 4, Caleb Bowling 3, Owen Gulledge 2, Justin Lunsford 2, Shaemarr Hairston 2, Noah Teeter 1.

Ellis 39, Forbush 34 – Nate Hampton 11, Sam Hendrix 7, Luke Williams 5, Zach Smith 5, Jake Hill 3, Shaemarr Hairston 3, Caleb Bowling 3, Isaac McCullar 2.

N. Davie 54, Starmount 35 – Aaron Williams 18, James Wilkins 14, Grant Copeland 8, Adrian Cranfill 7.

S. Davie 46, North Lincolnton 29 – Brooks Johnson 18, Alex Ratledge 15, Matthew James 5, Matthew Daniel 4, M.J. Holleman 4.

Lincolnton 62, S. Davie 41 – Brooks Johnson 16, M.J. Holleman 7, Austin Shaver 5, Alex Ratledge 4, Bryceson Cozart 4, Jack Nixon 2, Gage Recktenwald 2, Zy’Mier Lewis 1.