Boys complete winning season

Published 9:13 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

Perhaps word reached you that Davie’s varsity boys basketball team has made a dramatic comeback in 2015-16.

Coach Mike Absher’s War Eagles went 4-21 (0-12 Central Piedmont Conference) and 7-16 (1-11 CPC) the past two years, finishing seventh and in last place both years.

The level of improvement has been fun to watch. After Friday’s win in the final regular-season game, Davie stood at 13-10 overall, clinching a winning season, and 5-7 in the league.

“It’s been a tremendous (regular season),” Absher said. “It’s been a three-year process. There may have been two games this year that I would look back and say maybe that could have gone a different way. Overall, to get 13 wins and to get five wins in the CPC … yeah, I couldn’t be prouder of the team. They’ve stayed the course. They’ve hung in there, bought in and done the things we’ve asked them to do.”

Losing To Tabor

Mt. Tabor was an emphatic favorite when it hosted Davie on Feb. 9, and the Spartans simply overwhelmed Davie 99-56 to clinch the regular-season championship.

Cayse Minor was not satisfied with 29 points when the third quarter ended with Tabor in front 84-44. He scored 11 more in the fourth to finish with 40. It came a few days after he put up 41 against Parkland.

“The kids don’t realize how hard it is to win a Central Piedmont Conference championship,” Tabor coach Andy Muse told the Winston-Salem Journal after his club improved to 20-2, 11-1. “I do because I’ve been here for 24 years. Especially with the league being on an upswing this year.

“Davie County’s not a bad team. We made them look very bad.”

L.P. Mua was a bright spot with 15 points, coming one from his career high. Peyton Hampton had nine, while Nic Starnes and Heath Slabach had seven each.

It was the third straight loss for the War Eagles. Some not-so-fun facts: It was the worst loss since last year’s 89-40 decision at Reagan. It was the most points allowed in 183 games, dating to a 104-50 decision at Tabor in 2008-09.

“There’s a reason why they’re 11-1 and CPC regular-season champions,” Absher told the Journal. “Hats off to them. I give them a lot of credit. They shot the ball extremely well.”

Beating Parkland

A loss at Parkland on Feb. 12 might have forced Davie to win the CPC Tournament to make the state playoffs. With its postseason hopes hanging in the balance, the War Eagles had quite a response: They picked up a convincing 80-68 victory to tie for fourth in the standings.

After Tabor’s 11-1 league mark, there was Reynolds at 10-2, West Forsyth at 9-3, Reagan and Davie at 5-7 and North Davidson and Parkland at 1-11.

This was a solid win because Davie had to overcome an 18-point deficit to win the first meeting 76-67. It also improved to 7-3 following a loss.

“It was a great way to end the regular season,” Absher said. “What a complete team victory. Offensively, we were so efficient. We had good balance again. We changed defenses a ton and our guys were very focussed on what we were trying to do. And it paid off for us because we were able to keep them offbalance.”

Davie ran out to a 20-9 lead behind five points from Starnes and four from Cory Heiner. Parkland cut into the margin in the second, but Davie maintained a 34-29 halftime lead because of Slabach’s seven-point quarter.

Slabach, Dylan Shoffner and Mua combined for 15 points as Davie outscored Parkland in a 47-point third.

In the fourth, Davie led by as many as 16 as Mua delivered six points. “We handled their pressure really well,” Absher said. “We were patient and we made a bunch of free throws.”

Slabach was superb with 22 points. He hit two 3-pointers and 6 of 6 free throws while recording his fourth 20-point game.

“He leads us in scoring, but a lot of people probably don’t recognize he also gets us five rebounds a game and has gotten so much better on defense,” Absher said. “He’s becoming an all-around good player.”

Mua has come alive, scoring 14 to give him 29 in two games. Before the Tabor game, the center was averaging a modest five.

“Boy, L.P. is coming on strong at the end, which is really exciting,” he said. “He’s playing much more aggressive. When he’s getting the ball in the scoring area, he’s being strong and he’s finishing. We tell him to find the rim every time, and he’s running the floor and getting some buckets that way. At this time of year, you have to be able to do that because it’s tough to score in the halfcourt situation a lot of times with people scouting you as much as they do.”

Starnes hit 7 of 9 free throws to finish with 13. Michael Walton canned a pair of 3s to score nine. Jordan McDaniel, Heiner and Shoffner had six each, with Heiner and Shoffner going 12 of 13 from the line. Cooper Wall had four.

Tabor 99, Davie 56 – L.P. Mua 15, Peyton Hampton 9, Nic Starnes 7, Heath Slabach 7, Cooper Wall 5, Dylan Shoffner 3, Jordan McDaniel 3, Michael Walton 3, Cory Heiner 2, Brandon Horton 2.

Davie 80, Parkland 68 – Heath Slabach 22, L.P. Mua 14, Nic Starnes 13, Michael Walton 9, Jordan McDaniel 6, Cory Heiner 6, Dylan Shoffner 6, Cooper Wall 4.