2 Ot Drama Vs. Statesville Christian

Published 8:54 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

It turned out those Statesville Christian rumors are true. The undefeated Lions are really good. A much-hyped game between Davie and the visitors from Statesville resulted in Davie’s second loss in three days, but it was a riveting, double-overtime game in which there was no psychological loser.

The War Eagles bounced back beautifully from a 16-point loss at Carson in which they shot 35 percent and left a lot to be desired. They kept making plays, kept making shots, with the game on the line. Just not quite enough of them in an 84-74 defeat on Dec. 21.

The Lions improved to 12-0. Davie slipped to 7-2.

“I’ll tell you what, I was very impressed (with Davie),” SC coach J.D. Johnson said. “I scouted them earlier in the year and knew they had a good team. And they played really well tonight. They are very, very well coached. They did some stuff offensively that crossed us up a little bit. They just knocked down shots. I was very impressed with the coaching staff and the kids.”

“That may be the best game we’ve played against such a good, quality opponent,” Davie coach Mike Absher said. “I mean there’s much more positive out of this game than negative – that’s for sure.”

Senior Cooper Wall embellished his credentials by flirting with a triple-double. He piled up 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as he nearly became the first War Eagles to record double figures in three categories since Caleb Martin in 2012-13.

But it was Owen McCormack who got Davie rolling in the first quarter. The 6-8 junior swished four consecutive shots, including two 3-pointers and a long two. When Michael Walton took a pass from Wall and banged a 3, Davie had a 21-13 lead.

The Lions answered with a 16-6 run to grab a 29-27 lead. Davie held a 30-29 halftime lead after Wall found Brooks Johnson for a 3.

The Lions opened the second half with three 3s that translated into an 11-2 burst. Down eight, Davie came storming back. Wall hit a cutting Walton on an inbounds play, and his close-range bucket triggered a spirited 17-2 run. Jacob Hendrix’s driving basket capped the run that produced a 49-42 advantage for the hungry War Eagles.

“It’s nerve-wracking when you’re in the middle of it, but when you look back at it, those are some of the most fun ones,” coach Johnson said. “It’s hard to win and learn. So we’ve got to find a way to take some lessons away from a tough battle.”

McCormack’s two free throws gave Davie a 55-48 edge, but SC ripped off nine of the next 11 points to tie things at 57.

What a fascinating game. Wall was headed out of bounds on the baseline when he zipped a skip pass to Walton, who buried a 3 to put Davie ahead 60-57. SC scored on the next possession. Walton converted two free throws, but SC scored while getting fouled. With two minutes left, Wall threw a backdoor pass to Johnson, who finished inside to give Davie a 64-61 lead. Twenty-two seconds later, SC was nailing a game-tying 3.

The final sequences of regulation were alternately frustrating and invigorating for Davie. Hendrix appeared to get hacked on the arm on a 3-point try, but there was no whistle. Wall got a steal and passed ahead, but Davie missed a contested layup. Walton corralled a defensive rebound at :45, the game still tied at 67. When Davie’s 12-footer missed at :31, SC held for one shot.

SC misfired on a 3. Broc Barnette’s textbook box-out prevented a second shot before the horn.

Although Barnette never attempted a shot, he was a factor through blue-collar deeds, playing vigorous defense, grabbing two big rebounds and blocking a shot with Davie clinging to a one-point lead in the first overtime.

“We felt like all year his role was going to increase,” Absher said. “(At Carson) he rebounded really well and yesterday he practiced well. So we felt like he could probably help us tonight. And man, he did a great job defensively and rebounding-wise. He’s such a tough kid. That was big for him. That’s another bonus from tonight.”

In the first OT, Wall got in the paint and hit an offbalance bank for a 66-65 lead. Then came Barnette’s block. Johnson’s firm box-out earned him a trip to the line, and he converted one for a 67-65 lead. SC hit two clutch free throws to force a tie at 67.

Wall rebounded a missed 3 by Davie, but he couldn’t convert inside, and SC held for the last shot again. Its 3-point try was off and Walton snatched the board to set up the second OT.

“We said: ‘Let’s play harder than them and let’s make sure when it’s done that we can look around and say we left it out there,’” Absher said. “I don’t think we cheated anybody tonight. That was good for us.”

Wall’s driving layup put Davie in front 69-67, but SC’s Scott Harvey, one of three college prospects on the Lion roster, refused to let his team fall. He followed an offensive rebound with a go-ahead 3. On the next trip down, he nailed his seventh 3 of the night. At 73-69, that was the dagger. Davie was out of gas.

SC’s terrific trio – senior Harvey (32 points), junior Marcus Henderson (25) and sophomore Christian Bailey (12) – accounted for 69 points, or 82 percent of the Lions’ total.

“In the second overtime, I feel like they made some big-time shots,” Absher said. “They were just a little bit better at times, so congratulations to them.”

“Bailey is a sophomore, so he has several D-I schools who are interested in him,” Johnson said. “Henderson is a junior and he also has several D-I schools that are interested in him. Harvey has several D-II and III schools interested. This is (Harvey’s) first year with me. He’s always been a talented kid. The strides he has taken – toughness and things like that – have really been fun to watch. I think he’s going to have a great (college) career at whatever school gets him.”

After starting 0 for 4 from the floor, Wall found his groove. He made all five free throws, converted 6 of his last 9 shots and just missed becoming the third War Eagle to achieve a triple-double. Cliff Burns had four between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. Martin had one during the 2012-13 season.

Wall got big help from Walton (19 points) and McCormack (16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, eight rebounds, two assists). It was McCormack’s biggest offensive night in seven games. Hendrix (nine points, two blocks) and Johnson (nine points, five rebounds) played supporting roles. Wood hit 2 of 2 free throws.

Davie shot 44 percent (26 of 59) from the floor and 86 percent from the line (13 of 15). It made 9 of 25 3-pointers.

That Davie took SC to the wire – and then some – could pay off big-time come the Sam Moir Christmas tournament and the conference race in January. Carson and SC are a combined 21-0.

“Somewhere down the road in a tough CPC battle – maybe even (this) week at the Sam Moir – when the game’s on the line and it’s tough, we can relate back to this game and be able to make plays in big games,” Absher said. “I’m really glad we scheduled them. We did some good things. We’ve got to keep working, tweak some things and put it all together. We’ll regroup and get ready for the Moir. They’ve got a goal to win that thing.”

This was Absher’s first double-OT game in his 16 years at Davie. So the last such game came before the 2002-03 season.