Davie goes cold in showdown at Carson

Published 8:53 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

The showdown between Davie’s varsity boys basketball team and Carson never materialized because Davie’s outside shot never materialized.

On paper, the matchup was a tantalizing one. But visiting Davie missed 17 of 22 3-point tries and Carson dominated 77-61 on Dec. 19.

The Cougars (9-0) continued the best start in school history. They also clinched the top seed in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic. By contrast, there isn’t much from this game that will go on Davie’s season highlight reel. The War Eagles (7-1), who were riding their best start in five years and had throttled every opponent except West Rowan, suffered their first setback since an 89-74 loss to Mt. Tabor in the conference tournament on Feb. 13, 2017.

“Their 3s were falling and the shots that we usually make were not falling tonight,” Davie senior Cooper Wall said. “They were doing everything right.”

Carson jumped to a 14-8 lead before Davie answered with an 8-0 spurt. Michael Walton’s three-point play, Jacob Hendrix’s 3-pointer and Wall’s jumper lifted Davie in front 16-14.

Carson countered with a blistering 17-2 run that all but decided the game. Down 31-18, Davie never truly threatened from that point on. An unlikely source threw in a 3-pointer at the halftime horn to give Carson a 41-27 cushion, and a raucous home crowd reveled in Davie’s disappointment.

Davie shot poorly all night, going 11 of 31 in the first half (35 percent), including 3 for 12 from long range. Meanwhile, the Cougars were shooting lights out.

“When we don’t make shots, we have to be able to adjust,” Davie coach Mike Absher said.

Walton stepped around his defender and nailed a 17-footer as he was fouled. He completed the three-point play at the line to draw Davie within 45-35. But, alas, Carson’s Owen White drained a 3 on the other end to make it 48-35.

Wall converted a pair of free throws to close the gap to 49-39. Davie fired a 3 that would have cut it to seven, but it missed. And then Carson beat Davie down the floor and dunked. Davie missed a 3 that would have shaved the margin to nine and Carson scored inside on its next possession. When White drained his fifth triple, Davie was cooked at 56-39.

Davie (21 of 59) shot 35 percent in both halves. Walton (21 points) flourished in the high-profile game, but he needed a sidekick.

“We were terrible in transition defense,” Absher said. “We were really bad on weak-side defense. They got in the paint way too many times with no help from any of our guys. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Cougars kept Davie at arm’s length by getting 15 or more points from four guys: Jamarius Hairston (22 points), Jailen Williams (20), White (17) and Cole Perry (15).

“It was a big-time game,” Carson coach Brian Perry told the Salisbury Post.

Walton was an efficient 7-of-10 from the floor, and he made 6 of 8 foul shots. He had three assists and two steals to go with his fourth 20-point game. The multidimensional Walton can move the piano and play it too, a block of granite who can operate on the perimeter as effectively as he finishes inside against contact. (He had four and-ones.) He’s proof of offseason dedication paying off in a big way.

Outside of Walton, Davie shot 14 of 49 (28 percent).

“He did a really good job of getting to the rim,” Absher said. “That’s what we have to do when we’re not making perimeter shots. We have to make a conscious effort to get a piece of the paint.

“He’s so much stronger this year. He did a great job with all his stuff in the offseason as far as his strength, agility and trying to get quicker.”

Wall had 15 points and four assists. Hendrix had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Owen McCormack had six points and seven rebounds, getting held to his lowest offensive output in 12 games. Brooks Johnson had three points and four rebounds. Troy Griggs had two points and four boards. Mason Wilson (two points) made his only field-goal attempt.

One of the few bright spots was Davie’s 14-for-17 performance at the line. Although Absher saw several shortcomings, the frenzied battle should prepare Davie for the Central Piedmont Conference.

“That was a good atmosphere and we played a really good team on their home court,” he said. “Some of our guys haven’t quite experienced that kind of environment. It was a good learning experience for us.”