Boys hold on – barely

Published 9:56 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

This was going to be a Davie rout, Mason Wilson’s three-point play putting Davie’s boys basketball team ahead by 16 in the second quarter over last-place Glenn. And then it wasn’t.

The War Eagles lost their edge, and the next thing anyone knew, Glenn was breathing down their neck in the first round of the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament at Davie on Feb. 12.

Although it was too close for comfort, third-seeded Davie held on 63-60 over the No. 6 Bobcats.

Davie improved to 18-7 while picking up its third win in a row. After belting Glenn 67-38 and 65-54 (Davie actually cruised in that one as Glenn did cosmetic work in the fourth quarter) in the regular season, the War Eagles barely avoided a major whiff against a team that finished with one win in 25 tries. Glenn’s only win was 69-50 over Atkins on Dec. 15.

The pesky Bobcats also gave West Forsyth a scare three days earlier, the Titans escaping 64-61 in overtime.

“As much as I hate to admit it, I think there is something to be said about (the challenge) of beating somebody three times,” coach Mike Absher said. “Also credit to them. They are a different team than they were on Jan. 12. Coaching-wise, they’ve done a great job. I mean they had West Forsyth beat Friday night. A (West) kid made a 3 at the buzzer to send it into overtime, and then West made a 3 to beat them. Glenn was right there. They did everything but win the game.”

Cooper Wall checked in at the 4:51 mark of the first quarter and wasted little time making an impact. He scored seven straight Davie points – while making 3 of 3 shots – to boost Davie’s lead to 21-8.

When Wilson cut to the basket, received a pass from Elijah Wood and completed the old-fashioned three-point play at the line, everything seemed cool for the War Eagles. They were in control at 24-8, they were shooting 52 percent (9 of 17), Glenn had missed 8 of 11 field goals, and Davie could barely see Glenn in the rearview mirror.

“We played really well early on both ends,” Absher said. “We were moving the ball, making shots and we were good in transition. Defensively, we were pretty much locked in. Yeah, things were going really well.”

But the Bobcats refused to give in and responded with a 29-11 run that vaulted them to a 37-35 lead early in the third quarter. After Wilson’s bucket, they closed the first half by making 8 of 11 shots, including four 3-pointers.

“The next thing you know it’s a one-point game (at halftime),” Absher said. “We were complacent on defense. We stopped guarding with any sense of urgency.”

The War Eagles put Glenn against the ropes again with a 17-5 run. Wall scored the last seven Davie points in the third, and the home team was up 52-42.

When Michael Walton hit two free throws, Davie had a 58-51 lead with 2:21 to play. Glenn missed twice in one possession and Owen McCormack rebounded. Davie looked to be in good shape as it burned significant clock. But then came a whistle: Davie was guilty of an illegal screen at 1:21.

Instead of an uneventful finish, Davie wound up with a shaky win. Glenn hit a 3 at 1:08. McCormack answered with a 3 at :57. At 61-54, that should have been the dagger. It wasn’t. Glenn hit a deep 3 at :43, and Davie committed a turnover in the backcourt. Glenn hit its third triple in a span of 34 seconds with 34 seconds remaining. Adding to Davie’s anxiety, it threw the ball away at :22.

Following a timeout, the Bobcats, down 61-60, had the ball at halfcourt. They inbounded in the front court and then made a pass to a trailing guard that resulted in a backcourt violation at :16.

“Unbelievable,” Absher said. “We weren’t even pressuring them. We were just lucky to be honest.”

Davie inbounded to Griggs, who was fouled and faced a one-and-one situation at :14. He was 0 for 1 from the line for the game. Griggs came through in the clutch, making both for a 63-60 lead.

Glenn brought the ball up and made five passes before taking a 3 from the top of the key. Wall rebounded the miss as the horn sounded.

“Two kids had the ball with what I thought were decent looks, but they both passed it up,” Absher said.

McCormack and Jacob Hendrix made Davie’s only two field goals in the fourth. It was saved by 6-for-8 foul shooting.

Wall shook off a three-game scoring slump with 17 points – his most in 15 games. He made 7 of 12 shots and walked off the floor with 999 career points. He also had three assists, three steals and three rebounds.

McCormack converted 5 of 7 shots for 15 points, and he added five boards. Walton had 13 points. Hendrix had eight points and five boards. Griggs had four points. Wilson and Brooks Johnson had three points each.

Both teams made nine 3s, but Davie shot considerably better from distance (52 percent compared to Glenn’s 34). Walton, Wall, McCormack and Hendrix made two each, while Johnson hit one.