Boys’ season ends in first round

Published 10:53 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

Davie’s boys basketball team withstood a right hook right out of the gate in the first round of the 4-A playoffs at Pinecrest on Feb. 20. Davie could not recover from the Patriots’ third-quarter haymaker, however. The result was a 65-55 loss.

“We had a scoring drought in the third quarter, and that made it tough in the fourth quarter because they’re very, very, very patient on offense,” coach Mike Absher said. “They really limited the number of possessions that we had.”

Pinecrest, which tied for second in the Sandhills Conference, improved to 20-7 as the No. 14 seed in the West Region. No. 19 Davie finished 18-9 with its second double-figure loss in a row.

Senior Jamaan Bailey and Pinecrest staggered Davie at the beginning, with Bailey hitting three 3-pointers in the first two minutes to stake the home team to a 9-0 lead. Bailey would only hit one more field goal on his way to 15 points.

“Two of them were well defended,” Absher said. “The third one we got in a mismatch and he shot over Troy (Griggs). The other two, we were right there. He just made some tough shots.”

Absher had to burn a timeout less than two minutes in, but the War Eagles kept their poise and fought back gamely. With Jacob Hendrix and Owen McCormack paving the way, Davie closed the first quarter on a 9-1 run to get within one.

The second quarter was basically a draw as Griggs scored five, Michael Walton went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line and Cooper Wall, Brooks Johnson and Hendrix contributed points to help Davie enter halftime behind 26-24.

“We weathered the storm,” he said. “We battled back to 10-9 and played a real good second quarter. We had the lead briefly (in the second). We felt like we were in good position coming into the second half.”

Even though the Patriots hit seven of their eight 3s in the first half, they were able to put Davie in a 48-38 hole in the third. A 10-point deficit against the deliberate Patriots felt more like a 20-point difference. Their average score through 27 games was 54-45.

Davie climbed within seven in the fourth, but no closer.

“It was frustrating because we did force some turnovers and we just couldn’t convert at the other end,” Absher said. “They did a really good job of shortening the game. When we did get a steal or a stop and we didn’t convert, that was a big momentum switch. It’s like Georgia Tech or Navy – whoever runs the triple option in football. It’s hard to come back. Credit to them. They know how they want to play. They’re very disciplined.”

Wall paced Davie with 12 points. Hendrix had 11, McCormack 10, Walton nine, Griggs seven and Johnson six. It could not blame free-throw shooting; Davie went 15 of 18 from the stripe. Walton converted 7 of 10, Griggs 3 of 3, Wall and McCormack each 2 of 2 and Hendrix 1 of 1.


Pinecrest dropped the curtain on a fine season. The War Eagles beat West Forsyth for the first time in five years. They started 4-0 in league play for the first time in 47 years. They earned the most wins in five years. They enjoyed their best CPC finish (second in the regular season) in six years. In fact, it was just the seventh 18-win season in Davie’s 62-year history. The others: 20-3 in 1969, 18-7 in 1988, 21-6 in 2000, 19-6 in 2011, 23-7 in 2012 and 21-6 in 2013.

Wall joined some pretty fast company by finishing his career with 1,025 points. He’s No. 10 on the all-time scoring list.

“I thought overall it was a great year,” Absher said. “We played hard and competed every night. I really couldn’t be happier. Coop, Mason (Wilson) and Broc (Barnette), as seniors, displayed tremendous leadership. They were a big piece to everything we were able to accomplish.”

Barring injury, Walton will be the next 1,000-point scorer, the junior standing at 823 points. But he will hardly be the only seasoned returner next year. Five of the top six scorers will be back next November.

“I’m super excited (about next year),” Absher said. “As disappointed as you are every year when the season ends, man, we’ve got a lot of guys back. With the JV and freshman teams having successful seasons, I think we can keep it going and hopefully be even more successful.”

Notes: After receiving a first-round bye, third-seeded Olympic (21-4) eliminated Pinecrest 60-42 in the second round. … Walton was the top scorer with a 14.9 average. McCormack averaged 12.6, Wall 11.7 and Hendrix 11.4. Griggs and Johnson both scored 4.5 per game.