Boys start cold, still beat Rockingham Co.

Published 9:42 am Friday, November 30, 2018

Davie’s varsity boys basketball team missed 17 of 21 shots, including 8 of 9 3-pointers, in the first quarter of the season opener. Davie also went 1 for 9 from 3-point range in the second quarter.

The saving grace: Davie was playing a lowly opponent that has averaged 4.5 wins over the previous seven years. Even on a night it shot 32 percent for the game, Davie was just better, winning 61-44 over visiting Rockingham County on Nov. 20.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do,” coach Mike Absher said. “We didn’t play our best. We didn’t shoot it well. The good news is we’re 1-0 and didn’t play our best.”

Davie started 0 for 7 from the field before Owen McCormack scored while getting fouled. Davie led 13-5 at the end of the first quarter despite 19-percent shooting. Davie remained cold in the second, yet the halftime lead grew to 34-15.

The War Eagles shot better in the second half (12 for 29), pushing the third-quarter margin to 48-25 and beating the 3-A Cougars in the opener for the second year in a row.

They play home-run basketball. A lot of times Absher will have five shooters on the floor. They never got going, missing 27 of 30 3s. But when they’re on, Davie is going to be very explosive. It’s coming off an 18-9, second-place finish in the conference. Its shooting struggles hardly mattered against the Cougars, who went 5-19 last year and haven’t tasted a winning season in a long time.

“We made the extra pass. That was definitely good to watch,” Absher said. “We shoot a lot of 3s. We’ve made a good percentage the last few years. Tonight we didn’t. I think some of that was we were really jacked up and excited about what’s out there.”

Two coaches from Presbyterian were on hand to watch their recent signee, McCormack. The 6-9, 212-pounder scored 15 team-high points to go with nine rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.

“Those guys played UCLA last night,” Absher said of Presbyterian’s 80-65 road loss. “They took a red eye (flight), got a little sleep and drove two hours and 45 minutes up here today.”

Jacob Hendrix had 12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Michael Walton had 10 points while going 6 for 6 from the line. Brooks Johnson also had 10.

Troy Griggs will rarely lead Davie in scoring, but if the opener is any indication, he will contribute in a big way. He scored four points on five shots. He piled up nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals.

“He rebounded really well for a 5-foot-9 point guard,” Absher said.

The win was punctuated by Ronald Wilson’s crowd-pleasing entrance with 4:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 6-3, 320-pounder is known for his four-year varsity career in football. He has received an offer from Wingate. He played basketball on the freshman team in 2015-16. He did not play hoops the past two years.

He received another warm applause when he scored inside off a feed from McCormack at 3:48, or 17 seconds after he checked in. He scored again at 2:32. The only two War Eagles to shoot 50 percent or better were Wilson (2-3) and Latham Chamberlain (1-2). Wilson had four points, while James Reid and Chamberlain had three each.   

“Somebody called that. They said: ‘Coach, I’m telling you, the first time you put him in, you’ll get a roar,’” Absher said. “And we did. What a good addition to our team. He’s such a good kid. He helps us in practice with a lot of things and he played well tonight. I’m old school. I like kids to play multiple sports. Like I told him, you’re only in high school once, so enjoy it.”

The seniors on the team are Walton, Chamberlain, Griggs, McCormack, Hendrix and Wilson. The juniors are Alex Ratledge, Zach Smith, Noah Bohannon, Johnson, Justice Redmon and Reid. Absher’s assistants are Bruce Wallace, Shane Nixon and Mike Dinkins.