Girls match last year’s win total

Published 9:51 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

No one’s throwing the Davie girls basketball team a parade for holding a 3-2 record in nonconference play, but this is a huge start considering last year’s team won three times in 24 tries. To say the War Eagles of Kevin Revels have shown improvement would be a major understatement.

“I told the girls: I hope they’re having as much fun playing as I am coaching right now,” Revels said. “It’s just a blast. We’ve got a group of girls who have bought in to what we’re trying to do. They believe in each other and they trust each other.”

Friday’s 41-33 comeback win over visiting Mooresville mirrored the previous game, a 47-42 rally over Alexander Central.

At AC, Davie dug a 19-7 hole before outscoring the Cougars 40-23. The War Eagles got off to another woeful start against Mooresville. They faced an 11-1 deficit early in the second quarter. They didn’t manage a field goal until the game was nine minutes, 30 seconds old, when Morgan Lewis went backdoor and hit a layup off a feed from Emma Slabach.

“Same thing (as Alexander Central),” Revels said. “We can’t make it go in the basket in the first quarter. I think it’s nervous anxiety. The girls want to do so well. I know Morgan and Emma look at this as personally their team and they want to succeed. I think they rushed some shots. We didn’t get deep into our offense in the first quarter because we’re trying to start fast. We really need to try to reverse that.”

Maybe Revels needs to give the girls water and oranges 10 minutes before tipoff so they think it’s halftime. Because for the second time in a row, the War Eagles were fantastic after digging a deep hole.

They went to the halftime locker room with a spring in their step after London Dirks beat the horn with a 3-pointer. Bella Kite provided the assist as the freshman cut Davie’s halftime deficit to a manageable 17-10.

“London, for a freshman, has no fear,” he said. “She’s willing to put it up anytime.”

If Dirks lit the fuse, Slabach fanned the flames. Getting assists from M. Lewis and Kite, Slabach buried two 3-pointers in three trips to pull Davie within 19-16. On an inbound play under Davie’s basket, M. Lewis lobbed to Kite, who nailed a short jumper to make it 22-20 Mooresville.

“We scored on five lob sets tonight,” Revels said.

Maddie Tellup, who had scored six points through four games, came up huge. On the final possession of the third, she drove hard, drew a blocking foul and scored. The subsequent free throw gave Davie its first lead at 23-22.

“We’ve talked to Maddie about being more aggressive,” he said. “In the first few games, she was passive with the ball. She tended to back away from the basket. She is a lot stronger than she looks. And she’s a senior. We trust her to take the ball to the hoop. That’s her game.”

Mooresville answered with five quick points to retake a 27-23 lead. Revels called timeout. Davie responded with a gutsy 9-0 run.

Slabach converted a floater with her off (left) hand. (“We’ve seen that in practice a few times,” Revels said with a smile.) Tellup battled for an offensive rebound, was fouled going up and made both free throws to tie the score at 27 with 5:04 to go. Slabach drove and kicked it to the corner to M. Lewis, who drained a tiebreaking 3. Tellup capped the 9-0 run, getting a pass from Slabach and scoring inside for a 32-27 lead.

Revels: “Every time (M. Lewis and Slabach) are struggling, I say: ‘I’ve got confidence in you. Keep shooting. Shoot it until it goes in.’ Morgan walked by me and said: ‘I can’t make anything.’ I said: ‘I don’t care. Keep shooting it.’ The next time down she hit that (3-pointer). She has the green light from me anytime.”

Slabach, who followed a 24-point performance at Alexander Central with another spiffy outing, delivered the late haymakers. She was fouled on a 3-point try and made all three free throws. Her 16-footer made Davie’s run 14-4 and provided a 37-31 lead. Slabach went 7-7 from the line in the fourth. Davie hit 9 of 10 in the fourth, with Tellup making 2 of 3.

Slabach finished with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists as Davie shocked a team that had won two straight. (Mooresville slipped to 2-2 after winning 55-34 over Kannapolis and 64-32 over Jay M. Robinson.) M. Lewis, who has scored seven-plus in every game, had eight points and five boards. Tellup also had eight points. Dirks had three. Kite had two points and four boards. Lexie May had one point and four rebounds.

Assistant coach Tim Kenney characterized Revels, who arrived in 2016, as the perfect man for this rebuilding job.

“He is a wonderful teacher of the game,” Kenney said. “In practice, he puts drills together. The girls are thinking they are just doing drills. By the end of practice, he puts two or three drills together and it’s an offense. It’s cool to see because in the last week the girls have been using those drills as an offense and they’ve been effective. You saw a couple backdoors tonight, some give-and-goes, and they haven’t been doing that until the last two games. It’s so much fun to watch. He takes every opportunity to teach the game. Even when things go wrong, he doesn’t lose his cool. He is calm, cool and collected. We’re lucky to have him.”