Boys lose first game to NW Guilford

Published 10:13 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

Davie’s varsity boys basketball team saw its perfect record fall at Northwest Guilford on Friday, but other than the final score (59-46) and cold shooting from normally reliable scorers, the showdown against one of the top 4-A teams in the state yielded what coach Mike Absher had hoped.

“It was anybody’s game with three minutes to play,” he said. “Our guys really competed. They played with some confidence and passion, and played like they deserved to be in a big-time game like that.”


Davie weathered a furious North Davidson rally and held on 60-58 in Welcome on Jan. 2.

This was the first truly close game of the season. During a 9-0 start, the War Eagles won by an average of 19.1 points with the closest margin being five. The other eight wins were by 12-plus points.

This one started out like another blowout. Davie was terrific in the first quarter while carving out a 19-5 lead.

“We obviously played really, really well early,” Absher said. “Offensively, we were really flowing.”

But North (4-3) got rolling in the second, its 22-point quarter chopping Davie’s halftime lead to 29-27. In a game of runs, Davie regained control with an 18-point third, and it carried a 47-36 lead to the fourth. But back came North. It pumped in 22 points in the final eight minutes to give Davie a scare.

“We really started playing well again (in the third),” he said. But in the fourth “we missed a layup. We had some bad possessions, and all of a sudden we let them back in the game.”

Themus Fulks, a familiar foe, carried the Black Knights with 25 points, including 10 in the fourth. He was the only Knight in double figures.

“We had trouble guarding him,” Absher said. “He had 31 here last year.”

“We weren’t used to their physicality and how well-coached they were,” Fulks told The Dispatch. “We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but … we are going to push hard to win the conference.”

North rallied to a 53-51 lead with four minutes left and Fulks’ 3-pointer tied it at 56 with a minute to go. Michael Walton saved Davie’s bacon, driving and converting a three-point play for a 59-56 lead. He added a defensive gem at the end.

“Walton’s three-point play was huge,” Absher said. “It was a gutsy drive to the basket. We just spread the floor and were in our basic pass-and-cut stuff. We finally got a breakdown (by North) and Michael drove, hit a tough shot and got fouled.”

Jacob Hendrix was called for a foul and North hit both free throws to make it 59-58. Troy Griggs went to the line at 8.7 seconds and split a pair for the 60-58 lead.

“Fulks got the rebound and you know where he’s going,” Absher said.

Fulks attacked the paint in an attempt to force overtime, but Walton, Griggs and Owen McCormack teamed up for a game-saving stop.

“He went the length of the court,” Absher said. “Troy influenced him down the left side. Michael had great position and forced a tough shot. They get the rebound and shoot, but Owen blocks it.”

Walton, who enjoyed seven 20-point games as a junior, finished with a season-high 20. McCormack, who is averaging 19.2 during a four-game stretch, remained hot with 19 and three 3s. Brooks Johnson and Hendrix had seven points each. Griggs had five and Justice Redmon two.

The War Eagles, who had dropped three of four in the series, avenged a 62-60 loss at North last year.

“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” Absher said. “It was nice to get challenged coming down the stretch and have to step up and make some free throws.”


Davie’s first loss since the first round of the 2018 playoffs was no disgrace. Northwest Guilford is 10-2 with losses to Summerville (S.C.) and Southern Durham.

“I think they definitely have a chance to make a really good run in the state tournament,” Absher said after the 13-point loss on Jan. 4. “We scheduled them on purpose. We knew they were going to be really, really good. They beat Greensboro Day (68-67 in overtime) to win a big-time Christmas tournament in Greensboro. I mean they’re legit.”

The Vikings feature junior Dean Reiber, a Division-I prospect who scored a game-high 21. “He’s a post player who has multiple Division-I offers,” Absher said. “Boston College was there to watch him play.”

Another talented junior, guard Christian Hampton, had 18 points with four 3s. Reiber and Hampton were the only Vikings with more than seven points. “(Hampton’s) really good,” he said. “They’ve got two perimeter guys who are really good.”

With Hampton and Reiber scoring 10 each, NWG raced out to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter. Things were much different in the second. With Walton, Griggs, McCormack, Zach Smith, Redmon and Hendrix delivering points, Davie ripped off a 16-4 run to force a 24-24 tie at the half. Smith’s layup at the buzzer tied it.

Davie kept it within arms distance until the final minutes. Griggs and McCormack combined for 14 in the third, when Davie surged ahead by six but watched Northwest hit a 3 at the buzzer to go in front 40-38. It was a four-point game late in the fourth. Shots that normally fall just wouldn’t go down for the War Eagles, who slipped to 10-1.

“We would have liked to made a few more shots, but that’s OK,” Absher said. “We played really well. We got really good shots; that was encouraging. I mean we were able to run our stuff. We just didn’t make shots like we’d been making.”

Griggs had another good game in a senior season in which he has been invaluable. He went 6 for 6 from the foul line to score a varsity career high of 14. He had 12 in a game last season and hit the 12 mark three times earlier this season.

McCormack sank three of Davie’s four 3s to score 12. Walton had 10 and Hendrix four. Smith, Johnson and Redmon had two each.

“Troy did a great job of finishing at the basket,” Absher said. “When he gets in the paint he uses his body well to shield off defenders. He did a good job of running the offense. When we needed to slow down, we slowed down. Defensively, he had some tough assignments.”