Williams erupts for boys in Moir semis

Published 10:54 am Thursday, January 9, 2020

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With all eyes on Brooks Johnson and Iverson King, teammate Luke Williams delivered a rousing performance in the third-place game in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba on Dec. 28.

Johnson, the senior leader for Davie’s varsity boys basketball team, had scored 17-plus points in seven straight games. He finally cooled off a bit against East Rowan in the third game in three days. King, the freshman budding star, had 34 points in the first two Moir games, but he was not an offensive factor against East.

The answer in Davie’s 77-68 triumph turned out to be Williams, who came off the bench for 22 stunning points. He couldn’t have been anywhere on East’s scouting report; Davie beat the Mustangs 62-46 on Dec. 13 and Williams only managed three points. Furthermore, the junior was averaging 3.5. He knocked down 14 and 13 points in two games, but he had registered three or less in the other eight.

But Williams shredded East’s zone with four 3-pointers to go with 4-for-4 free-throwing shooting.

“It speaks highly to Luke,” coach Mike Absher said. “He’s a continuous worker in trying to make himself better. It shows that hard work pays off. He shot the ball really well the first game of the year at West Wilkes. Then he had been kind of quiet. Man, when East switched to the zone and we needed somebody to make some shots, he stepped in there and made them.”

Johnson needs supplementary scoring help for Davie to contend in the Central Piedmont Conference over the next six weeks, and Davie also got more scoring oomph from point guard Za’Haree Maddox, who matched Williams with 22. The sophomore showed his ability to create, driving into the paint and drawing a ton of fouls. He sank 14 of 20 free throws and banged a pair of 3s. Before this, Maddox was averaging 10.2 with a high of 18.

“We talk to Za’Haree a lot about penetrating and trying to get in the paint because he’s such a good passer,” Absher said. “He was able to get to the rim. Any time you can shoot 20 free throws, that means you were doing a good job of attacking. Za’Haree and Brooks attacked East in transition, and that led to some free throws.”

The second-seeded War Eagles completed a successful 2-1 Moir experience. Although the Mustangs (2-11) were the eight seed, they weren’t a team to be taken lightly. All they did on opening-round day was knock off top-seeded North Rowan, 62-54.

After Davie assumed a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter, Williams put on a show in the second, scoring 14 of Davie’s 29 points.

Davie’s halftime lead was 11, and the margin was nine after the third. The margin was nine in the fourth before Williams hit two backbreaking 3s to extend the lead to 68-53.

“I really work hard all the time to improve my game,” Williams told the Salisbury Post. “So I know I have to be ready when I get my chance. My teammates found me and I was able to convert.”

“As well as Luke played offensively, he played really, really well on defense, too,” Absher said. “Luke had an opportunity, and he obviously took full advantage of it.”

Johnson (12) had his fewest points in nine games. James Reid had eight, King five, Alex Summers three, Justice Redmon three and Jaydin Spillman two.

The War Eagles walked to the bus with an upbeat 8-3 record.

“Obviously we’d love to have won it again, but to be 2-1 and to play as well as we did, it was a good three days for us,” Absher said. “Life in the CPC is tough every single night, and we’re going to need different guys to pick up the scoring.”

Notes: East kept it closer than it could have been by hitting nine 3s. … Kannapolis, which staved off pesky Davie in the semifinals, squeaked past Salisbury 61-59 in overtime in the championship game. … The Tournament MVP was Kannapolis’ J.D. Glenn. … Johnson represented Davie on the all-tournament team.