Boys find offense; beat West Forsyth

Published 10:10 am Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Davie’s varsity boys basketball team went cold in the second half and lost by 19 to Reynolds in the Central Piedmont Conference opener.

Davie erased that taste by wiping out an eight-point deficit and beating West Forsyth by 11. The rally was critical for the War Eagles’ hopes of finishing in the top half of the league.

“You didn’t want to be 0-2 with Glenn, who’s really good, rolling in here (this) Friday,” coach Mike Absher said. “That wouldn’t have been a good scenario at all.”

Reynolds 69, Davie 50

In the CPC opener at home on Jan. 7, the War Eagles gave Reynolds headaches on the way to a 27-26 halftime lead.

“That one-point lead could have been seven or eight,” Absher said. “We had some missed opportunities. Yeah, for half the game we stood right in there with them.”

The second half, though, was a complete departure from the first. The Demons (5-7 overall) outscored Davie 24-9 in the third, and that was it.

“There was just a five-minute stretch in the third quarter where we had trouble scoring,” he said. “We had some good shots during that time that we just didn’t make. We really struggled guarding them inside and they took advantage of that.”

Brooks Johnson poured in 17 points, but he didn’t get enough support. Za’Haree Maddox had 11, Luke Williams seven and Zach Smith four. James Reid, Matt James and Iverson King had three each and Avery Taylor two.

“If we would have set the tone in the third, it could have been different,” he said. “But they took it to us. Once we got on our heels, we couldn’t get any consistent offense going.”

Last year Davie won the first two meetings against Reynolds on the way to its first regular-season championship since 1970. Reynolds handed Davie one of its three losses in the CPC Tournament final.

Davie 47, W. Forsyth 36

If there ever was a game of two halves, this was it.

The flameout against Reynolds carried over to the first half against visiting West Forsyth on Jan. 10. Offensively for Davie, the first 16 minutes smelled like a gym sock as it trailed 16-8 at intermission.

The War Eagles put up 39 points in the second half and won with room to spare. Which was, in a word, nuts. A win is a win and Davie is only one game out of first. (Glenn and Reynolds are tied at 2-0; East Forsyth and Davie are next at 1-1.)

“We showed a lot of mental toughness to battle back and win that game,” Absher said.

The Titans missed 13 of 18 shots in the first half, yet they led 16-8 because Davie was a miserable 3 for 21, including 0 for 11 from 3-point territory. Three of the misses from downtown were air balls.

“Thank goodness we guarded at a very high level in the first half because that eight-point deficit could have very easily been double figures,” he said. “Despite missing all those shots, we still found it in ourselves to defend them.”

The War Eagles did a 180 turn after halftime. They drilled 12 of 27 field goals, nailed 3 of 5 3s and outscored West by 19.

They took over when West held a 27-24 lead. Maddox got a steal in the backcourt and scored. King passed to Reid, who drained a go-ahead 3 with six minutes left. Before that big shot, Reid was 0 for 3 on 3s and Davie was 0 for 12 from distance.

Reid caused a turnover. King gathered the ball and went all the way down the court for two. Justice Redmon picked the perfect time for his only points of the game, hitting a 3 on his first long-range attempt of the night to provide a 36-31 lead. Then Maddox found King for a 3. Johnson got a steal at halfcourt and drove down for two. It was 41-36 before Maddox and Johnson salted it away. Maddox scored on a drive, and then Maddox and Johnson hit two free throws each to cap a 23-9 run.

While the offense did an about-face, all game Davie put forth the exact defensive effort that Absher was asking for. “The defensive pressure definitely changed the game,” he said.

King delivered the best shooting percentage, going 5 of 10 for 13 points and adding three rebounds and two steals.

Maddox’s penetration keyed an 11-point effort that included 7-of-10 foul shooting. After missing his first six shots, he hit his last two at crunch time and also collected four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Reid had nine points and three blocks. Although Johnson had a season-low seven points, 10 below his team-high average, his defense was vitally important. He had six steals and two blocks. Smith contributed four points, four boards and two blocks.

“That’s the thing you have to love about (Johnson),” Absher said. “It was not one of his better offensive nights, but he still found a way to contribute to the team. Those steals were huge.”

Notes: Davie pushed its record to 10-4. … Davie is 4-0 following a loss; it hasn’t dropped consecutive games since the 2017-18 season. … Davie has a six-game winning streak against West. … Although West is 1-14, it only lost by four to East Forsyth (41-37). … The Titans were 5 of 23 from the floor before hitting eight of their last 12 shots.