South beats North in OT classic
North Davie’s boys basketball team scared the you-know-what out of South Davie in the semifinals of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament on Feb. 4 at South.
The Tigers survived in overtime, 79-75, to advance to the championship game on Feb. 10.
While top-seeded South received a first-round bye, No. 4 North and No. 5 Ellis met in the first round at North on Feb. 3. Ty Miller and North got off to a ferocious start in an eventual 64-45 win over the Jaguars.
Miller had 10 of North’s 18 points in an 18-2 first quarter.
“We came out fired up and played with a lot of energy,” North coach Trevor Gooch said. “We created points from defensive pressure. We also did a great job of getting the ball inside to Ty early in the game.”
Give the Jaguars credit for continuing to fight after the first. They pulled within 26-15 at halftime.
“Hats off to coach (Ted) Boger’s team for knocking down some big 3-point shots to put them back into the game,” Gooch said.
North repelled Ellis’ comeback hopes in the third, when Landon King poured in 12 points and Connor Hood drained two 3-pointers to boost North’s lead to 47-31.
“It was a game of runs,” Gooch said. “Luckily, we picked back up the tempo in the second half to finish strong.”
“We were not ready to play (in the first quarter),” Boger said. “We battled hard the rest of the game. Just a little short.”
King led all scorers with 24 points, one shy of his career high and his fifth 20-point game. Miller had 20, which gave him 40 in two games. Hood had eight, Ian Koontz four, MJ Jacobs three, Jackson Sulecki three and Evan York two.
“Landon was our floor leader,” Gooch said. “Our team wore wristbands to honor No. 24 Kobe Bryant, and magically Landon finished with 24 points.”
Camden Ball was fantastic in defeat, hitting four triples, going 4-4 from the free-throw line and scoring a season-high 20 points. Braddock Coleman had seven, Cooper Bliss five, Ethan Ratledge five, Adam Brown three, Bryden Rodgers three and Ty Matthews two.
Notes: North swept three games from Ellis (3-10). … For the season, the Jaguars’ top three scorers were eighth graders Ball (8.6), Bliss (7.3) and Ratledge (4.5).
South 79, North 75 (OT)
In the semifinals at No. 1 South, North made the Tigers work, it made them sweat and it nearly made them lose. But South prevailed in overtime by a double-take score if there ever was one. From the 1995-96 season through this year, this is the only middle school game involving Davie County in which both teams scored 70 points.
South met Wesleyan Christian Academy, which tied South for first in the regular season, in the finals on Feb. 10.
“This game was an old-fashioned barnburner,” Gooch said. “I was really proud of our kids for playing with a lot of heart and soul versus our biggest rival.”
“That’s just crazy to put up points like that,” South coach Germain Mayfield said of the 154-point shootout.
The Tigers beat North by 12 and 11 in the regular season, and the pattern remained the same through 21 minutes as South led by scores of 18-11, 36-31 and 51-46.
But North rallied in the fourth. Miller, King, Cameron Owens, Koontz and Hood combined for 21 as the Wildcats caught South at 67-67.
“Our kids did a great job of drawing charges,” Gooch said. “We really worked on that on our school wrestling mats.”
“I thought it was a game of missed opportunities,” Mayfield said. “We probably should have won it seven or eight times, and they probably should have won it four or five times. They wouldn’t quit. They just kept coming. Every time we would turn it over or take a bad shot, they took advantage of it.”
Owens, a seventh grader who had totaled nine points in 15 games, played a significant role in the fourth-quarter drama. His basket cut South’s three-point lead to 66-65 with 1.7 seconds left. Following a timeout, South’s inbounds passer threw long. The ball hit the ceiling, a turnover that gave North possession under its basket and set up a wild finish. Gooch called another timeout to draw up a play for Koontz, who dove to the low block and was fouled going up for a shot.
The eighth grader stepped to the line with all zeroes on the clock. When he made the first free throw, his bench erupted as he pumped his fist. His second try was no good.
“Ian was really disappointed, but I reminded him that he gave us a chance in OT,” Gooch said.
South outscored North 12-8 in OT thanks to an unlikely hero in Eli Branham. The eighth grader who averaging 5.8 points delivered five points on two field goals in OT. Coleman Lawhon drained a 3. Cathell Hawks and Robert Jordan also scored to offset Miller’s two field goals, Koontz’s bucket and two free throws from Hood.
Hawks, who came off the bench for the second time after starting the first 13 games, was scorching hot with 29 points and seven 3s. It was nine over his previous scoring high, and it was the fifth time he nailed four or more triples in a game.
“We needed to start getting bench points,” Mayfield said. “I asked him and he was all for it.”
How incredible was the shootout? Seven players – four from South and three from North – put up 15 or more points. Lawhon (20) had his fifth 20-point game, giving him 46 in two games. Jordan and Branham had 15 each. Branham, who buried three 3s and enjoyed a career high in points, provided exactly the kind of offensive boost South needed to reach 13-2.
“We’ve been waiting on Eli since the third week of the season,” Mayfield said. “We’ve been waiting and waiting. He was unreal. He came up so big. And it wasn’t like he was making shots when we were up, you were comfortable and anybody can knock down shots. He made big shots.
“RJ (Jordan) had to have a triple-down (when you include rebounds and assists).”
North (7-9), of course, was spectacular as an underdog. Miller put up 20 for the third game in a row. Koontz had 18, three shy of his season high. King had 15, Hood eight, Owens six, David Patton five and Gavin Reese three.
“Miller and Koontz were our twin towers in the paint,” Gooch said. “King was great at driving to the basket and finding our bigs in the post. Unfortunately, King fouled out in the middle of the fourth quarter. In OT, South hit some big shots and we never recovered. Hats off to coach Mayfield and his team.”
Notes: Landon Waller has started the past two games for South. Although he only averages a point a game, he contributes in other ways. “He’s so long he contests a lot of shots, and he rebounds well,” Mayfield said. “He brings so much energy. We’re a better defensive team with him out there.” … North’s top four scorers were Miller (14.5 ppg), King (14.5), Koontz (11.5) and Hood (7.3). Miller and Koontz are eighth graders, while King and Hood are seventh graders.