Adams expects massive leap for girls basketball
Published 9:26 am Tuesday, November 23, 2021
By Brian Pitts
Does the Davie varsity girls basketball team stand on the cusp of a major ascent? Second-year coach Lindsey Adams is convinced the answer is yes.
Take a three-game scrimmage on Nov. 13. The War Eagles won by 18 over Bunker Hill, which went 12-1 and reached the third round of the playoffs last season. (“And they only lost one senior,” Adams said.) They won by 21 over Kings Mountain, which finished 10-5 last year and tied for second in its conference. (“And they still have the same team,” she said.)
Davie played with all kinds of energy and enthusiasm and certainty.
“Everybody was able to score,” she said. “We played against two kids that have committed to play in college – one from Bunker Hill and one from Kings Mountain – and we held both to single-digit scoring. We had some tough competition and it shows how much better my girls have gotten.”
In the first scrimmage of the day, the War Eagles did lose by eight to Ashe County. But they overcame a sluggish start and chopped a 15-point deficit to three.
“We couldn’t find our rhythm until late in the game, and we just ran out of time,” Adams said. “Bunker Hill and Kings Mountain were a lot better than Ashe County.”
Last season the War Eagles lifted a black cloud that was over their head, going 3-9 after losing all 25 games the year before.
In Adams’ third game at the helm, Davie stopped a 28-game losing streak with a 53-47 win over South Iredell. Olivia Tatum (13 points, nine steals, six assists, four rebounds) and Keelyn Oakes (12 points on four 3-pointers, three steals, three rebounds, three assists) played starring roles.
In a 51-48 win over Reynolds, the War Eagles put an end to their CPC losing streak, which was 15, and beat the Demons for the first time in 13 years. Davie got key contributions from London Dirks (11 points, five rebounds, three steals), Kenadi Gentry (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals in her second varsity game), Somer Johnson (eight points, two assists) and Tatum (two points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals). Johnson was the hero, scoring all eight of her points during a game-ending 17-8 surge that erased Reynolds’ 40-34 lead.
And after digging a 41-29 hole against Glenn, Davie ripped off a 21-7 run to end a seven-game losing streak to the Bobcats. Tatum (nine points, five rebounds, five assists), Johnson (eight points) and Gentry (five points, five rebounds) lifted the War Eagles. Johnson hit the game’s biggest shot, taking a pass from Tatum and draining a triple to give Davie a 48-45 lead with 47 seconds to go.
After lifting Davie from 0-25 purgatory in her first year, Adams expects her team to make a massive leap in 2021-22. With L. Dirks, Tatum and Kaylyn Nuckols representing fourth-year varsity players and Johnson, Rebecca Devericks, Sydney Dirks and Oakes as third-year varsity players, the War Eagles look ready to fly.
In fact, if Adams closes her eyes and clicks her heels three times, she can envision Davie winning the CPC.
“We could be conference champions, and I mean it because I don’t say stuff like that unless I do,” she said. “The girls are believing it as well. The energy and confidence is there. Last year our goal was to win some games. This year we’re not settling for a few wins. Our goal is to win conference and we’re not going to be satisfied until we do that.”
Tatum, the top returning scorer after averaging 6.2 as a junior, is a guard who can impact the game even when she doesn’t score.
“Obviously she’s very important to our defense, but she’s become more of a threat offensively because she isn’t the only ball handler this year,” Adams said. “She’s able to penetrate and get to the rim.”
After spending five games on JV as a freshman, Gentry was pulled up for the last seven games and averaged 5.7 points as a varsity player.
“Kenadi does more than handle the ball,” she said. “She’s a 3-point shooter.”
Johnson contributed 5.5 points, but she averaged 10 in the last three games.
“Somer has become more consistent as a shooter,” she said. “Her shot has gotten a lot quicker, so she’s able to get more looks at the basket. She’s built her confidence enough that she doesn’t second guess if she should shoot. If you give her a little bit of space, she’s going to shoot it. She knows she has the green light.”
Oakes, who averaged 3.6 points, nailed four 3s in one game and three in another.
“She is more than likely going to be our sixth girl off the bench,” she said. “She plays hard and she’s a leader. She gets a lot of putbacks. She’s a player a lot of people will overlook. She scored eight and six in two (scrimmage games). Those are points we need to be successful.”
L. Dirks is primed for a big season after averaging 2.8 as a junior.
“She’s definitely our biggest leader, and she’s a gritty player,” she said. “We played in a blue chip league this year and she took two or three charges a game. We play five guards a lot of times, and she’s having to battle with the big girls and she’s learned how to take charges. She was pulling down six or seven boards a game just by being physical and using her strength.”
Adams marveled at the defense of sophomore Peyton Spaugh.
“Peyton probably had five or six steals a game (in the scrimmages),” she said. “She is all about defense. She’s the top of our halfcourt press. She’s our best on-ball defender. In one (scrimmage), she had 12 points. She’s a spark added to this year’s team. She’s one of the reasons we have improved so much.”
Adams said of S. Dirks: “She has learned how to anticipate on defense. Although she’s not one of our go-to scorers, she’s able to get the ball where we need it to be to score. She’s been getting steals and a lot of assists.”
On Devericks: “Rebecca is a quick defender. She’s probably going to be at the top of our press when she subs in for Peyton. She’s got quick feet; those soccer skills help. She’s our Energizer Bunny. Our team wouldn’t be as vocal on the bench or on the court without Rebecca. She is constantly cheering and keeping the girls positive. So she plays a valuable role in that aspect.”
Sophomore Malayka Rankin yanked down 13 rebounds in one game as a freshman. Her scrappy play underneath belies her 5-4 frame.
“She’s everywhere,” Adams said. “She doesn’t get tired. She’s going to get loose balls. She’s going to win the 50-50 balls. She boxes out so well. She could easily average 7-8 rebounds a game.”
Nuckols and Gracie Wilson are post players. “We will use them if we need to stop somebody in the paint,” she said.
Notes: Last year West Forsyth and East Forsyth shared the CPC crown at 9-1. Reagan (6-4), Reynolds (3-7), Davie (2-8) and Glenn (1-9) followed. … New CPC members Mt. Tabor and Parkland went 1-6 and 4-8 last year, respectively. … Adams has three seniors (Tatum, L. Dirks and Nuckols), five juniors (Johnson, Wilson, Oakes, S. Dirks and Devericks) and three sophomores (Rankin, Gentry and Spaugh). Adams’ assistant coach is Debbie Evans.