Ellis rocks ND; Imes scores 26 for South

Published 9:02 am Thursday, December 2, 2021

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

With the Ellis boys basketball team placing three players in double figures and North Davie missing Gavin Reese, the season opener at Ellis on Nov. 22 was a complete mismatch.
Ellis steamrolled 46-23.
“It was a good win, (but) a lot of work still needs to be done,” Ellis coach Ted Boger said. “Getting a new group to play together is always a challenge – but it will happen. Getting 15 kids playing time will be our biggest challenge.”
Jake Runge, Ethan Driver, Brady Vallance and Braxton Bowling provided baskets as the Jaguars raced to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter. Bowling had six of Ellis’ nine points in the second as the hosts carried a 22-5 lead to the half.
“Ellis was hot from the perimeter,” North coach Trevor Gooch said. “We must do a better job on defense of closing out and contesting shots.”
Runge (14), Bowling (12) and Vallance (11) were the double-figure scorers for Ellis, which got five from Driver and two each from Westen Barefoot and Connor Dixson.
“Our defense was led by Ethan, Connor and Cade (Jones),” Boger said.
Meanwhile, it was a rough experience for the Wildcats, who were playing without their point guard and two others. Worse yet, they’re not going to get Reese back anytime soon.
“Right now we are missing three players, most notably Gavin, our returning point guard from last year who has an injured leg and is expected to be out 6-8 weeks,” Gooch said. “We are soul searching for a point guard to replace Gavin.”
North’s scorers were Jackson Sulecki (six), Isaac Swisher (four), Will Carter (three), Wyatt Harwood (three), Ty Greene (three), Edarius Oliver (two) and Reynolds Tomlinson (two).
Gooch did take solace in North only getting outscored 24-18 in the second half. “We played much better defense in the second half,” he said. “We were able to knock down some jump shots in the second half as well.”
SD 60, Summit 34
After going 1-7 last season, South Davie seems ready for a substantial jump in 2021-22. The Tigers blasted visiting Summit in the Nov. 22 opener.
The first quarter was competitive, but Josiah Spillman, Jayce Bentley, AJ Imes and Brayden Kistner blew it open in a 21-point second. Spillman had eight of the 21 as South took a 33-17 lead to halftime. South widened the gap in the third.
South has two gifted bigs. One of them, Imes, scored an eye-popping 26.
“He played as a sixth grader, but he didn’t play last year because of COVID,” coach Germain Mayfield said.
The other big man, Spillman, had 12.
“If our guard play is solid, (Imes and Spillman) are going to be hard to stop,” Mayfield said. “Josiah is 6-3 or 6-4 and AJ is about 6-2. And both of them are 200-plus pounds.”
What was most encouraging was the guard play of Noah Dulin, Bentley, Dallas Simms and Kistner. Bentley knocked down three of South’s six 3-pointers. Simms, Kistner and Dulin hit one trey each.
Bentley had nine points, Simms five, Kistner three, Dulin three and Jayden Warren two.
“Our guard play was solid,” Mayfield said. “That was our whole struggle last year. Between Noah, Jayce, Dallas and Brayden, we took care of the ball.”
Notes: North had won six of seven against Ellis coming into this season. … Last season was South’s first losing record in six years.