Driver, Ellis basketball bounce back for win
Published 8:53 am Thursday, December 16, 2021
By Brian Pitts
The Ellis boys basketball team had no answer for a sharpshooter from visiting North Carolina Leadership Academy, and that was the reason for its first loss in three games, 56-48 on Dec. 7.
“One guy had 27,” coach Ted Boger said. “He didn’t miss all night.”
The Jaguars hung tough. After leading by one at the end of the first quarter, they were behind by three at halftime and after the third. The Falcons held off Ellis by scoring 19 in the fourth.
Daniel York and Mike Morgan handled the coaching duties as Boger missed a second game with an illness.
“NCLA was really good,” Morgan said. “We had a chance at the end. The boys played their butts off. We were really proud of them.”
After scoring 11 points across the first two games, Ethan Driver caught fire, sinking four 3-pointers and scoring 18. Jake Runge had nine, doing all his scoring from beyond the arc. Connor Dixson had six, Brandon Forrest five, Ben Reid four, Braxton Bowling four and George Sakai two.
Ellis was without Brady Vallance, who had 27 over the first two games.
“Brandon is a heck of an athlete who gave us some valuable minutes,” Morgan said of the sixth grader. “Ben played his first game in the post and played well. It was nice to see some of our younger guys step up against some really good competition and hold their own.”
Ellis 55, Summit 30
Runge put on a long-range show and Driver stayed hot as Ellis responded with a dominating road win on Dec. 9.
The Jaguars (3-1) set the tone with a 23-point first quarter. Driver, Reid and Runge had 21 of those points. Driver had six of Ellis’ 10 in the second, when they scored 10 unanswered points to take a 33-13 halftime lead. The margin continued to grow in the third.
Runge made 5 of 11 3-point tries to finish with 17 points. Driver had a do-it-all performance with 16 points, five steals, four assists and four rebounds. Dixson and Reid had seven points each, with Reid hitting 3 of 4 field goals. Bowling, Cade Jones, Sakai and Westen Barefoot had two each.
“We had a great game,” Boger said. “Jake and Ethan had great games. Ethan had a great defensive game. Everyone played hard on defense, and we’re going to need that (this) week as well.”
Wesleyan 39, SD 37
South Davie fell behind by 12 before making a furious rally. Brady Everhardt came off the bench and almost saved the day before South came up just short in High Point on Dec. 7.
The 12-point deficit turned into a two-point lead with 1:45 to go thanks to Everhardt’s three second-half triples. It was a coming-out party for the guard who went scoreless in the first 10 quarters of the season.
“Brady got to play because Jayce (Bentley) got in foul trouble,” coach Germain Mayfield said.
But after clawing back and taking the lead, South collapsed.
“We had four turnovers that led to four points,” Mayfield said. “That wound up being the difference in the game.”
Josiah Spillman had nine points, Bentley seven, Brayden Kistner six, Dallas Simms four and Jayden Warren two.
South’s first loss in three games could be attributed to missing players. Point guard Noah Dulin did not play, and AJ Imes, who had 33 points over the first two games, barely played.
“Not having Noah killed us as far as ball handling,” Mayfield said. “He’s a sixth grader, but he handles it better than anybody we’ve got. AJ hurt his knee, so we didn’t get anything out of him. He might have played six minutes in the first half and then he was done.”
NCLA 55, SD 41
Spillman racked up 25 points despite foul trouble, but it wasn’t nearly enough against visiting North Carolina Leadership Academy on Dec. 8.
Again, South Davie was missing Dulin and Imes.
“We never could get anything going,” Mayfield said. “We should be OK against them next time when we get two starters back.”
Spillman jacked his average from 10.6 to 14.2 in one evening, but South (2-2) trailed 32-16 at halftime and watched the deficit grow in the third.
Warren had five, Kistner four, Simms three, Bentley two and Everhardt two.
“Josiah could have had 40 easy if we don’t have 25 or more turnovers,” Mayfield said. “And he picked up his third foul with five minutes to go in the second quarter. We were down one when he had to come to the bench, and we were down 16 at halftime.”
NCLA 66, ND 40
North Davie remained winless after traveling to North Carolina Leadership Academy on Dec. 9.
The bright spots were Jackson Sulecki, who scored 16 points while draining four 3-pointers, and Isaac Swisher, who pulled down 12 rebounds for the second game in a row.
“We played well in spurts,” coach Trevor Gooch said. “We came out hot in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 46-36.”
Ian Patton had nine points and Swisher five. North (0-4) got two from Edarius Oliver, Wyatt Harwood, Draeton Nance, Ty Greene and Lane Griffin.