To the rescue: Lawhon hits game winner

Published 8:54 am Thursday, December 16, 2021

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By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record

Coleman Freaking Lawhon. You have got to be kidding.
What every kid dreams of – counting down the seconds in the driveway (3 … 2 … 1 …) and hitting the game-winning shot – became a reality for the 6-0, 145-pound sophomore for Davie’s varsity boys basketball team in the Central Piedmont Conference opener at Reynolds on Dec. 10.
With Davie down by one and precious few seconds remaining, Lawhon took a pass from Za’Haree Maddox and drilled a 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to give the War Eagles a rousing 61-59 victory.
It capped an eye-popping performance for the reserve guard, who scored 20 team-high points while missing one shot all night. It capped a memorable week for a kid who received his driver’s license on Dec. 8 and silenced the home fans two days later.
“(Coach Bruce Wallace) told me to go to the corner and look for a shot,” Lawhon said. “I was ready. I knew Za’Haree was going to pass it to me. I was like there’s no way he shoots the ball because he was sideways.”
The War Eagles, playing their first game in seven days, improved to 4-1 overall and stopped a five-game losing streak to Reynolds, which denied Davie in overtime in the last meeting on Jan. 29. The Demons (2-5) are a little cursed at the moment, dropping four games by a combined 13 points, including back-to-back setbacks by an aggregate three points.
The War Eagles fell behind 9-3 in the early going, but scored the last six points of the first quarter to tie it. They were actually fortunate to only trail by four (27-23) at halftime after missing nine of 11 3-point shots and shooting 34 percent overall (8-23). By contrast, Reynolds shot 50 percent in the half (11-22).
Wallace said: “I told them at halftime: ‘Keep shooting it. We’re going to make shots eventually and we’re only down 27-23. We’ve had some bad luck. Luck and momentum are going to swing our way eventually.’”
Reynolds held a 37-36 lead late in the third quarter when Davie seized control. After Landon King made a 3, Lawhon hit a putback to close the third. The fourth started with a Lawhon 3. Then Zymere Hudson got a friendly roll on a 3-ball after receiving a nice pass from Blake Walser. Suddenly Davie was up 47-38.
“That putback (by Lawhon) was crazy,” Wallace said. “It was at the end of the third and people gave up. But Coleman just outhustled everyone, got a rebound and put it in. That was an amazing play.”
Lawhon went on a personal 6-2 run by driving the baseline for two, hitting two free throws and scoring inside on a pass from Hudson. When Walser hit one of two at the line, Davie had a comfortable 58-50 lead.
Davie, though, wilted in the closing minutes. The Demons got a three-point play. After Davie missed two free throws, a Demon hit a pull-up 3 to close the gap to 58-56.
Jake Powers inbounded under Reynolds’ basket to Maddox, who made an uncharacteristic play, throwing a pass toward Reynolds’ basket that was intercepted. Davie compounded the mistake by fouling the shooter. The subsequent free throw was good to put Reynolds ahead 59-58 with 11 seconds left.
After having the game all but wrapped up, Davie was on the brink of an agonizing loss.
But Maddox, a third-year starter at point guard, a senior with considerable CPC battle scars, isn’t one to unravel in adversity. He was about to bring the ball upcourt against Reynolds’ 94-foot defense.
He took the inbounds pass and raced up the right side. He knifed into the lane and spotted Lawhon in the left corner. Lawhon took the chest pass and fired without hesitation.
It was as beautiful and joyous as a game-winning play gets.
“I wanted to get a shot as quickly as possible,” Maddox said. “I saw how the defense collapsed and I knew someone was open. It happened to be Coleman.”
Reynolds immediately called timeout with 3.4 seconds on the clock. Walking on air, Lawhon jogged to halfcourt before heading toward the Davie bench. It took him a while to get there because Maddox nearly tackled him.
Lawhon: “I didn’t know what to do. It was an amazing thrill.”
Maddox: “I told Coleman how much I loved him for stepping up in such a big game. That’s a big moment for him, especially with him being a sophomore. Hitting a big shot like that is ridiculous. That’s big-time.”
Lawhon hit 7 of 8 field goals, including all three of his long-range attempts. He added four rebounds in a performance you could not have predicted. He averaged five points across the first four games.
“I drew the play up specifically for them picking us up fullcourt,” Wallace said. “I was scared they were going to play zone. I told Coleman to run to the corner. I thought Za’Haree was going to shoot it. I’ve always told the kids I have confidence in them, and that shows Za’Haree has confidence in them, too.
“Coleman stepped into it. I’ve watched it several times, and he steps into it with confidence. That’s how you’re supposed to shoot the ball. When he stepped into that shot, he thought he was going to make it.”
On the game’s final possession, a running 3 banged harmlessly off the backboard. Davie survived a hard-fought game by shooting 54 percent in the second half (12-22). It converted 6 of 11 triples and got 17 points, five assists and four steals from Maddox.
While it was a routine effort by Maddox, Hudson had another fabulous all-around performance in a breakout season for the late-blooming senior. He scored 15 points on eight shots and added seven rebounds, four blocks and four assists.
“He was all over the place,” Maddox said. “He’s definitely going to be a candidate for defensive player of the year after shutting down their best player (MJ Raye).”
Wallace lavished praise on Hudson, who converted 5 of 8 shots and 3 of 4 3s.
“I would say he’s one of the best guards in the area,” the first-year head coach said. “He guarded their best player. He made a big 3. He got steals. He cuts to the basket. He gets offensive rebounds. He does everything right. He’s a great kid and he’s smart. His basketball IQ is through the roof. He’s like a coach’s dream. He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached in my nine years of coaching.”
Notes: Hudson has scored at least 13 in each game and is averaging a team-high 16.6 points. Maddox, who has cracked double figures every game, is right behind him at 16.4. Lawhon is third at 8. … Walser had five points, King three and Jackson Powers one. … The Davie girls lost 68-45 to Reynolds. The Demons (5-2) ran away with the game after leading by one (15-14) at the end of the first quarter. … Reynolds has won by 25, 42 and 23 during a three-game winning streak. … The Davie girls fell to 1-4.