Gentry, South girls basketball hold off Ellis
Published 9:14 am Thursday, December 23, 2021
By Brian Pitts
The South Davie girls basketball team’s sixth straight win over Ellis wasn’t so much a triumph of style – like last season when the Tigers beat Ellis by 13, 17 and 22 points and the season before that when they beat the Jaguars by 23 twice – as a victory of the heart.
Emmy Johnson, South’s top scorer, fouled out with 4:33 remaining, taking her game-high 17 points to the bench. Makenzie Gentry picked up the slack and visiting South held on for dear life, 38-34, on Dec. 14.
“It was a nailbiter,” South coach Brandon Gentry said. “I’m super proud of the way we played. We stuck with it and pulled off the win. The team held their composure and played really well to hold them off. I couldn’t ask for much better.”
The first quarter belonged to South as Johnson’s seven points lifted the Tigers to a 12-5 lead.
“South played well and did exactly what we expected,” Ellis coach Susan Jones said. “They come at the ball quick and aggressively, making steals if you don’t meet them head on – and we did not. We started on our heels and played reactionary offense and defense, and this won’t work against a team like them.”
But give Ellis lots of credit for regrouping and making it a fantastic game. Comparing the teams’ scores against common opponents, Ellis was a clear underdog. South only lost to Summit by four on a day when the Tigers were without Gentry; Summit routed Ellis by 30. Ellis lost by 13 to Wesleyan; South handled Wesleyan by 11.
Johnson got six more in the second quarter, but Emmie Burris knocked down a pair of 3s and Bailey Aderhold and Britany Hernandez added offense as the Jaguars pulled within 22-18 by halftime.
Ellis inched closer in the third, 26-24.
“I am very proud of my girls’ efforts,” Jones said. “Although no one likes to lose, I am not upset with how we played, especially in the second half.”
The Tigers surged to a 10-point lead, but that’s about the time Johnson was whistled for her fifth foul. Couple that with Aderhold’s eight-point fourth, and the Jaguars were able to charge back into contention.
With Johnson gone, the Tigers needed Gentry to keep them ahead. She seized the moment with seven fourth-quarter points.
“(Johnson fouling out) put us in a bind, but Makenzie stepped up, took charge and hit a big 3,” coach Gentry said of his daughter.
“Makenzie made two shots in the last minutes to keep us from getting ahead,” Jones said.
It was a ho-hum game for Johnson, who exceeded her 15-point average, and Gentry, who hit her average with 13. America Stockton added seven and Raney Phelps had one. And when Johnson went out in the fourth, Harmoni Alston entered the fray.
“Harmoni stepped up and played some real good defense,” Gentry said. “She filled the gap.”
It was just another day at the office for Aderhold, who scored 14. Burris knocked down three triples to score 11. Kayden Richardson had four, B. Hernandez three and Stella Frye two.
Aderhold is the county’s top scorer, a shade ahead of Johnson, at 15.4.
“Bailey continues to be our catalyst on both ends of the floor,” Jones said. “We depend on her for her composure, leadership and skill. She was probably the most bruised player afterward from getting pummeled as she drove the lanes.”
It was the second time this season that Burris hit at least three triples in a game. Intense defense from Gracyn Coleman and Stella Frye was equally important.
“Emmie was spot on with her 3-pointers,” Jones said. “She also led the defensive drive on their ball handlers with equal help from Gracyn and Stella, who made the second half look like a completely different game. When Gracyn came on the floor, she brought an energy that was contagious, and the rest of the team really got after it from that point forward. She does everything at 100 mph.”
Jones also recognized the efforts of Richardson, B. Hernandez and Kate Nicholson.
“Kayden was a beast on the boards,” she said. “She gets more confident every game offensively, and once she learns to drive to the basket, she will reach a whole new level.
“Kate and Britany did a fabulous job boxing out and keeping South off the boards. Britany really used her quickness to create havoc on the low post.”
South’s third straight win lifted its record to 4-2. This was the second loss in a row for Ellis (3-2).