South boys outlast Ellis

Published 9:10 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

The South Davie boys basketball team overcame the absence of two players – Jayce Bentley, a starter, and Jayden Warren, the sixth man – and answered every challenge in a 58-51 win at Ellis on Dec. 14.
“Every time they made a run, we made a bucket or made free throws,” South coach Germain Mayfield said. “We probably shot 75 percent from the free-throw line.”
The game marked the return of South point guard Noah Dulin. The Tigers went 0-3 during his absence. It was no coincidence that things ran a lot smoother in Dulin’s first game back.
“He’s not the most skilled, but he understands the game,” Mayfield said of the sixth grader. “Not having him last week, we were lost.”
It was a terrific battle. The first quarter ended with Ellis in front 15-12. While Josiah Spillman had half of South’s points, Ben Reid matched him with six for Ellis.
South dominated the second quarter. AJ Imes and Dallas Simms paced a 13-4 run that catapulted the Tigers to a 25-19 halftime lead.
Reid, Ethan Driver and Brandon Forrest cut into South’s lead as the third ended with the Tigers clinging to a 40-38 lead.
The Tigers protected the lead by scoring 18 in the fourth. Imes led the closing stretch with six, but South got offensive contributions from five others: Simms, Brayden Kistner, Dulin, Brady Everhardt and Spillman.
Imes, who had been slowed/sidelined recently by a knee injury, came through with 16 team-high points. Spillman impressed with 14.
“Spillman is going to be a player if he continues to grow,” Ellis coach Ted Boger said. “There’s a big difference in him from his seventh-grade year to his eighth-grade year.”
Simms had 11, Kistner nine, Dulin six and Everhardt two.
“That was Brayden’s best game since he’s been at South,” Mayfield said of the eighth grader. “Both (Kistner and Simms) made shots early, so their confidence got going.”
Ellis stayed close because of Reid’s coming-out party. After the seventh grader scored 11 across the first four games, he scored 14 without missing a shot, going 6 of 6 from the floor and 3 for 3 from 3-point range.
Jake Runge converted three shots from deep to score 13. Driver had 10. Connor Dixson had five points and eight rebounds. Forrest scored four, Braxton Bowling three and Brady Vallance two.
But Boger bemoaned Ellis’ struggles at the line (5-11) and from the arc (6-24).
“We didn’t play well,” he said. “The big difference in the fourth quarter is they made free throws and we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.”
Notes: South got a measure of payback for 27- and 35-point losses to Ellis last season. … While South improved to 3-3, Ellis dropped to 3-2.