Boys regain edge with two wins

Published 9:36 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

The Davie-Atkins varsity boys basketball game was reminiscent of the War Eagles’ previous game against Reagan – except instead of suffering a heartbreaker at the buzzer, Davie played with tremendous purpose and poise at crunch time and pulled out a 65-61 road win on Dec. 18.
That was a win – and a performance – the War Eagles needed after consecutive narrow losses to East Forsyth and Reagan. The Camels, who beat Parkland by an eye-popping score of 115-84, slipped to 5-3 overall.
“That’s a big win,” coach Bruce Wallace said. “They are just as good as some CPC teams. They have a freshman (Jacari Brim, who went 7 of 7 at the free-throw line and scored 22 points) and a sophomore (Antoine Jones, who went 6-6 at the line and scored 20) who are really good. If they both stay (at Atkins), they have a chance to be a really, really good 3-A team in the next 2-3 years.”
Za’Haree Maddox flirted with something extraordinary while piling up 27 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals. He was two boards from joining a short list of triple-doubles; Cliff Burns, Caleb Martin and Duane Phillips are the only War Eagles in history who have turned the trick.
“He told me on the bus: ‘I had a double-double,’” Wallace said. “He was talking smack to me. That’s awesome. Good for him. He played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play.”
Maddox, who converted 7 of 13 field goals and 10 of 17 foul shots, was one point shy of his three-year varsity high. But it wasn’t a one-man effort. Zymere Hudson, who had three foul-plagued points against Reagan, was a major reason why Davie righted the ship, scoring 17 on 7-of-11 shooting. Tate Carney (seven points, three steals) and Jake Powers (six points, four rebounds, two blocks) contributed in different ways, and Coleman Lawhon hit one of the game’s biggest shots.
It was 39-39 when Davie began a key surge. Jake Powers drove the baseline for two. Hudson finished a fast break with an and-one. And Maddox hit a teardrop at the third-quarter horn to provide a 48-43 lead.
Atkins went on a little run to tie it at 48. Maddox answered with a offbalance floater that fell for a 50-48 lead. The biggest defensive play belonged to Carney, who drew a charge when Atkins had a two-on-one break while holding a 52-50 lead.
“A big difference in the game was Tate,” Wallace said. “He was the X factor. He was really good and Jake rebounded in (Blake Walser’s absence). Jake played the five (at 6-foot-2).”
After missing five straight 3-pointers at one point, Davie went 3 for 3 from deep in the last 3:37. The streak started with a Maddox kick-out to Hudson, who buried it for a 53-52 lead.
“Zymere got his lip busted and he kept playing,” Wallace said. “He went back in and hit a free throw. That shows you how tough he is. He’s not going to have many bad games.”
Maddox nailed a deep 3 to give Davie a 56-53 lead, but Atkins got back within 56-55. That set the stage for Lawhon’s crucial bucket. Maddox penetrated and kicked again, this time finding Lawhon in the right corner. Although he was 0 for 1 from the floor to that point, he couldn’t have timed his first points any better. Davie had a 59-55 lead at 2:51, and Atkins was on the ropes.
“I put Coleman back in the game and once again, he hits a big shot,” Wallace said of the sophomore who beat Reynolds with a buzzer-beating 3 on Dec. 10. “That’s just awesome that he can do that. I’ve been on him hard and he responds. I think he’s going to be a really good player. To hit that 3 was big because he had just turned it over before that.”
Maddox salted it away by hitting 5 of 6 free throws, which resulted in a 65-55 lead. Atkins hit two 3s in the last 10 seconds to close the gap.
Notes: Jackson Powers and Alex Summers had three and two points, respectively. … Davie played without Walser. Though he only averages 4.7 points, the 6-4, 200-pound senior brings experience, steady rebounding and interior defense that Davie needs. … There was a highlight-reel play late in the second quarter. Carney got a steal, saving the ball at midcourt with a pass to Hudson. Hudson hit Maddox, who dished it right back to Hudson for a layup. … During a stretch in the third, Maddox carried Davie by scoring 10 of its 12 points. Maddox assisted the only basket he did not score. … Davie shot an impressive 55 percent (22-40) to Atkins’ 38 percent (19-50).
Davie 61, WR 47
With Walser out for a second game, Wallace asked his 6-5 freshman – Jackson Powers – to neutralize West Rowan’s 6-7 and 6-10 bigs on Dec. 21. He was up to the task as the visiting War Eagles (6-3) pulled away in the second half and clinched the No. 2 seed for the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
Jackson came in averaging 3.3 points. He had an 11-point game, but that was followed by one, two, five and three points. Everything came together for him at West as he scored 11 points, hit a pair of 3s and pulled down seven boards.
“Jackson played really well,” Wallace said. “He hit shots because he was hustling around. We’ve been waiting for him to have a game like that. He was physical tonight. That was a huge game for him.”
It was anybody’s game at halftime, Davie leading 28-27. But the War Eagles took control immediately in the third. Jake Powers found his brother in the corner, and Jackson made the 3. Maddox hit Hudson on a fast break to make it 33-27.
Davie put the hammer on West (3-4) late in the third. Maddox scored on a blow-by. Hudson got a steal and threw upcourt to Maddox, who finished with a layup. After Maddox did his customary steal-and-layup thing, Jackson buried a 15-footer. Hudson hit two from the line and Jake fed Jackson for another 3 to cap a 13-1 run. At 56-38, West was cooked.
“I told the guys: ‘If y’all play defense hard, close out and rebound, they’re not going to make those shots and we’re going to extend the lead,’” Wallace said. “And that’s exactly what we did.”
Davie’s top two scorers – Maddox (19 points, five assists, four steals) and Hudson (13 points, seven rebounds, six assists) – delivered routine lines, and the War Eagles got what they needed from Summers (seven points, four rebounds, two steals), Carney (six points, 10 rebounds) and Jake Powers (five points, five rebounds, four assists).
“That was the best team win we’ve had,” Wallace said.
The rebounding from Carney, Hudson and Jackson was especially important.
“After the Reagan loss, we challenged them because we had a 48 defensive rebound percentage, which is probably the worst I’ve ever heard of in coaching,” Wallace said. “If we rebound, we’re pretty good. When we don’t rebound, we’re not very good.”
Carney’s physicality from football serves him well on the hardwood.
“He brings physicality and he understands what he’s supposed to do,” Wallace said. “He had one that was ridiculous. He broad jumped from the 3-point line to the free-throw line and got a rebound. After the Reagan loss, Tate said I need to be big and rebound for us to be successful. The more he does that, the more he plays and the better we are.”