Relentless defense propels varsity girls to win
Published 9:44 am Thursday, January 13, 2022
By Brian Pitts
The Davie varsity girls basketball team answered every push by Mt. Tabor and grinded its way to its first winning streak since 2018 by playing relentless, fullcourt defense for 32 minutes.
The 53-48 road win on Jan. 4 was really satisfying because the War Eagles had gone 0-7 following a win since their last two-game winning streak in December of 2018.
“We’re showing growth,” coach Lindsey Adams said after Davie improved to 3-9 overall and 1-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference. “I can’t say enough about how much they’re improving, buying in and being patient.”
This was a serious battle from start to finish. The War Eagles led 29-25 at halftime, but they missed their first six shots in the third quarter and Tabor nailed three straight field goals to seize a 32-29 lead. Davie was 0 for 7 from the field in the second half before Peyton Spaugh stopped the drought. London Dirks assisted a Spaugh layup on a fast break as Davie cut Tabor’s lead to 32-31.
The War Eagles missed 15 of 17 field goals in the third but still retained a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth. How did they pull that off? They played defense as if their hair was on fire and they made hay at the free-throw line, hitting 20 of 29 attempts for the game.
“(Playing fullcourt man-to-man defense for 32 minutes) tells you a lot about my girls because that’s hard to do for four quarters when you don’t have a deep bench,” Adams said. “We definitely do conditioning a lot. We’ve been conditioning since September.”
Davie gained some breathing room by scoring six straight points in the fourth. Somer Johnson pump faked from the 3-point arc, attacked and sank a mid-range jumper. Then Spaugh and Kenadi Gentry had 2-for-2 trips to the line to give Davie a 43-36 lead.
The Spartans (2-9, 0-4 CPC) refused to roll over, though. They scored eight unanswered to take a 44-43 lead with 4:12 to go.
But then Davie came up with a 7-0 knockout blow. L. Dirks took a pass from Gentry and scored inside. Johnson followed with the most impressive basket of the game, a bank from the left side as she drove left and faded away. S. Dirks, Johnson and Gentry hit one free throw each to provide a 51-46 lead.
The win was secured when Gentry hit a pair of free throws to cap the scoring in the final seconds.
Davie’s defense, which created an incredible 29 steals, made life miserable for Tabor’s ball handlers. Spaugh had eight steals, Gentry seven, Rankin six and Johnson three. The Dirks sisters had two steals each and Gracie Wilson had one. The defense atoned for 30-percent shooting.
“We had an off night shooting, but we found other ways to score,” Adams said. “Since the loss to Reagan (on Dec. 17), all we have focussed on is boxing out, rebounding and defense.”
Gentry had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists while hitting 6 of 9 fouls shots. S. Dirks had a season-high 10 points. Spaugh had a season-high 10 points, five assists and four rebounds while going 4 for 4 at the line. Johnson had nine points and two assists. Rankin had seven points and eight rebounds. And L. Dirks had four points.
“Sydney stepped up big,” Adams said.
Notes: The Spartans have experienced hard luck while enduring a four-game slide. They’ve lost by four to Parkland and by five to Glenn, West Forsyth and Davie. … Davie overcame 1-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc. … This was the first Davie-Tabor game since February of 2017.