Davie girls on the upswing

Published 9:12 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

The Davie varsity girls basketball team had a blissful week, beating Parkland and Glenn and extending its winning streak to four.
After the past two seasons yielded three victories, after the previous five seasons produced just five Central Piedmont Conference wins, the War Eagles of Lindsey Adams deserve this moment.
“They’re finally learning how to win,” Adams said. “All we work on is defense, defense, defense, defense, defense. Our practice intensity has improved so much, and defense has won us four games in a row. That’s probably not changing anytime soon.”
Davie 67, Parkland 49
This looked like a tossup game. Parkland had beaten Mt. Tabor by four; Davie edged Tabor by five. The Mustangs had just beaten Reagan by one on a buzzer-beater; Reagan beat Davie by 13.
But the rapidly improving War Eagles won convincingly over visiting Parkland on Jan. 12. A stellar performance by Somer Johnson paved the way to the most Davie points in 121 games, the largest CPC win since February of 2017 and the first three-game winning streak since 2015-16.
Johnson matched her three-year varsity high with 21 points. She drilled 7 of 13 field goals, 3 of 5 3-pointers, 4 of 6 free throws and added four rebounds and three assists.
“And Somer’s been battling a back injury,” Adams said. “She goes to the chiropractor about every day. She’s figuring out how to play inside-out. Last year she was complacent on the 3-point line and thought that was her only role. Now she’s using the inside-out game to make her 3s available. She’s starting to penetrate on the baseline and getting comfortable penetrating so girls don’t know how to guard her. She’s reading whatever the defense is giving her.”
Davie trailed 5-3 before scoring 15 of the next 17 points. Five girls – Malayka Rankin, Johnson, Keelyn Oakes, Kenadi Gentry and London Dirks – delivered buckets during the span to give Davie an 18-7 lead.
Davie’s lead was 20-15 before it closed the half with another sizzling run, this one 16-2. Gentry, Johnson, Nadelie Jones and Sydney Dirks had the baskets as Davie raced to a 36-18 halftime lead. S. Dirks took over and scored the final nine Davie points in the half, going 5 of 6 at the free-throw line, scoring on an offensive rebound after a Jones steal and sinking a 19-footer.
In the third quarter, Davie extended the run to 22-3. At 42-18, Parkland was toast.
Johnson’s emphatic offensive effort doesn’t tell the full story. Teamwork and unselfishness produced solid stat lines throughout the lineup.
S. Dirks scored a season-high 11 to go with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Gentry had nine points and nine rebounds. Oakes had a season-high nine points and nine rebounds. L. Dirks had seven points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Rankin had six points, six rebounds and three steals. And Jones, the JV’s top scorer who was moved up to fill the void for two sidelined players (Peyton Spaugh, Rebecca Devericks), had a varsity debut of two points, two steals, one rebound, one assist and one block. Kaylyn Nuckols chipped in two points.
And then there were five charges. Oakes took three and L. Dirks two.
“We had their leading scorer with four fouls at halftime, and their leading rebounder had four fouls at halftime,” Adams said proudly. “The game plan to get those two girls out.”
Notes: Davie’s swarming defense held Parkland (5-8, 1-5 CPC) to 26-percent shooting (19-73). … Davie won by 18 even though it attempted 19 fewer field goals than Parkland. … This was Davie’s largest victory since 48-26 over Kannapolis in January of 2019. … Davie scored its most points since 75-26 over Parkland in January of 2016 when Madison Zaferatos had 24, Morgan Lewis 14, Ashlyn Hampton 11 and Liz Crenshaw 11. … This was the first Davie-Parkland matchup since February of 2017.
Davie 55, Glenn 46
The War Eagles could have melted when Glenn scored 14 unanswered points in the second half. Gentry and Johnson wouldn’t let them. Davie regrouped, kept its poise and pulled off a road win on Jan. 14.
This is the first four-game winning streak since 2014-15.
“We stayed disciplined, didn’t lose our composure and didn’t crumble under pressure,” Adams said. “That says a lot about their growth.”
After leading by four at halftime, Davie shocked Glenn with a 17-2 run in the third quarter. Gentry and Johnson had 15 of the 17, and Davie was cruising at 42-23 with 3:16 remaining in the third, at which point Glenn was shooting a woeful 25 percent (10-39).
But then the Bobcats (6-8, 1-3) suddenly staged a monster turnaround. They scored 14 straight points in a span of 2:14. While Glenn was hitting five straight shots, including four 3-pointers, Davie was missing five consecutive field goals. L. Dirks hit a free throw to stop a Davie dry spell of nearly three minutes, but Glenn answered with a triple to cut Davie’s lead to 43-40 with 6:44 remaining.
“I said: ‘I told you they can shoot. You’ve lost focus of the game plan,’” Adams said. “They’ve never had big leads and now they’re learning how to hold on to them. They’re learning how easy it is for a team to come back if you’re not disciplined. Learning how to win is a process.”
At crunch time, Davie took the game by the throat. A L. Dirks drive ended an 0-for-9 shooting stretch for Davie. Gentry and Johnson had 2-for-2 trips to the line.
The offensive play of the game: Johnson was handling the ball against pressure at midcourt. She slipped but kept her dribble alive. She drove down the right side and made a running hook with 2:43 to go. At 51-44, that was a dagger.
Then came the exclamation mark. Davie was running its delay game. Johnson set a firm screen. Gentry used it to get free and scored on a drive to cap a 12-6 run. At 53-44 with 71 seconds left, it was all but over.
“After they rallied back within three, I’m very proud of the way we responded,” Adams said.
Gentry was the star with a varsity career high of 21 points, four steals and three assists. The sophomore made 7 of 15 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws. Johnson, who made 6 of 6 free throws, had another big game with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“Kenadi attacked the rim a lot,” Adams said. “They couldn’t stop her. She’s starting to finish better around the rim. She’s been practicing attacking the rim and working on different finishes.”
Davie doesn’t win without L. Dirks, who matched her season high with 11 points. She made 5 of 10 shots, snatched six rebounds and drew a charge. Davie also got contributions from Rankin (five points, nine rebounds), Jones (three points) and Oakes (two points, four rebounds, two steals, one charge on defense).
Notes: Davie shot a beautiful 86 percent at the line (19-22). … After the Bobcats went on their 14-0 run, they missed 12 of their next 14 shots. … Davie (5-9 overall) is fifth in the eight-team CPC. East Forsyth is 6-0. Reagan and Reynolds are 4-2. West Forsyth is 3-2, just ahead of 3-3 Davie. … Davie’s top five scorers are Gentry (12.2), Johnson (9.1), L. Dirks (5.2), Spaugh (4.5) and Rankin (4.2).