Reece’s return juices North boys
Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2022
By Brian Pitts
Gavin Reese exploded onto the scene for the North Davie boys basketball team, and the rejuvenated Wildcats beat visiting Ellis 58-40 on Jan. 20.
The Jaguars hammered North 46-23 on Nov. 22, but the rematch was a completely different story.
“A big win for our team,” North coach Trevor Gooch said.
During the Wildcats’ 0-5 start, they were pounded 52-30 on average. But they have found new life, starting with a 57-29 rout of Summit in the previous game way back on Dec. 16, when Edarius Oliver (14 points), Isaac Swisher (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Jackson Sulecki (10 points) powered the breakthrough.
Then, after both team returned to the court following a 34-day layoff, North’s lineup was juiced by the inspirational return of Reese, who missed the first six games with a football injury.
All he did was produce a triple-double and help North post its highest scoring total of the season.
“We are so glad to have Gavin back,” Gooch said after the eighth-grade point guard rolled up 15 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. “Reese really worked hard in rehab to be able to play this season. I’m so happy for him because he really loves the game of basketball. He gives our team a point guard and a floor leader.”
North led 10-6 after the first quarter. It was 26-19 at halftime as Brady Vallance (eight) and Ethan Driver (five) kept Ellis within striking distance.
But Swisher’s nine-point third allowed North to extend the margin to 11, and North (2-5) cruised the rest of the way.
Three eighth graders – Reese, who made three 3-pointers, Swisher (15 points, seven rebounds) and Sulecki (14 points, four 3s) – were just too much for Ellis. Swisher is averaging 12 points across three games.
“Gavin played like the ‘Big O’ Oscar Robertson with a triple-double,” Gooch said. “He makes other players better. He found Isaac with some nice fast-break passes. He also drove inside and kicked out to Jackson for 3-point shots. Isaac had a great game inside the paint, and Jackson was hot from the perimeter.”
Draeton Nance (five), Wyatt Harwood (five), Oliver (two) and Ian Patton (two) also scored for the Wildcats, who watched three players score at least 14 in the same game for the first time in seven seasons.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars (3-4) dropped their third in a row. Driver had 11. Vallance and Braxton Bowling had nine each. Ben Reid had four and Aiden Hall three. Westen Barefoot and Cade Jones had two.
“We only had two practices since Jan. 1,” Ellis coach Ted Boger said. “We were not ready to play and that’s my fault. The boys played hard, but we were missing three boys (Jake Runge, Connor Dixson and Jackson Hepler). North just wanted it more.”
The last time three Wildcats had 14 or more was in a 63-57 double-overtime win over South Davie in 2014-15. In that one, Troy Griggs had 19 and Carson Whisenhunt and Jacob Hendrix had 15 apiece.