South Davie girls win with frantic rally

Published 8:58 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

South Davie’s girls basketball team was missing two starters, including its No. 2 scorer. It failed to score a single point in the third quarter. Wesleyan Christian Academy thumped South 40-26 in December and had a nine-point lead on the road on Jan. 20.
Yeah, the Tigers had every reason to be psychologically wounded against the visiting Trojans.
But things changed at crunch time and South walked away with a gritty victory, 24-22.
Overcoming the absence of Emmy Johnson was an accomplishment. She averages 12.8 points. She had a team-high 12 in the 40-26 loss to Wesleyan on Dec. 7. When South beat Wesleyan by eight last season, she had 13 of South’s 31 points. When South lost by two to Wesleyan last season, she had 10 of South’s 29. So Johnson was South’s top scorer in the last three meetings.
“I’m proud of the effort,” coach Brandon Gentry said. “The other girls stepped up with two starters (including America Stockton) absent. The other players really stepped up, especially Londyn McDowell and Harmoni Alston.”
And South was saved by Makenzie Gentry, who scored eight of her team-high 12 during a frantic fourth-quarter rally.
Early on, McDowell hit two baskets to give South a 6-4 lead after the first quarter. South led 11-8 at halftime, but the third was a disaster for the Tigers, who were outscored 12-0.
The 20-11 deficit seemed much larger considering points were at a premium.
But South put the clamps on Wesleyan as Gentry, Alston and Raney Phelps pulled off an improbable comeback. Gentry hit two 3-pointers and a two in a span of three possessions. Alston and Phelps had the other five points in a 13-2 run in the fourth.
“Makenzie brought us back into the game,” the coach said. “They got down on themselves and I called timeout so they could gather their composure. I said: ‘Take a deep breath. Y’all are still in this game. I need you to keep your heads up and play like you did in the first half.’ After that timeout, they did their thing. They played awesome defense. I couldn’t ask for a better defensive game from this team. They didn’t give up and they came out with the win.”
It was late in the game when Alston found herself at the free-throw line with the score 23-22 South. She hit the first and time ran out before Wesleyan could get the ball across halfcourt.
McDowell came through with five points, matching her season high. Alston delivered a season-high five. Phelps had a timely two as South improved to 7-3.
“(McDowell and Alston) played their hearts out,” Gentry said. “We couldn’t have won this game without them.”
South had lost four of five in the series.