Lewis stars in JV win

Published 9:34 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

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By Brian Pitts
Enterprise Record

That leading scorer Nadelie Jones was pulled up to the varsity intensified the spotlight on Kaylee Lewis.
Lewis seized the moment, scoring the most points by a female Davie JV basketball player in five years and leading a 42-33 home win over East Forsyth on Jan. 25.
Jones was averaging 14.1 points, and she had 17 in the first meeting, a 45-25 rout by the War Eagles. She has likely played her last JV game, but it didn’t matter on this day because Lewis lived at the free-throw line and turned in 22 points, or 13 above her average coming in. What’s more, Carleigh Croom picked an opportune time for her coming-out party.
“I told them somebody is going to have to step up and make up for the points that Nadelie was producing,” coach Lamar Russell said. “Lewis stepped up big. I expected Lewis to do the majority of the scoring, and Carleigh really stepped up for us. Because without her points, we don’t win.”
The first three quarters were tight. Davie trailed 8-6 before taking a 14-11 halftime lead. It was 26-22 Davie at the end of the third.
Croom’s corner 3 gave Davie a six-point lead. Lewis passed inside to Kaylee Lynch as Davie took a 30-26 lead.
It was 31-28 when Davie began to gain serious separation. Lynch, Lewis and Croom combined to hit four free throws. Croom rebounded a missed free throw by Davie and passed out to Lewis, who swished a 19-footer to break East’s back at 37-28.
Lewis was amazing at the line, hitting 12 of 15 free throws and scoring the most points by a JV War Eagle since Cayla Hartsell had 22 in a 43-40 win over Reynolds in January of 2017. She is hitting an impressive 73 percent (29-40) from the line for the season.
“That’s ridiculous,” Russell said of Lewis’ 12-of-15 performance. “We have pressure free throws at the end of practice, but she works on her game outside of practice and it’s helping. She was getting double-teamed. They figured out she’s our most consistent ball handler and they pressed up on her and tried to keep her from getting the ball. She still found a way to get the ball. She just attacks. As far as attacking, she is one of the best I’ve seen.”
What nobody could have foreseen was the offensive contributions of Croom, who spent the first nine games in the shadows. She’s scored 18 of her 30 total points in the past two games, including 10 against East.
Croom nailed a pair of triples in the third. With 4:11 to play, she converted a difficult fast-break layup. Tasia Tarpley grabbed a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass to Croom, who pushed the ball downcourt and hit a layup with a defender draped on her. That was the final dagger at 39-30.
“From a girl who has told me before that she can’t dribble to scoring 10 points is big,” Russell said. “I told her on the floor that she is going to have to dribble the ball. On the next play, she dribbles the ball all the way down the floor and makes a layup. She’s quick as lightning and super fast. She just has to get a little more confidence in her dribbling. I hope her getting 10 points, hitting two big 3s and making the fast-break layup builds her confidence up to the point where she can step up and be that second-leading scorer.
“I’m very excited for Carleigh. She came into the season saying I’m a softball player and I know nothing about basketball. She has asked me tons of questions and she’s bought into everything. And man, did she look good against East.”
Lynch had four points and seven rebounds as Davie improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Central Piedmont Conference. Ashley Bledsoe had three points. Callie Wisecarver had three points and seven boards. Tarpley pulled down four boards.
“As a team, we did everything that we needed to do,” he said. “KK (Lynch) did her job rebounding. Tasia did her job playing aggressive defense. Carleigh, Ashley and Riley (Potts) did their job playing hard defense.”