9th graders end perfect season
Published 9:04 am Thursday, February 24, 2022
By Brian Pitts
Cameron Owens of Davie’s freshman basketball team averaged 22.6 points over a span of five games. Landon Waller averaged 18.5 over the last four games.
And then there’s David Patton, who created some magic of his own in the final game. The 6-1 Patton came out of nowhere with 20 points as the War Eagles of Mike Dinkins put the finishing touches on a perfect season.
In the second-to-last game on Feb. 9, the War Eagles pounded visiting West Forsyth in predictable fashion, 66-43. Owens (20 points) and Waller (18) were the big guns. Connor Hood (nine), Patton (nine), Elliot Erlandsson (seven) and Logan Vanderweerd (three) helped Davie beat West for the second time in six days.
“Again, we ran 14 or 15 different defenses – some of them several times,” Dinkins said. “And we got a lot of easy transition baskets. The kids play so unselfish.”
No one was more impressive than Waller.
“They just couldn’t stop Waller in the middle,” Dinkins said. “His game has improved so much. He’s now spinning and drop-stepping – something he wasn’t doing at the first of the year. Now he’s ball-faking and driving to the basket.”
Davie 71, Glenn 50
In the season’s final game on Feb. 10, Davie pulled a cruel trick. It allowed the Bobcats to build up some false hope by spotting them a 13-1 lead. Like a big brother snatching a treat from little brother’s hands, Davie stormed back and laid a whooping on the hosts.
“It was the first time we’ve been down,” Dinkins said. “I looked at Cameron (Phillips, the assistant coach) and said: ‘We’re going to see what these boys can do.’ I took a timeout and said: ‘OK, boys, look at the scoreboard. What does it say? I guess we’ve got to do something about that.’”
The War Eagles regrouped in a flash, scoring the last nine points of the first quarter to close the gap to 13-10. Then came an explosion from Patton, who entered with a 4.1 scoring average. His star-level performance saw him score 11 in the second quarter alone.
“We put Patton in and we made a run,” Dinkins said. “David hit a 3 right off the bat. All of a sudden, Patton goes off. I mean, he was going coast to coast and shooting layups. They were trying their fullcourt press and we really broke it down in the second quarter. We put Elliot in the middle. He was catching it, looking opposite and was hitting Patton, Owens or Hood.”
The War Eagles took a 29-27 halftime lead. They extended the margin to 47-37 at the end of the third. They kept pouring it on in the fourth, scoring 24 as Patton finished with 20, which was 11 over his previous high set in the game before against West.
“Noah Shore (who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game) said: ‘Coach, you’ve got to put David back in,’” Dinkins said. “I go: ‘OK, why?’ Noah said: ‘He’s got 18. He has a chance to get 20.’ I said: ‘OK, we’ll put him in until he scores.’ He wasn’t in 20 seconds before he scored.
“I said: ‘If I was giving out game balls, we all know who would get it.’ Patton also had a couple steals (in the second quarter). He gave one of them to Connor and one to Owens. So he not only had 11 points in the quarter, he had at least two assists in that quarter.”
The coach on the floor, Wade Bomar, called the defense that contained Glenn in the third.
“I said: ‘Wade, what do you want to run?’” Dinkins said. “He said: ‘We need to go 12, coach. They couldn’t handle 12 the last time we played them.’ That’s like the fourth time he’s done that, and every time he’s been right on. He’s going to be a coach somewhere.”
Davie’s lead had been reduced to five in the fourth. The moment that returned the momentum to Davie was a technical foul on Glenn’s coach. Adam Brown hit both technical free throws. Then Hood finished a three-point play at the line. The five-point possession put the Bobcats to bed.
Waller had 18 points. Hood had a season-high 17. After scoring at least 19 in six straight games, Owens had a measly 12. Erlandsson and Brown had two points each.
“Cameron’s dribbling skills are something else,” Dinkins said of the point guard. “He broke some opponents down to get easy layups in the fourth quarter. One guy ended up on the floor. He crossed him over, he got tangled up and fell down.
“Connor had his best all-around game.”
Not only did the War Eagles run the table, they made it look easy, outscoring opponents 64-46 on average. Dinkins has been coaching school ball since 1973-74, and this team will hold a special place in his heart forever.
“No other freshman team has gone undefeated,” he said. “This season has been one of my favorites. The kids bought into what we were trying to do.”
Owens (16.6 ppg), Waller (11) and Hood (10.4) averaged double figures. Erlandsson was fourth at 8.6.