Reserves show perfect timing for varsity boys

Published 8:56 am Thursday, December 8, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

A 3-0 start in nonconference play for the Davie varsity boys basketball team is not a promise of anything over the next two months. It doesn’t mean the War Eagles are ready to win the Central Piedmont Conference.

But the 3-0 mark is no small thing for a team that has two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.

“I’m proud of them,” coach Josh Pittman said after a 62-59 home win over West Rowan on Nov. 30 that wasn’t decided until the clock hit 0:00. “Nobody expected us to be 3-0 at this point.”

Jackson Powers, who was coming off a 26-point second half against West Wilkes, and Hayden Williams gave Davie an early spark as they banged 3-pointers on the first two trips down the floor as Davie burst to leads of 10-2 and 15-4.

But give credit to Will Givens and a hungry West Rowan team. West responded with a 25-10 run. When Givens hit a 3 as he falling out of bounds, the Falcons had a 29-25 lead.

But Davie regained the momentum because Hayden Williams hit big 3 after big 3. He followed Givens’ off-balance 3 with a triple of his own, and he was just getting started.

Williams, who has gone from deep backup as a junior to deadly bomber as a senior, went on a personal 8-0 run in the third quarter to lift Davie to a 39-34 lead. Two Falcons ran at Coleman Lawhon, the trap leaving Williams open in the left corner. His fifth straight successful shot – all 3s – gave Davie a 49-43 lead.

Williams would finish with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Six of his seven 3-point attempts changed the scoreboard. He also had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“It was team basketball, playing for each other, making the right read and getting it to the guy who is making shots,” Pittman said.

Powers, who had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, had a key spurt when he buried a 3 and then posted up, went up with authority and scored as he was falling down to put Davie ahead 53-49.

“With his size, he has to be able to do both (score inside and outside),” Pittman said of the 6-6 sophomore. “He has to be a post presence and he can always shoot the 3. If he sets up his post game first, everything else is kind of easy for him.”

Although Williams and Powers combined for 62 percent of Davie’s points, three reserves delivered in big moments.

• Braddock Coleman, a sophomore guard, was dribbling on the perimeter with a defender stuck to him like a $39 suit. His father, Jesse “Bubba” Coleman, was a ball-handling whiz for Davie in the early 1990s, and Braddock took a page from his dad with a shake-and-bake move. He drove all the way to the rim and calmly laid it in. His first shot attempt of the game provided 46-38 breathing room and had the crowd oohing and aahing. “Braddock is hard to read, but at the same time, he’s not afraid of the moment,” Pittman said. “He’s still learning. Sometimes the game is fast for him, sometimes it’s slow.”

• Freshman guard Gavin Reese didn’t attempt a field goal all game, but he was fouled with Davie clinging to a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. He stepped to the free-throw line and made both. “They have to stay calm, stay mature and understand their minutes are going to go up and down,” Pittman said of his bench. “But when it’s time for them to play, they have to step up. If they can do that, I think we’ll be decent all year.”

• Coleman and Reese weren’t the only War Eagles who had exquisite timing. Burke Rosenbaum was 0 for 2 when Lawhon drove and kicked the ball to the right corner. Rosenbaum drilled the 3 with :55 remaining to push the lead to 59-51. “Burke has practices where he’s lights out,” Pittman said. “He shoots it every morning and I told him it’s going to come. You just have to keep believing and have as much faith in yourself as we have in him.”

When the War Eagles took care of the ball, they were extremely efficient. They made 9 of 14 3s for the game. In the second half, they shot 50 percent (7-14).

But inexperienced teams don’t always close the deal smoothly. They take lumps. When Givens banked in a 3, West’s heart was still beating.  Davie missed two free throws and Givens (32 points) nailed his eighth triple at :12, cutting the Davie lead to 60-59.

“(Givens) was the first one on the scouting report,” Pittman said. “He’s going to shoot anywhere on the court and he’s going to play scrappy.”

Down one, West (0-3) fouled Lawhon at :07. He walked to the other end on a gimpy ankle. He made both foul shots to provide a 62-59 lead. Yeah, his sophomore year as a backup feels like a long time ago now.

“Coleman ran the show as much as he could,” Pittman said. “He was hurting. We were just trying to get through it and not make excuses.”

West missed a 3 at the buzzer and the Davie Crazies rushed the court to chest bump the jumping-up-and-down War Eagles. Pittman exhaled as the final shot missed.

“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” he said. “So I’ll take it.”

Lawhon had nine points, seven assists and two steals. Landon Waller had four points and five rebounds. Ian Koontz and Rosenbaum had three points each. Reese and Coleman had two points each. Ethan Ratledge, who has a sore ankle of his own, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out two assists.