Driver, Erlandsson stand out for Davie JV boys

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, December 28, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie JV boys basketball team began the season setting the world on fire. Then it suffered through a rough patch. Then it got back on track before the holidays.

But before thumping Central Davidson and Starmount, Watauga injected more misery into the War Eagles, who lost 45-44 in Boone on Dec. 17.

In a sense, the War Eagles pulled defeat from the jaws of victory by outscoring Watauga in three of four quarters but falling short anyway. The quarter that went Watauga’s way was the third, when the Pioneers outscored Davie 20-12 to take a 33-31 lead. After hitting one 3-pointer in the first half, the Pioneers knocked down five in the second half and improved to 7-3.

Meanwhile, a Davie team that has scored 80, 82 and 90 points this season was held to a season low and suffered its third straight loss – by a total of 17 points.

Davie’s scoring came from Ethan Driver (11), Cameron Owens (nine), Adam Brown (seven), Connor Hood (five), Elliott Erlandsson (four), Thomas Essic (three), David Patton (two), Wade Bomar (two) and Logan Vandeweerd (one).

Despite the downward spiral against East Forsyth, Reagan  and Watauga, varsity coach Josh Pittman’s faith did not waver.

“They should have probably won (at Watauga),” he said. “It just didn’t go their way. If you give a team confidence, it makes the game 10 times harder. On the whole, they’re doing well. They’re competing, they’re playing hard and they’re trying to share the ball and play the right way. I’m convinced they’re going to continue to improve and get better.”

The Pioneers felt right at home during the tight fourth quarter. For the sixth time in 10 games, they played a game decided by four points or less. They’ve been victorious in four of them.

Davie 66, CD 45

After losing three games in five days, the War Eagles took out their frustrations on Central Davidson in Lexington on Dec. 20.

The performance of Driver was the story. Davie busted the game wide open with a 21-8 run in the third, and Driver was responsible for 14 of the points as Davie extended a 30-20 lead to 51-28.

Driver finished with 23 points by shooting a torrid 8 of 11, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He matched the season high for points by a War Eagle (Brown has hit 23 twice) and he added six rebounds.

“He’s starting to take the ball to the basket a lot more,” coach Tracey Arnold said of the freshman. “Early in the year he was falling in love with his 3-point shot. But now he’s starting to drive and score more around the basket. He’s starting to figure it out. He’s one of my stronger players. He gets on the boards and plays solid defense.”

Owens (15 points, three steals), Erlandsson (seven points, 11 rebounds), Brown (five points, eight assists, three steals, three blocks) and Isaac Swisher (four points, six rebounds, two blocks) contributed in a variety of ways as Davie throttled a team that came in with a 6-1 record. Also scoring were Jackson Sulecki (three), Bomar (two), George Sakai (two), Essic (two), Patton (two) and Vandeweerd (one).

Davie 76, Starmount 35

Erlandsson starred in the wipeout over the visiting Rams on Dec. 21. He scored 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, he controlled nine rebounds and blocked two shots as Davie (7-3 overall) rang up its fifth win by 40-plus points.

It was the most points by a JV War Eagle since Ian Koontz’s 27 in a 67-35 win over Parkland last February, and Arnold doesn’t think the sophomore  has even scratched the surface of his potential.

“That was his best game of the year,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get him to play inside more. He’s such a good shooter that he wants to rely on his outside shot. But he’s 6-4 and he’s got bounce. If he gets in the paint, he’ll have more 20-point nights.”

One time when Davie missed a shot, Erlandsson – get this – came flying in and dunked the rebound with his left hand. How many times are you going to see that in a JV game?

“During the summer, he kept trying and trying (to dunk),” Arnold said. “He wasn’t quite there. At the beginning of basketball season, he got a little dunk. Now he’s gotten to where he can dunk it with two hands. So his springs have picked up. He’s lost some weight. I think he’s starting to grow into his body.”

Davie got 10 points and seven assists from Owens, nine points from Driver and seven points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals from Brown. The other points came from Essic (six), Sulecki (five), Hood (four), Bomar (three), Vandeweerd (three), Swisher (two), Brady Vallance (two) and Sakai (one).