Boys lose on buzzer beater

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

After Davie’s varsity boys basketball team strutted past Reynolds, the War Eagles put themselves in position to stun East Forsyth. Burke Rosenbaum went absolutely bonkers in the second half. Elliott Erlandsson, who spent the first 17 games on JV, delivered an out-of-nowhere performance for the ages.

Unfortunately, Davie’s tremendous effort didn’t have a happy ending. After Rosenbaum hit a dramatic, go-ahead 3, East’s Will Gray broke Davie’s heart by converting a layup with two seconds remaining in overtime to hand Davie an epic loss.

“I’m proud of them,” coach Josh Pittman said. “They put their heart on their sleeves and battled to the end.”

Davie 56, Reynolds 39

When Davie and Reynolds met in December, the teams battled inch for inch. There were 17 lead changes – the biggest lead by either team being six – before Davie prevailed 64-58.

But when the War Eagles traveled to Winston-Salem on Jan. 17, they put their feet on the furniture and rolled to stress-free victory.

“We got to measure ourselves to see the level of improvement and things like that since the last time we played them,” Pittman said.

Davie blindsided Reynolds with a blistering start. Hayden Williams, Coleman Lawhon and Jackson Powers buried 3-pointers during a 9-2 burst. Williams hit another 3, then another. Powers’ 3-ball made it 21-10. In the first quarter, Davie went 6 of 11 from the arc. Williams, who didn’t make a field goal against Glenn but lifted Davie to a one-point win by hitting pressure-packed free throws, nailed 3 of 4 triples in the early stages.

“I always tell them to keep shooting if their feet are set and shoot with confidence,” Pittman said. “I told him sometimes it’s going to fall and sometimes it’s not. But you still have to sit down and play defense, and he’s been doing a great job of that, especially the last two games.”

Every time Reynolds got within seven, it was boom – and Davie would pull away. After Reynolds made it 23-16, Lawhon hit a runner off the glass and Powers scored inside. After Reynolds cut it to 27-20, Lawhon hit two free throws and Powers delivered a three-point play. After Reynolds trimmed its deficit to 32-25, Davie went on a 9-0 run. Lawhon drove and finished a layup with the left hand. Williams dove on the floor for a steal and passed to Lawhon, who streaked downcourt for two. Powers hit a 3. When Ethan Ratledge drove and banked it off the glass right before the third-quarter buzzer, Davie was cruising at 43-27.

Constant ball movement illustrated the War Eagles’ minimal egos, and the 1-3-1 trapping defense was extremely problematic for the Demons (5-13, 1-7), who saw their losing streak grow to seven.

“We realize we’re successful when we’re moving the ball and making that extra pass,” Pittman said. “All the guys were engaged (defensively). They were locked in and ready to go.”

The indispensable Powers hit 7 of 10 shots and 3 of 5 3s to finish with 19 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists.

“He went to the post a little more, which is one of the things we’ve been trying to do because it helps relieve ball pressure and it helps us have a different dynamic on offense,” Pittman said.

Lawhon was a tone-setter at the point with 13 points and six assists.

“He set the tone by basically saying you’re not going to press up on me anymore. You’re not going to play physical and I’m not going to back down,” Pittman said.

Williams had nine points, four rebounds and three steals. After missing the Glenn game with a sickness, Ratledge returned with five points and 10 rebounds. Rosenbaum (five rebounds, three assists) and Braddock Coleman had four points each, and CJ Phelps had two as Davie won its third in a row.

“Ethan is a key piece,” Pittman said. “He defends positions 2-5. He always rebounds. He’s starting to get extremely solid with the ball. He doesn’t turn it over much; he makes good decisions.”

EF 59, Davie 58 (OT)

The War Eagles came really, really close to upsetting the defending CPC champion at home on Jan. 20. They just couldn’t negotiate the final five seconds of overtime.

Before one of the largest crowds ever in the six-year-old gym, it was nerve-racking for fans on both sides. Behind Williams and Powers, Davie drilled five 3s in the first quarter as it took a 15-13 lead.

East took control in the second quarter and carved out a 27-17 halftime lead as Davie clanged nine of 10 shots.

“I told them we’ve worked too hard to not play with the energy and effort that’s required to win a game like this,” Pittman said.

Ratledge provided a spark at the start of the third. He scored by rebounding his own miss, and the next time down the court, he assisted a bucket.

“I challenged him at the half to step up his game, because we need him,” Pittman said. “He responded well.”

The third quarter featured an out-of-his-mind performance by Rosenbaum, who drilled four straight 3s to fuel a 29-6 run after missing his only two shot attempts in the first half. All four of the 3s snapped the net, and then he converted a tough inside bank off an inbounds pass from Lawhon. It was an unbelievable outburst from a role player who was averaging four points.

“Burke was lights out,” Pittman said. “He was locked in. I’m proud of him. He played a heck of a game.”

The second half also saw an absolutely unreal emergence from Erlandsson, a sophomore who made a cameo appearance at Reynolds and saw his first extended action on varsity against East as sickness forced Ian Koontz to miss both games last week. After an 0-for-2, scoreless first half, the fearless sophomore hit two 3s, the latter providing Davie’s largest lead, 46-33, with 4:55 remaining in regulation. Later, Ratledge broke the press and hit a cutting-to-the-hole Erlandsson for a layup.

“Elliott played great,” Pittman said. “He stepped up. He was quick with his reads, his reactions and coach Tracey (Arnold) did a heck of a job getting him prepared.”

At 46-33, Davie looked like it was headed to victory, but Gray and East had other ideas. Davie’s lead evaporated as East scored 15 of 17 points. Davie had a 48-46 lead and the ball, but it committed a turnover. Gray, a 6-2 point guard who won CPC Player of the Year in 2022, headed into the fourth with four points. The stud senior would finish with 21, including a drive and game-tying basket at :27.

The War Eagles missed two free throws – their only foul shots of the game – at :11. East put up three shots in the paint, but each rolled off and Rosenbaum corralled the rebound at the regulation horn.

Overtime was a barnburner.

Lawhon drove and made a difficult layup to give Davie a 50-48 lead. But Gray answered to tie it. Rosenbaum penetrated and dished to Erlandsson, who put Davie ahead by two. East quickly tied it at 52. Erlandsson set a screen and Lawhon found an open Powers, who drained a 3 to make it 55-52. But a 3 by Gray, who was a lifesaver for the visitors, on the ensuing possession was nothing but net, and after Davie missed on its end, Gray scored off his own miss to give East a 57-55 lead at :32.

Davie worked the clock down to : 10 before the ball swung to Rosenbaum. The senior let it rip from what felt like the fifth row. While his earlier 3s were as pure as New York snow, this one was long. But his fifth trifecta kissed off the glass and fell through, giving Davie a 58-57 lead at :08. Kids dream of games and shots like this. It would have been one of the shots of the century … except there was still time and East had Gray, who raced the length of the floor. Spinning it off the backboard from the left side with reverse English, Gray finished a driving layup with two seconds left to mute Davie’s celebration.

We’ll never know what would have happened had Powers and Williams not missed significant time in the fourth quarter. Powers had to deal with a bloody nose; Williams took an elbow to the eye and it was nearly swollen shut.

“That was a heck of an effort and a heck of a way to get back in the game,” Pittman said. “I can’t ask for more than that.”

Notes: Rosenbaum went 6 of 11 overall and 5 of 6 from long range in the second half to score 17 team-high points, not to mention four assists. Williams hit four 3s, scored 14 and blocked two shots. Powers, who went 3 of 6 from deep, had another double-double with 13 points, 10 boards and two blocks. Erlandsson, who was the JV’s top scorer at 13.4, went 4 for 4 in the second half to finish with 10 points and two rejections. Lawhon had two points and seven assists. Ratledge had two points, five boards and four assists. … In the second half/OT, Davie was a torrid 16 of 30, including 9 of 14 on 3s. … Pittman was not happy with the foul disparity. “I’m going to always go to bat for my guys,” he said. “In an extremely physical game, for us to have 17 or 18 fouls and only seven on East … that’s a huge difference to me.” … While Davie slipped to 14-5, East improved to 13-4. Since a 93-90 OT loss to North Surry, East has won six straight, including a three-OT win over Reagan on Jan. 17. … The top five in the CPC standings: Mt. Tabor 9-0, Reagan 7-2, East 6-2, West Forsyth 5-3, Davie 4-5. … Davie’s top four scorers for the season: Powers 15.4, Lawhon 13.2, Williams 10.6 and Ratledge 6.8. … One of Pittman’s few complaints with his team was the final play. “We have to pay attention to what coach Will (Tibbs) and I write on that board,” he said. “One of the first things on that board was everything goes through 10 (Gray) and we have to stop the ball in transition. If we don’t listen to it, it will come back to bite us. It came back to bite us in overtime; he was going one on five.”