Action packed: JV boys split one-point decisions
Published 6:38 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023
By Brian Pitts
To say the Davie JV boys basketball team played action-packed games last week would be an understatement.
The War Eagles suffered a narrow 45-44 loss at Reynolds on Jan. 17. They rallied in dramatic fashion to beat visiting East Forsyth 48-47 on Jan. 20.
Even though they let Reynolds off the hook, the fourth quarter featured several thrilling moments. In the final seven minutes, there were eight lead changes, two ties and the biggest lead for either side was three.
Ethan Driver’s steal resulted in a layup. Then he banged a 3-pointer to give Davie a 35-33 lead. Isaac Swisher hit a short jumper to put Davie in front 37-34. After Reynolds rallied, Cameron Owens split a pair of free throws, leaving the score tied at 38. Swisher scored inside to force another tie, 40-40. When Owens came through with two free throws. Davie was ahead 42-40 with 67 seconds remaining.
After Reynolds went 1 of 2 at the line, Davie had a 42-41 lead and possession. It was ready to milk the clock, but a bad pass led to a breakaway layup for the Demons, who took a 43-42 lead at :33.
Owens responded with a big play. He beat fullcourt man, drove the left side and banked in a layup to give Davie a 44-43 lead at :20.
Davie fouled a driving Demon at :13. He hit both ends of a one-and-one. Davie was down by one with one last chance.
Davie brought the ball downcourt. Coach Tracey Arnold didn’t like what he saw, so he called timeout with three seconds to go. Adam Brown was the inbounder. Essic set a screen to free No. 1 scorer Elliott Erlandsson, who rolled to the low block near Brown. He took the pass and had a close-range shot, although it was well defended. The shot did not fall. The execution was there, it just wasn’t meant to be as Davie fell to 0-3 in games decided by four points or less.
It was a payback win for the Demons, who lost 55-50 to Davie on Dec. 9. It was the first Davie loss in four games.
Erlandsson led with 13 points. Swisher and Driver had 10 each. Owens had eight and Connor Hood three.
Davie 48, EF 47
Three days later, Davie pulled out an improbable win over East Forsyth, which led 45-38 with 2:15 to play.
Brown drove and converted a nifty layup, but East answered to make it 47-40 with 1:07 left. This is when Davie caught lightning in a bottle.
Brown pulled up for a 3 and got a friendly roll, slicing the deficit to 47-43 at :56.
He only scored three points in the game, but player who deserves a lot of credit for the comeback is Essic, who made two steals in the closing moments. First, he knocked away an inbounds pass that Owens wound up gathering. Owens was fouled and made both free throws to pull Davie within 47-45 at :37. With East inbounding under Davie’s basket, Essic came up with another steal and immediately found Driver at the top of the key. Driver sank the 3 to give Davie a 48-47 lead at :22. Yes, Davie erased the seven-point deficit in a span of 35 seconds.
“Thomas is always making big plays,” Arnold said. “It doesn’t show up in the stat book, but he makes plays. He got some big rebounds, too.”
East had multiple chances in the final seconds, but it missed the front end of a one-and-one and it missed a 3. Hood, another unsung hero, had a rebound and a steal in waning seconds.
“Connor was in there for defense to take the point guard because the point guard was penetrating,” Arnold said. “He’s been coming on the last couple games, giving us energy. He played good at Reynolds. After Elliott moved up (to varsity), I decided to put him in the starting lineup to see how he would do.”
Along with the game-tying FTs, Owens had 17 points and three 3s.
“He has really come on since the Christmas break,” Arnold said. “He’s really starting to find his game. I moved him back to the point guard spot, and he’s been doing a good job of taking care of the ball. Our turnovers haven’t been as high as they were.”
Brown had 14 points, five assists and four steals – not to mention sparking the frantic rally.
“Adam has a nice all-around game,” Arnold said.
Besides hitting the game-winner, Driver had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. Hood had four points and five rebounds. Essic had three points, four steals and three assists. Swisher had two points and four blocks as Davie survived without Erlandsson, who was pulled up to varsity after leading the team with a 13.4 scoring average.
After losing by four to East, by one to Watauga and by one to Reynolds, Davie got over the hump and improved to 11-5 and 5-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. East fell to 12-2 after starting 12-0.
“Ethan hasn’t been shooting it real good – he’s been off and on – but he knocked down a big one (with 22 seconds left),” Arnold said.