Girls pull off two upset wins

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie varsity girls basketball team did something quite astonishing last week.

Before we get to the monumental week, let’s rewind to Dec. 9. On that night, Davie trailed Reynolds the whole game and lost 55-47. Four days later, the War Eagles lost 48-36 to East Forsyth. That made Davie 0-12 against East dating to when East joined the Central Piedmont Conference in 2017-18. Not only was Davie 0-12 in the series, the losses were by 38, 27, 20, 21, 25, 53, 46, 20, 44, 30, 50 and 12 points.

Now let’s look at how the rematches unfolded. (You better sit down now.) Davie destroyed Reynolds 58-22 in Winston-Salem on Jan. 17. Three days later, the War Eagles stunned East 49-38. Both teams were in first place when they met Davie.

After that loss at East on Dec. 13, the War Eagles were 2-5 overall, 0-2 in the CPC and mired in a four-game losing streak. Since then, they are 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the league for the finest 12-game stretch in eight years. Talk about a feel-good story, they are 12-7 overall after winning 12 games the past three seasons combined.

How the heck did they do that?

“We have shirts that say ‘Culture Wins,’” coach Lindsey Adams said. “We’ve bought into the culture we’ve been building for three years. We’re not like Forsyth County where you can transfer and come and go. You have to build and we’re finally building this program. We play year-round together and we’re finally getting results from it.”

Davie 58, Reynolds 22

The Demons were 13-4 and tied with East Forsyth for first. No one in the CPC had more wins than Reynolds, which had notched a nine-point win over East. Reynolds had also beaten Parkland by eight, the same Parkland that beat Davie by 27.

But not only did the War Eagles knock off the Demons, they blew them out of the gym. In fact, the Demons, who were averaging 49.7 points, were outscored by one Davie player – Kenadi Gentry.

“I’ve seen it in spurts, but they’ve never put it together from start to finish in a big game like this,” Adams said. “We’ve seen it when we’ve played people we should beat. I was very, very happy with how we played from top to bottom.”

What a night for Gentry, who exploded for the most points by a War Eagle in 131 games. The junior point guard scored 28 on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4 of 8 from the 3-point arc. She converted 4 of 5 free throws, made five steals and bumped her average to 20.5 across four games.

One time Gentry intercepted a pass, switched to the left hand when she got to the basket and scored as she was fouled. Later, she dribbled between the legs before hitting a step-back 3. She popped six straight shots during one stretch, four of which were 3s. It was the most points since Sha’veh Martinez had 31 in a 64-56 loss at North Davidson in January of 2017.

“Yeah, she had 28 points, but what people may not realize is she’s leading our team in assists,” Adams said. “That’s something I’ve talked to her a lot about because college coaches that speak to me are looking for a point guard, not a shooting guard. I think because she’s able to create so much for others that sometimes they’re helping off of her.”

Davie had a six-point possession in the third quarter. When a Gentry 3 fell through the hoop, a foul was called on Reynolds and Davie retained possession. Then Peyton Spaugh banged a 3 to push the margin to 34-10. There was one stretch where Davie hit 11 of 13 shots. It was magnificent.

While Davie couldn’t miss, Reynolds had a miserable time against Davie’s 2-1-2 zone.

“We played the same defense (as the first meeting), but I was able to watch film and see where we did not execute and we adjusted that defense,” Adams said. “We never had to come out of it because they just couldn’t score.”

Spaugh (11 points, five rebounds, three steals) and Somer Johnson (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists) were major factors as Davie stopped a three-game losing streak in the series.

“In practice we put an emphasis on offensive boards, and in the first quarter the offensive boards were huge. And Somer really dialed into that,” Adams said.

Malayka Rankin had five points, four rebounds and three assists. Lauren Colamarino had two points, six boards and two assists. Keelyn Oakes had two points.

“(This) showed how much growth our girls have made,” Adams said. “We’re playing with confidence and playing together.”

Davie 49, EF 38

The upstart War Eagles needed to be at their absolute best against first-place East Forsyth here Friday – and they were. The 27-9 first-half lead was magic. East came roaring back in the second half, but Davie weathered the storm and completed an epic week.

“It’s really hard to knock off the No. 1 team twice in the same week, let along with the margins that we did,” Adams said. “To turn around and do it again shows confidence, how much the team is buying into the program, trusting the game plan and executing it even when East started fighting back.”

During a 16-4 run in the first half, Gentry hit a 3, scored on a steal/layup and converted a dribble-between-the-legs, step-back jumper. Rankin attacked the lane and scored as she was fouled. Johnson banged a triple, sank a pull-up jumper and then spun in the lane and hit a running hook. Spaugh snatched a defensive rebound and took it all the way down the court for two.

Davie shot 45 percent in the first half, resulting in a 29-16 lead.

But East came out breathing fire in the third quarter. Senior Tovia Rooks scored eight points in a hurry during an 18-4 run that chopped Davie’s lead to 31-27.

Davie answered with an 8-2 spurt. Sydney Dirks hit an 18-footer, Johnson popped a 3 and Gentry got a steal and finished at the other end as Davie took a 39-29 lead. But then Rooks hit back-to-back 3s, giving her six triples for the game, to slice Davie’s lead to 39-35. That sequence drew the ire of Adams, who called timeout with Davie up 41-35.

“I said we’re going to pack the paint, but if somebody starts hitting 3s, you need to get out on them,” she said. “So, yeah, I was a little disappointed in that. But they rallied.”

Out of the timeout, Davie responded with a gorgeous play. Johnson, inbounding from in front of Davie’s bench, threw to Rankin, who quickly found Spaugh. Spaugh’s touch pass led to a Colamarino layup.

“That play was actually a bust,” Adams said. “It didn’t work; they cheated on the play. But the ball movement shows how confidence we are.”

East’s Trinity Hairston hit her only 3 of the night to make it 43-38 with :56 left, but Gentry, Rankin and Spaugh put the game away at the free-throw line. Davie missed 15 of 20 field goals in the second half, but it compensated by sinking 8 of 12 foul shots in the fourth.

Gentry, who made 5 of 9 field goals and 6 of 8 free throws, had 17 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists in another  outstanding performance. Johnson had 11 points. Colamarino had seven points and 11 rebounds. Spaugh had six points and seven boards. Rankin had six points and 10 boards. Dirks had two points.

But one of the biggest keys to the game was Davie’s box-and-one on 6-0 senior La’Niya Simes, a 1,000-point scorer who is headed to Winston-Salem State. Spaugh and Dirks took turns chasing Simes and their defense on the reigning CPC Player of the Year was stifling. She hit two field goals and finished with six points.

“That shows how tough (Spaugh and Dirks) are,” Adams said. “Everybody worked together in the box. I take zero credit for it; that’s how my girls are playing right now.”

Notes: East fell to 11-5. … Reynolds (7-2) and East (6-2) are 1-2 in the CPC, but Davie (6-3) and Parkland (6-3) are tied for third and close behind. Reagan is 4-5, West Forsyth 3-5, Mt. Tabor 3-6, Glenn 0-9. … Davie’s top five scoring averages: Gentry 12.7, Johnson 10.3, Rankin 7.9, Spaugh 6.6 and Colamarino 5.3.