Lawhon clutch in 51-50 win

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

A week before the Davie varsity boys basketball team traveled to Pfafftown on Jan. 27, East Forsyth broke Davie’s heart at the buzzer. Coleman Lawhon wasn’t going to let it happen again.

The point guard who came in with a monstrous chip on his shoulder after having a subpar game in the first meeting with Reagan hit a tiebreaking free throw with six seconds left and then played tough defense on the game’s final possession to cap a dynamite performance and seal a 51-50 win.

Jackson Powers put up another sterling performance.

And when Davie needed huge, gutsy plays in the second half, it got them twice from Elliott Erlandsson, a sophomore who scored six points in 32 seconds after coming up big against East. That tells us he’s no one-hit wonder.

The War Eagles missed their first eight field goals as they endured one of their roughest shooting nights of the season. They played with fire in the fourth quarter, their 49-40 lead disappearing amid a series of turnovers. But they somehow managed to pick up a huge win anyway and avenge an 83-65 defeat on Dec. 16.

“We played a heck of a defensive game,” coach Josh Pittman said after Davie raised its overall record to 15-5. “We understood the importance of getting downhill and getting to the cup and playing inside-out.

“I like to see my guys get better as the season goes. God bless, every team I’ve had has gotten better as the season goes, and this team is showing that. We pray before every game. Our biggest goal is we’re always a team, no individuals.”

The game was over three minutes old before Davie got on the board, courtesy of an Erlandsson putback. Davie was 1 for 11 overall and 0 for 5 from deep before Burke Rosenbaum’s triple pulled Davie within 10-8.

That Rosenbaum basket triggered a 13-3 run. Powers scored while getting fouled. Powers missed the accompanying free throw, but Ian Koontz grabbed the rebound and quickly dished to Lawhon, who buried a 3 to give Davie an 18-13 advantage.

But the Raiders are second in Central Piedmont Conference for a reason, and they scored 10 of the final 11 points of the half to surge in front 23-19.

Davie was fine with the margin considering it shot 17 percent in the half (5-28). It was helped by seven free throws. The Raiders weren’t exactly hot, going 8 of 26 for 30 percent. They were ahead because they made four 3s.

“We had great looks,” Pittman said. “They just weren’t falling. But the looks we had allowed us to get back on defense.”

The War Eagles’ shooting woes spilled into the early stages of the third, resulting in a 28-21 deficit. They were 6 for 35 before coming alive and ripping off a 13-6 run. Twice Powers rebounded his own miss and stuck it in. Moments later, Powers nailed a 3. Lawhon hit a tough runner. Braddock Coleman zipped a gorgeous pass to a cutting Lawhon for a layup, and Davie had a 34-32 lead.

It was 34-34 before Davie went on another run, this one 13-4. Lawhon, who converted a handful of circus shots, drew a foul on a drive and put it high off the window. The ball rolled around the rim before finally dropping, and Lawhon finished the 3-point play at the line.

Davie needed an explosion from Lawhon, and boy did he deliver exactly that. He was averaging 13.2 points but only managed two in the last game against East. In this one, he went off for 19 points while draining seven field goals and four free throws – his biggest output in 11 games. He also controlled four boards and played all 32 minutes.

“I have to tip my cap to Coleman because before we played this team at home, I had made a post that I thought he was one of the best point guards in the area – and I still do,” Pittman said. “But their kids saw that post and they went at him hard. They talked junk to him, they bumped him and their point guard (6-1 senior Caleb Ellison) had a really good game. Coleman stepped up to the challenge. He did a phenomenal defensive job on (Ellison) and he attacked them, especially in the second half. He attacked them relentlessly, and then went back on the other end and played defense.”

Even Pittman, who played professionally for 17 years, marveled at the Lawhon shot that was high off the glass.

“It was extremely pretty,” he said. “He put it up off the glass and had English on it. I could only laugh and shake my head at that one. We do a lot of skill development in practice and a lot of one-on-one and two-on-two work, and it has to be at game speed. I think that’s helped him finish those layups.”

Erlandsson, who started 1 for 5 overall and 0 for 4 from long range, was not an offensive factor in the first half, yet he did not flinch when Hayden Williams fed him in the left corner with six minutes remaining. He stuck the 3-pointer. Thirty-two seconds later, he took an offensive rebound, scored as he was fouled and completed the 3-point play. This was the sophomore’s third varsity appearance and his first start. He got the nod because Ethan Ratledge was a late scratch with an injury from practice the day before.

“Elliott was a little jittery at first, but he’s just not afraid of the moment and he’s doing some great things for us,” Pittman said. “It’s not easy to go from playing JV and three games later you’re starting your first varsity game. When we needed a shot, he made a big one. When we needed a rebound, he got a big one. I was especially proud of the way he played defense. He boxed out when he could. The lift from him was great because we lost Ethan right before the game. I said: ‘Feel free, have fun and enjoy the moment. You’re prepared for it, so we’re good to go.’”

Later in the 13-4 run, Lawhon spun and hit a tear drop. Williams fed the big man and Powers scored inside. When Lawhon sank a 15-footer, Davie had the 49-40 lead with four minutes to go.

Powers did not have his best shooting night, but he was still a monster inside with 16 points, 18 rebounds and three assists. It was his sixth straight game with at least 13 points.

“Jackson did a wonderful job on the post,” Pittman said. “Sometimes when he misses one or two, he kind of slows down and feels like he shouldn’t shoot anymore. I told him: ‘Today is a game you can’t do that. We’re going to keep going to you, the guy can’t guard you and don’t give up on the play.’”

The Raiders, who had won 12 of 14, were not deterred by their 49-40 deficit. They responded with a 10-2 run. An and-one cut Davie’s lead to 50-47 at :32. Davie, which missed the front end of a one-and-one at :18, was wobbling. Reagan’s Jalill Rogers, a 6-3 senior, hit a 3 at :09 to tie the game at 50.

“I have to give credit to the other team,” Pittman said. “East (eight seniors), Reagan (seven seniors) and Glenn (10 seniors) are senior heavy, so they’re never going to give up. They’re seasoned and they know to keep playing hard.”

After Rogers tied it, Davie quickly inbounded to Lawhon, who was bumped by Rogers. He was headed to the foul line for two shots with six seconds on the clock. Davie fans were sweating when the first attempt missed, but Lawhon calmly made the second to put Davie up 51-50.

The ending was eerily similar to the game against East, which erased a 13-point deficit and dealt Davie an excruciating loss in OT when Will Gray scored at the buzzer. If Ellison does the same thing, it was going to be sickening for Davie. Ellison received the inbound pass and sped down the floor. But Lawhon’s defense forced him to take an offbalance 12-footer that fell short.

The final four minutes were not artistic, but the heartwarming underdog grinded its way to a pulsating victory.

“I could not call timeout because I had used my last one to keep Coleman in the game because he had a cut on his elbow,” Pittman said. “We talked all week about stopping the ball. I think with (Ellison) seeing Jackson in the background made him shoot a long fadeaway.”

Notes: In addition to scoring 19 and providing the game-winning point, Lawhon played sensational defense on Ellison, who failed to score after pouring in 24 at Davie. … Erlandsson had eight points, six rebounds and two blocks. Rosenbaum had four points. Williams had two points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists. Coleman had two points. “Braddock did a wonderful job of guarding (Rogers),” Pittman said. “Braddock brings energy. Ian did a wonderful job coming in with some energy, rebounding the ball and being solid on defense.” … The only losses for Reagan (12-7) during its 12-2 run were to Mt. Tabor and in triple-overtime to East. … The top five in the CPC standings heading into this week: Tabor 10-0, Reagan 7-3, West Forsyth/East Forsyth 6-3, Davie 5-5. … Davie stopped a three-game losing streak to Reagan. … The War Eagles, who did not play a one-point game for nearly three years, were involved in three in 15 days, including a 51-50 win over Glenn and the 59-58 loss to East. … One thing Pittman loves about Davie is the crowd support. “I don’t think we’ve had a letdown game this year,” he said. “They travel every game. The sixth man brings energy and helps us stay in the game. Our (Davie) Crazies were there, too.”