Boys fall short in double OT

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

With 67 seconds left in the first overtime at Reagan, Davie’s boys basketball team had a one-point lead, four free throws coming and then possession of the ball courtesy of a common foul followed by a technical foul. In the second overtime, Davie built a five-point lead.

But the roller coaster turned in the wrong direction on both occasions. What would have been a huge momentum-boosting win in the first round of the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament slipped through the War Eagles’ fingers. Losing to Reagan is hardly a crime, but the way in which they let this one get away was devastating.

The fourth-seeded Raiders outlasted No. 5 Davie 71-69 in double overtime in Pfafftown on Feb. 13.

“I was proud of them, but at the same time, we’ve come too far to lose games at the free-throw line,” coach Josh Pittman said after Davie went 6 of 15 from the stripe. “We’re 25 games in and making free throws at crunch time is a key to winning games. I feel like we are past the point where we should feel good about fighting hard and being in a close game. I believe in these guys and we’re at the point now where we should be winning these games.”

The 40-minute contest was filled twists and turns. Burke Rosenbaum was absolutely fantastic. With 1:35 remaining in the first quarter, it was Reagan 13, Rosenbaum 11. The Davie senior drove for two, then drained a 3-pointer. He sank a 17-foot fadeaway. He hit back-to-back tear drops in the lane. He shot 5 of 5 in his 11-point first. The rest of Davie was 1 for 10, the one make a Braddock Coleman 3 that cut into Reagan’s largest lead of the game, 18-11.

Davie led 29-27 at halftime behind two 3s from Coleman and one apiece from Hayden Williams, Jackson Powers and Rosenbaum.

“(One Reagan player) gambles a lot on defense, and I was telling Burke that we’ve got to get downhill and be confident in what we do,” Pittman said. “He was completely in the game the whole time. Honestly, I feel like everybody was. If we make free throws, we’re playing tomorrow night. It’s just that simple.”

Davie went 5 of 10 from long range in the third. Powers and Williams both hit two bombs and Rosenbaum hit one as Davie preserved a 44-43 lead.

When Rosenbaum converted a floater in the lane with his left hand, Davie was within 47-46. Coleman Lawhon was fouled on a successful drive, the 3-point play tying the score at 49.

There were several gut checks. Reagan’s 6-1 burst opened a 55-50 lead for the Raiders. But Lawhon got a steal and passed to Rosenbaum, who gave it back to Lawhon in the corner. Lawhon’s 3 cut the deficit to 55-53. Ethan Ratledge assisted another Lawhon 3 that knotted things at 56 with 1:10 remaining in regulation. Lawhon was 0 for 2 from 3-point range through three quarters but found a second wind at crunch time. He hit two 3s within 30 seconds and scored Davie’s last 10 points of regulation.

“(Lawhon) hadn’t had the best game up until the fourth quarter,” Pittman said. “I told him: ‘Big time players play big in the fourth quarter. You’ve got to forget about the other three. You’ve got eight minutes to step up and lead to the best of your ability.’ And he came out and delivered.”

The Raiders held the ball for the last shot of the fourth. Davie’s matchup zone kept their ball handlers out of the lane and Jalill Rogers tried to sink a game-winning 3 from the corner. It was well off to set up OT.

“That was good defense,” Pittman said. “That was a tough shot.”

In the first four-minute OT, a Powers 3 put Davie ahead 59-58. Powers blocked a shot at the other end and Lawhon took off in transition. A Raider fouled him as he was shooting, and the same Raider was hit with a technical foul. With 1:07 left, Davie had the 59-58 lead and four free throws. While Reagan (14-11) was staggered, Davie had an opportunity to drop the hammer.

“I thought we were going to seal it then,” Pittman said.

Alas, the War Eagles missed all four FTs. Reagan was on the ropes again when Lawhon knocked the ball away on defense. Rosenbaum gathered the loose ball and Reagan fouled Coleman at :27. The sophomore calmly hit both free throws to provide a 61-58 lead.

Reagan’s 6-0 sophomore, KJ Ford, hit a pair of FTs at :08 and Reagan fouled Coleman again at :07. This time Coleman split a pair to leave Davie’s lead at 62-60. That set up the first of two buzzer-beaters for the Raiders, who forced the second OT when 6-1 senior Caleb Ellison drilled a 10-footer from the right wing.

“I wanted us to deny the ball (on the inbounds),” Pittman said. “We denied the ball for like two seconds and let him go and catch it. With only seven seconds, we’ve got to stop the ball and not help. I’d rather them shoot another 3 than get a nice pull-up shot going to the right.”

In the second OT, the War Eagles hit Reagan with everything they had. Rosenbaum drained a 3 from the left wing. On the next Davie possession, Lawhon drilled a 3. It was 69-64 Davie. Those should have gone down as two of the greatest shots of the season.

“Teams in our conference are really athletic and we work on our fakes,” Pittman said. “I tell them before every game – use your fakes because most of the time, even the guards, they will jump to block shots.”

But every time Davie took the upper hand, Reagan answered back. An and-one cut Davie’s lead to two, and after Reagan got a defensive stop, Rogers hit an acrobatic shot in the lane to make it 69-69 at :52.

Davie worked 35 seconds off the clock before Pittman called timeout at :17.

“When Burke started to drive, I called timeout because I saw the way they were playing defense,” Pittman said. “They were trying to give you the lane, they clamped down and played physical.”

After the timeout, a War Eagle drove and dished to a teammate on the right block. Reagan’s help defense cut off the passing lane, resulting in a deflection and steal. Reagan moved frantically to the other end. Carter Powell’s shot in the lane was short, but Ford was in the right place at the right time. He snatched the rebound and had an easy, uncontested layup as the horn sounded.

“That’s probably the longest seven seconds of my life,” Pittman said.

It was a breathtaking game with all kinds of drama, tension and suspense. Victory was tantalizingly close late in the fourth and in the second OT. The War Eagles buried an incredible 15 of 29 3s, only to be doomed by 40-percent foul shooting.

“(In the timeout with 17 seconds left), I told the guys: ‘Let’s run motion, we can get it back to Coleman and make sure we get the last shot,’” Pittman said. “We thought we saw a lane. (Giving up the lane) is exactly what they did and they did it well. That’s when they came up with the steal.”

Davie got big performances from Rosenbaum (19 points, 3 3s, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals), Powers (16 points, 4 3s, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) and Lawhon (16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists, 3 3s). Rosenbaum hit 8 of 10 field goals. Williams hit 3 of 6 3s to score nine. Coleman went 2 of 2 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the line to score nine to go with three assists. Ratledge had four rebounds and two assists.

Notes: Davie took four charges on defense. Powers took two, while Williams and Coleman took one each. … Davie led by five twice. Reagan’s biggest lead was seven. … This was the rubber match after the teams split in the regular season. … This was Davie’s third OT game. It beat Starmount in double OT and lost to East Forsyth in OT. … Davie (17-8) went 4-3 in CPC games decided by six points or less. … In the other three first-round games, No. 1 Mt. Tabor beat No. 8 Parkland 77-54, No. 3 East Forsyth beat No. 6 Glenn 64-51 and No. 7 Reynolds upset No. 2 West Forsyth 67-64. In the semifinals, Reagan knocked off Tabor 45-41 and East beat Reynolds 77-68. In the final, East beat Reagan 69-60. … Davie made the 4-A playoffs as the 19 seed in the West Region. It played at No. 14 Hopewell on Feb. 21.