Girls fall short in conference tourney

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Davie’s box-and-one defense, keyed by chaser Sydney Dirks, put a wet blanket on Reagan shooter Grace Galyon. Keelyn Oakes and Malayka Rankin collapsed on Reagan center Emma Pendleton, slowing her down in the second half.

But the Davie varsity girls basketball team did not do so well against the other Reagan shooter, Avery Corbin, who nailed four 3-pointers, including three when the game was hanging in the balance. Davie paid the price for that shortcoming, losing 49-43 at Reagan in the first round of the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament on Feb. 13.

The fourth-seeded Raiders (13-10) picked up their fourth straight win while taking the rubber match against Davie. The No. 5 War Eagles slipped to 13-12. The teams split in the regular season, with Davie winning 53-42 and Reagan returning the favor 50-39.

“I knew size-wise we couldn’t really stop Emma in the post,” coach Lindsey Adams said. “We had Lauren (Colamarino) on her the second time we played them and she still had 20 points. So I had a different game plan and decided to take their point guard (Galyon), who had 20 points last time, out of the game. And I think it worked because they weren’t able to run a lot of offensive stuff. I think that set us up for success.”

It did until Corbin took over late in the third quarter.

The game was tightly contested. Davie’s biggest lead was six, Reagan’s largest lead was seven and there were 10 lead changes. Kenadi Gentry and Somer Johnson powered Davie in the first half, the duo combining for Davie’s first 15 points. Then Rankin got involved in the offense. She had six of Davie’s last nine in the first half. Dirks contributed four rebounds and three assists as Davie entered halftime trailing by one, 22-21.

Gentry heated up in the third as Davie took momentary control. She swung the momentum by banging a 3-pointer. After Rankin scored off an offensive rebound, Gentry turned a steal into a layup. When she hit another triple, Davie had a 32-26 lead with 3:30 to go in the third.

The junior point guard continued to stand out with 16 points and four 3s.

Corbin and Reagan, though, turned the game in the last three minutes of the third and the first minute of the fourth. That’s when they scored 13 unanswered points. Corbin canned a pair of treys in that stretch to help Reagan charge to a 39-32 lead.

“A few mental lapses in the third when (Corbin) hit two 3s – that was our fault for just not being aware,” Adams said. “I’d put on the board that she’s a shooter, you’ve got to have a hand up and know where she’s at because the box-and-one leaves the 3-point line open. Those two mishaps gave them the momentum they needed. I wish we would have been paying more attention to the details in that situation.”

Rankin kept Davie alive by hitting an unexpected 3 to cut Reagan’s lead to 39-35. Davie was fullcourt pressing at this time, and Rankin stole a pass, scored as she was fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to pull Davie within 40-38.

It was a superb effort by Rankin, who matched Gentry with 16 points – the most for her in 19 games and two from her career high. The junior hit 5 of 7 shots, grabbed six rebounds, took three charges and made two steals.

“I think that’s the third (3-pointer) she’s hit all year, but she’s been coming in the gym a lot, getting shots up and trying to extend her game,” Adams said. “With how fast she is, a lot of people are starting to play off of her, so we’ve talked a lot about being able to knock the (outside) shot down.”

Rankin, Gentry and Johnson accounted for all the Davie points. When Johnson (11 points) turned an offensive board into two, Davie was within 42-40 with plenty of time remaining.

But Corbin was the difference in the game. She answered with a 3 that made it 45-40 wit 2:25 to play. Her fourth trey of the night was a huge blow to Davie’s hopes.

Reagan committed a turnover when it was 45-41, leaving the door open, but Davie missed two 3s on the next possession. Gentry’s try from the arc rattled in and out with 61 seconds left. Johnson took a bullet pass from Gentry and hit a difficult shot in the paint to draw Davie within 46-43 at :23. Galyon, however, hit two free throws at :22 to put it out of reach.

“I tell my girls a lot that in big games every possession matters,” Adams said. “We had two or three possessions on defense where I feel like we didn’t execute, and we had two or three possessions on offense where a shot didn’t fall or we turned it over. Those add up in a close game like that. But other than that, we fought hard. I’m satisfied with how we battled. Our conference is just tough this year.”

Dirks turned in her usual solid defensive effort and held Galyon to single-digit scoring. Peyton Spaugh had four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Oakes had three rebounds and helped limit Pendleton, who had 12 first-half points, to seven in the second half.

Notes: Nursing an injury, Colamarino did not check in until 6:52 remained in the fourth. … The War Eagles have their most wins in seven years, but by dropping five of six games, their quest for the first winning season in seven years is in jeopardy. … The other three first-round scores: No. 1 Parkland won 68-37 over No. 8 Glenn, No. 6 West Forsyth upset No. 3 East Forsyth 47-33 and No. 2 Reynolds won 49-39 over No. 7 Mt. Tabor. In the semifinals, Reagan won 60-50 over Parkland and West Forsyth beat Reynolds 37-23. The final matched No. 6 West against No. 4 Reagan, and the Titans prevailed 33-30. … Davie, seeded 30th in the West Region, played a first-round state playoff game at No. 3 Northern Guilford on Feb. 21.