25 years ago in sports: Cornatzer sets record; Heiny wins state title

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

A look back at Davie sports 25 years ago …

After helping Davie football soar to a then-record 11 victories in 1997, Scott Cornatzer and JJ Rice were named to the All-Northwest team.

Cornatzer, a 5-10, 185-pound senior safety, set a single-season record with 10 interceptions. He still holds a share of the record; Matt Oswell matched him with 10 picks in 2006.

“Scott is a very aggressive player, kind of a silent leader of our team,” coach Benjie Brown said in 1998. “He loves contact. His physical presence and support on the run was very good. Most of the time, he did a good job of baiting quarterbacks into throwing and he anticipated well. He’s a sneaky player and one that I will hate to see go.”

Rice (5-9, 245) was a beast on the defensive line as a junior.

“JJ is an exceptional kid,” Brown said. “He’s a great player with good quickness. His size could be a disadvantage, but he doesn’t let it be one. He is very technique-oriented, doesn’t make many mistakes and tries to play within what we want to do. On top of that, he fights as hard in the classroom as he does on the field.”

• After the Davie JV girls basketball team missed three shots, forward Katie Bernhardt grabbed an offensive rebound with time running out in a tie game at North Davidson. She scored with 1.4 seconds left to give Davie a 42-40 win.

“The girls went crazy,” coach Mark Sinopoli said after his team’s eighth win in nine tries.

Later in the 1997-98 season, Heather Schleupner poured in 27 points as Davie knocked off unbeaten Reynolds 47-34.

• Reeling from eight straight losses, the Davie varsity girls basketball team used grit and determination to beat West Forsyth 41-39. West’s Jennifer Wood and Davie’s Tiffany Peoples (career-high 20 points) were responsible for 42 of the game’s 80 points.

Leslie Holcomb’s 3-pointer provided the largest lead of the game, 38-29, with four minutes remaining. When Erin Umberger scored, it was 40-34 with 1:35 to go. But West scored five straight to pull within 40-39. Melinda Richie hit a free throw to make it 41-39 and Davie got a stop on West’s final possession.

• In the middle school conference tournament, South Davie’s wrestling team got first-place performances from Jacob Garner (95), Michael Clement (125) and Patrick Lowery (171). Lowery became a champion even though his first priority was playing on the South basketball team.

“He practiced with us over Christmas and on days he didn’t have basketball,” coach Matt Wilson said. “I think he’s a natural wrestler, but he enjoys basketball a little more.”

North Davie’s champions were Tyler Black (83) and Cassidy McMahan (160).

• After North Rowan hit a go-ahead layup with 13 seconds left, Greg Brooks answered with a bucket at :04 to give the South Davie eighth-grade boys a thrilling 37-36 win on the road.

On the winning play, center Dave Poplin flashed to the top of the key, received a pass and then whipped the ball to Brooks in the corner. After Brooks hit the shot, Neil Rice sealed it by stealing the North inbounds pass.

• Although the Davie varsity boys fell 76-60 to West Forsyth, it was a night to remember for guard Mike Whelan, who broke Brad Van Hoy’s record for 3-pointers in a game. Whelan hit eight triples to eclipse Van Hoy’s mark by one.

“(My teammates) were setting screens and getting me the ball,” Whelan said. “Without them, I’m nothing really.”

• In a battle that featured six lead changes, North Davie wrestling survived a 40-34 showdown at South Davie. The Tigers finished 9-4, the losses totaling 32 points. North (14-0) went undefeated for the eighth time in 18 years under coach Ron Kirk.

“We’ve had a lot of competitive matches, but that was the closest one I’ve ever had with (Kirk),” Wilson said. “I think we were both sweating at the end of this one.”

North got wins from Black (pin), Josh Stanley (decision), Steven Stanley (pin), Chris Hauser (major decision), Jon Goode (pin), McMahan (forfeit) and Nick Raby (pin). South’s winners were Garner (decision), Sammy McEwin (17-second pin), Nick Naylor (major), Clement (decision), Joey Davis (pin) and Richard Blackman (pin).

North clinched in the second-to-last match when Danny Miller rallied for an 8-6 win over South’s AJ Scales.

• South Rowan’s wrestling team was 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the CPC. Davie was also 4-0 in the league. The CPC title was on the line when the teams clashed at Davie.

Was it a nailbiter? Not hardly. Davie romped 54-9 to claim its 11th CPC championship in 13 years.

“They thought they were going to win,” coach Buddy Lowery said.

After falling behind 9-0, Davie ripped off 54 unanswered points behind Adam Bailey (major), Jamey Holt (decision), Nick Summers (decision), Jeremy Sink (pin), Drew Beck (decision), David Nail (pin), Jon Mauney (decision), Wil Lowdermilk (decision), Zeb Carter (injury default), Cornatzer (pin), Brian Murphy (pin) and Rice (pin).

• The Davie varsity boys were lugging a four-game losing streak. Mt. Tabor was ranked No. 1 in the Northwest Coaches Poll. But Davie caught lightning in a bottle and upset Tabor 69-66.

Senior Derek Faulkner (17 game-high points, seven rebounds) and sophomore Duane Phillips (16 points, six assists) were the catalysts. Whelan contributed 10 points and six rebounds.

• Freshman Shelby Michael of the Davie JV girls went off for 33 points, but she couldn’t prevent a 58-50 loss at South Rowan on a day when Schleupner, Elise Whitaker and Amber Hamm fouled out.

• In the Midwest Regional at Mt. Tabor, Davie wrestling was a runaway winner with 187.5 points. Northwest Guilford was a distant second at 129.

Holt (125) and Murphy (215) paced nine state qualifiers from Davie with first-place finishes in their respective weight classes. Bailey (119), Lowdermilk (160), Carter (171) and Rice (heavyweight) finished second, and Brad Pack (112), Sink (135) and Cornatzer (189) finished third.

In the state tournament in Charlotte, Cornatzer and Murphy placed third, while Bailey took fourth. Cornatzer went 32-5 for the season despite only wrestling in high school for one year. Murphy went 33-3 as a senior and Bailey 31-7 as a junior.

• Davie junior swimmer Mike Heiny captured titles in the 500 free and 100 back in the Western Regional in Hillsborough.

In the state meet at UNC, Heiny won the 500 free with a season-best time of 4:43.74. It gave him two state championships in three years. On top of that, he placed third in the 100 back at 54.64.

• In the first round of the conference tournament, Sara Miller of the North Davie seventh-grade girls basketball team was magnificent, scoring 26 points to carry the Wildcats to a 42-32 upset win over Concord.

The Wildcats faced a 30-22 deficit with six minutes to go. They scored 20 of the last 22 points to win going away. Miller had 12 of the 20.

• The seventh-grade girls final at Northwest Cabarrus was a classic. Top-seeded J.N. Fries outlasted No. 2 South Davie 41-38.

Sarah Williams hit two free throws with 17 seconds left to give South a 33-30 lead. Fries hit a contested 3 to send the game to OT.

When it was over, tears flowed on the South sideline. Fries finished 12-1. South settled for 11-2 after the teams produced nine ties and nine lead changes.

The South attack included Brittany Walker (six points, seven assists, three steals), Ryanne McDaniel (eight points, nine rebounds), Williams (eight points, six rebounds), Emily Clodfelter (six points, six rebounds), Jenny Broadway (five points, eight rebounds), Heather McDaniel (four points) and Kirsten Durham (one point, seven rebounds).

“This game was the kind of game you’d expect first- and second-place teams to play,” coach Sheila Tribble said. “I was so incredibly proud of the class the girls maintained throughout the game and during the moment of heartbreak. Basketball games will come and go in their lives, but their character will always be there.”