Girls basketball loses floor general to injury

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Before a certain player got hurt, the Davie girls basketball team was going to return three of its top four scorers from last year and it was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Central Piedmont Conference.

The wind was at Davie’s back. Coach Lindsey Adams arrived following an 0-25 season in 2019-20 and breathed life into the program. The War Eagles went 3-9 in her first year. They climbed to 9-14 the next year. They climbed to 13-13 last year, when they enjoyed the finest 12-game stretch (10-2) in eight years, stopped a 12-game losing streak to East Forsyth, knocked off the eventual co-champion Reynolds by 36 points, achieved their first playoff appearance in seven years and stopped a streak of six losing seasons with a 13-13 record. And in Adams’ mind, the best was yet to come in 2023-24.

The pieces were in place to contend for their first CPC title since 2003, to push toward their first winning season since 2016.  That was before a devastating injury. A sense of fatalism descended when Kenadi Gentry sustained a season-ending ACL tear in a fall league game in October. She was the floor general, the quarterback, the experienced point guard who made everything go.

“With everybody healthy, we were definitely the team to beat in conference,” Adams said. “In the summer and fall, everybody was caught up with Kenadi being our leading scorer and all that, and Malayka Rankin was averaging 15-16 points a game, along with Kenadi’s 15-16 points a game, along with Avarie Martin averaging 12-13 points a game. When you take a facilitator like Kenadi away,  now they’re able to put their best defenders on Malayka and now Peyton Spaugh is having to run point guard; so that takes away a toughness in the post that we had. Avarie is having to do more work than was expected of her because everything is a domino effect.”

Gentry was Davie’s No. 1 scorer the past two years. After averaging 11.9 as a sophomore, she scored at a 12.9 clip last year. She had games with 20, 23 and 28, the latter coming in the stunning wipeout over Reynolds. She turned in an 18-point, 10-rebound game in which she drilled four 3-pointers. She was standing at 589 career points. She has college offers from St. Andrews, Brevard, Pfeiffer and Greensboro.

Kenadi’s sister, sophomore Makenzie Gentry, was going to assume the point-guard duties. Making things even more challenging, Makenzie had already gone down with her own knee injury as she tore her meniscus. Talk about a kid who has been cursed, it was just the latest painful setback for Makenzie. She missed her entire freshman year with a knee injury and hasn’t played since averaging 17.4 points as a South Davie eighth grader.

The good news: Makenzie had surgery Nov. 6 and is scheduled to return to the court Jan. 2. But Gentry injuries have completely reversed the outlook of the season. Davie is back to square one, back to the rebuilding-mode days of 2020-21.

“We’re trying to figure out who the next point guard is,” Adams said. “Now you’re playing veteran teams with no point guard and three freshmen in the starting lineup. We’re back to where we were four years ago when everybody was young and we had growing pains. It’s a place we did not expect our program to be at right now.

“Now I have five or six freshmen on varsity. We did not win a game on Super Saturday (at Freedom on Nov. 11). We went 0-3. We did play very good, veteran teams in Pisgah, East Burke and Marvin Ridge, who are historically good. But they exposed us. Malayka did all she could, but we have to have others step up and help her.”

Davie will lean heavily on Rankin, Spaugh and sophomore Bailey Aderhold. Rankin is a fourth-year varsity player who averaged 7.6 points last year. Spaugh is a third-year varsity player who averaged 6.2. Both are ferocious competitors on the defensive end. Rankin drew a whopping 32 charges as a junior, ranking first in the state in that category. She has offers from Brevard, Pfeiffer, William Peace and Greensboro.

A major scoring burden will fall on Aderhold’s shoulders. She has a year of varsity experience under her belt.

“Bailey she has a lot more confidence now,” Adams said. “Last year I think she struggled with confidence being the only freshman on varsity and playing behind a senior. She’s worked all offseason and gained her confidence back.”

With the War Eagles lacking experience outside of Rankin/Spaugh/Aderhold, they will have to rely on freshmen Martin, Emmie Burris, Madison Daugherty, Vivian Vaughters and Londyn McDowell.

“Avarie is probably the most athletic on the team,” Adams said of the 5-10 center. “I mean, she can touch the rim. She can block shots, but she’s not used to the physicality of what 4-A basketball is. In high school, you can’t just block every shot.

“Emmie and Madison are shooters who were going to be coming off the bench. Now they’re potentially in the starting lineup and being thrown to the wolves.”