Girls find a way to beat Lexington

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

It wasn’t always pretty and there’s much work to be done, but the green-as-green-can-be Davie girls basketball team found a way in the season opener against visiting Lexington on Nov. 21. In a whistle-happy game that lasted one hour, 42 minutes, the War Eagles did what they had to do to claim a 46-38 decision.

“Lexington was a good opponent to get the freshman jitters out,” coach Lindsey Adams said.

Both teams got off to a slow start. Adams seethed at Davie’s shot selection – a team that played four freshmen, one sophomore and two seniors would finish 1 for 12 from 3-point territory – and called a timeout to refocus her troops.

“We took too many 3s early and had to settle down,” Adams said. “We have shooters. In middle school, Bailey Aderhold, Madison Daugherty, Emmie Burris and Avarie Martin were able to sit out there and shoot to 3, and trying to break that habit has been challenging. They were nervous and when you’re nervous, you revert back to your old habits and you just catch and shoot the 3. The first four possessions were catch-and-shoot 3s until I called a timeout and settled them down. We wanted to make backdoor cuts. We knew Lexington was going to overplay. All you had to do was drive and backdoor cut and you’ll get layups all day long. They could not think of the game plan because of the freshman nerves.”

The War Eagles gained the upper hand soon after the timeout. When Burris scored, Davie had its largest lead of the game at 23-8.

But a team this young is going to have rough stretches. Lexington fought back. After going 2 of 8 on 3-point tries in the first half, the Yellow Jackets banged three straight triples and chopped Davie’s lead to 27-24. The Yellow Jackets, though, would clang their last six shots from long range, and Davie managed to find its poise.

After Lexington got within 27-24, Martin drove to the hole, drew a foul and hit both free throws. Then there was a beautiful sequence that saw the ball move from Malayka Rankin to Burris to Martin – in rapid-fire fashion – and Martin finished inside.

Moments later, Lexington cut the gap to 31-25. But every time it got close, Davie rose to the moment. Rankin ripped down a rebound, went right back up and scored as she was fouled. It was 35-29 before Burris dished to Daugherty for a layup. It was 37-31 before Burris drove and passed to Martin, who swished a 17-footer for 41-31 breathing room.

Davie salted it away by hitting five free throws in the waning moments.

“We could have crumbled, but we kept our composure and did what we were supposed to do,” Adams said.

Freshman Burris will be a foundational piece for four years. She debuted with 11 team-high points on 5-of-9 shooting, six steals, four rebounds and two assists.

“Emmie was being a gamer,” Adams said. “She stepped up as a freshman. Yes, they all had mistakes, but they played through them.”

The 5-10 Martin seems to have an enormously high ceiling. Her freshman debut featured nine points, seven rebounds, four blocks and a charge on defense that evoked two thumbs up from the coach.

“Avarie is a shot blocker, but she can’t try to block every shot or she’ll get foul trouble,” Adams said. “She’s got to recognize when she can take a charge and when to time it up and block a shot, and then she’ll be a phenomenal defender because you will not know how to go against her. In preseason, she was one of our softest players, so that was huge for her to take that charge.”

What about that high ceiling? “Avarie should be a stretch guard by her junior year because of her length and athletic ability,” Adams said. “She’s always been so tall that she stayed in the high post and they put her in the paint to block shots. With the consistent work we are doing in practice and on her own time, she should become someone who can run one through five as a junior and senior.”

All-around contributions from seniors Rankin (nine points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals) and Peyton Spaugh (six points, five steals, five rebounds, two assists) was expected. Although Daugherty struggled with her shot, Adams was encouraged by the freshman’s seven rebounds and three assists. It’s only a matter of time before her shots fall.

“Madison is the smallest one, but she has kind of shocked me,” Adams said. “In the offseason, she was our best shooter. You did not see that (against Lexington), but she has led the team in 3-point percentage. She is lights out when she gets hot. I think the nerves got the best of her. She could’ve let that affect her defense, but she continued playing and pulled down some big boards even though she’s small.”

Notes: Aderhold, a sophomore, and Vivian Vaughters, a freshman, scored three and two points, respectively. … Although the War Eagles shot 36 percent overall, they were efficient on two-point attempts, going 17 of 37 (45 percent). … Davie held Lexington to 22-percent shooting (11-48).