Boys roll to 10-0 with tournament opening wins

Published 2:31 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

After Thomasville rallied back within striking distance in the second half, the Davie varsity boys basketball team needed its inside enforcer to take over, and Jackson Powers delivered right on cue and led a 68-50 victory in the first round of the Davidson/Randolph Christmas Classic at Ledford on Dec. 27.

“It was on the board that they don’t really have a post presence,” coach Josh Pittman said of his pregame chalk talk.

The War Eagles raced to a 21-6 lead by draining five 3-pointers in the first quarter – two each by Bryson Mickey and Powers and one by Ethan Driver.

The lead ranged from seven to 16 points from the time it was 21-14 until it was 49-33. Davie looked destined for a stress-free win, but the Bulldogs (3-4) began to put up a fight in the third, thanks mainly to 6-1 senior Charles Norman, who drilled three triples during their 14-2 run. Suddenly, it was 51-47 with 5:05 remaining.

Pittman was not too thrilled with the defensive focus during Thomasville’s comeback.

“Basketball is a game of runs, so I figured they would make a run,” he said. “During that run, I did not like our defensive recognition. I felt like we were too caught up on what was going on on the offensive end and we let a guy (Norman) hit three 3s, and on the fourth one (that missed), he was still able to set his feet and shoot. I was extremely irritated about that.”

If it weren’t for another prolific performance by the 6-6 Powers (22 points, seven rebounds), unbeaten Davie might have stubbed its toe. He posted up and converted a jump hook at 4:30. Landon King stole a pass and sped down the court for two. After Thomasville turned it over, Mickey hit a 3. Davie missed but Ethan Ratledge was right there to lay it in. King scored on a fast break, then nailed a 3. Coleman Lawhon buried a trey as Davie closed with a furious 17-3 run.

“They don’t play with a post guy on offense or defense,” Pittman said. “It was one of those games where it was hard to run plays because of the way they play defense – run and trap. Since they were pressed up so much on the guards, we kept yelling: ‘Block, block.’ We moved the ball around enough to get it to Jackson in the post, and he was basically playing one-on-one down there. I think he’s improved so much that it’s going to be hard for somebody to stop him one-on-one.”

King, who made his first appearance of the game in the third quarter, was a key part of that terrific game-ending run.

“Landon gave us a spark and helped us close the game,” Pittman said. “I told him: ‘We’re in man and you take No. 34 (Norman). Don’t leave, stay home.’ He did what he was supposed to do, and he found some momentum and rhythm off of that. I was pleased that he had not played (in the first two-plus quarters), but when he was called on, he was ready and stepped up to the plate. That was huge for us and I think it was huge for him.”

Powers hit 7 of 12 field goals and 6 of 8 free throws. Mickey, who made 4 of 10 3-point shots, did his part by collecting 14 points, six assists and two steals. King hit 3 of 4 shots, scored seven and grabbed three rebounds. Ratledge had six points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Lawhon had five points, Gavin Williams four, Driver three, Braddock Coleman three, Adam Brown two and Elliott Erlandsson two. Driver also snatched five boards.

Davie shot 51 percent (25 of 49). Thomasville went 19 of 45 for 42 percent.

Davie 61, W. Davidson 44

Don’t let the final margin fool you. Davie smashed West Davidson in the semifinals on Dec. 28.

The War Eagles had West doubled up at the end of the first quarter (18-9) and led by 20 at halftime (37-17). They coasted from there.

Williams nailed two 3s in the early going. Mickey makes at least one highlight-reel pass every game, and this one came when he was double-teamed. He found a way to thread the needle with a long bounce to Driver, who was open underneath for a layup.

Coleman was a part of the best hustle play. It started when Lawhon batted a pass. Coleman dove to save it before it went out of bounds. Lawhon grabbed the pass and hit Driver for an uncontested layup.

King had another nice spurt. He drove and dished for a Powers bucket. King finished a fast break. Then he got a steal and started a break that saw the ball go from King to Mickey to Williams.

The game was all but over at halftime, and Pittman sent in five subs at the 4:30 mark of the third. The starters sat the last 12:30.

Powers hit 6 of 8 shots to score 14. Brown was 4-for-4 from the floor for 11 points. Driver and Williams had eight each. Lawhon had 6 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Ratledge had 5 points, Isaac Swisher 4, King two, Mickey 2 and Cam Owens 1. King had 2 steals and 2 assists. Mickey and Owens had 3 assists each. Coleman had 3 steals.

The War Eagles shot 50 percent (24-48) to run their record to 10-0. The Dragons fell to 5-7.