Boys outlast Tabor; extend win streak to 13

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

What a week it was for the Davie boys basketball team. Winning at Reagan and at Mt. Tabor in a span of three days was a big ask, but the War Eagles pulled out both hotly contested games and looked the part of a real threat in the Central Piedmont Conference race.

There were so many reasons the 59-53 victory over Tabor on Jan. 5 was special.

• The Spartans had an 18-game winning streak in the regular season.

• Davie had dropped three straight and 14 of 15 to Tabor, including 40- and 27-point losses last season.

• The War Eagles (13-0) now have their longest winning streak since the 2018-19 team rattled off 13 in a row.

• Davie entered the week in sole possession of first place at 3-0. West Forsyth is 2-0, while Tabor and Reynolds are 2-1.

The unbeaten War Eagles were giddy when they left Tabor, but coach Josh Pittman cautioned that things can change in a hurry in the CPC.

“I just knew we could beat them, and now it’s about staying humble and working,” he said. “I told the kids in the locker room: ‘Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, don’t walk around with your head inflated because we haven’t done anything.’ Yeah, that’s a big win, but you’ve got West Forsyth coming to town on (Jan. 9) and they are playing really good basketball. We’ve just gotta keep working.”

The first half was as tight as it gets. Davie emerged with a 24-22 halftime lead as neither team led by more than three.

“We started off the game in the game, and that’s all I wanted,” Pittman said. “I did not want us to get hit in the mouth and put our head down.”

Davie seized command in the third quarter with torrid outside shooting. Gavin Williams hit a 3, Jackson Powers scored in the paint and Coleman Lawhon buried back-to-back 3s. After Powers converted inside, Bryson Mickey nailed a triple, making Davie 6 for its last 8 from long range. When Powers split a pair at the line, Davie had its largest lead at the end of the third, 42-32.

“I told them it will pop sooner or later, and when it pops, we’re going to get up 8-10 points, and then we’ve got to maintain,” Pittman said. “It popped, and then they came back, and then we started to play Davie basketball and make that extra pass – and that is hard to guard.”

You knew the Spartans (8-4 overall) weren’t going to roll over. They stormed back by making three straight 3s. Just like that, Davie’s lead was down to 42-41 with 6:24 remaining.

“I know they made a run and hit three 3s, but I was OK with that because other guys were scoring (other than Shamarius “Snook” Peterkin and Joah Shay),” Pittman said. “If you beat us with other guys scoring, then so be it, good for them.”

The way the War Eagles responded to Tabor’s push made their fans’ hearts soar. Mickey drove and got an and-one at 5:47. That was exactly what Davie needed. Then Powers took a pass in the right corner from Coleman Lawhon and made a 3. Ethan Ratledge tipped a Davie miss to Mickey, who immediately hit Landon King in the lane for a bucket. Ratledge spun free in the lane and hit a layup. Mickey penetrated and dished to the right corner. Lawhon splashed a 3 as he was knocked down in front of the Davie bench, resulting in a four-point play.

In a span of 2:01, the War Eagles ripped off a 14-2 run. They converted 5 of 7 field goals, scored on five of six possessions and soared to a 56-43 lead. Meanwhile, Tabor scored on one of five possessions. That was the knockout blow. That was a two-minute spurt for the ages.

“The game could have gone either way, but the guys did a good job of listening and being coachable,” Pittman said. “The energy was right, the bench was locked in and everybody that came in contributed. Everybody was focused, the effort that you need to beat those type of teams.”

Davie beat Tabor for the first time since February 2022 behind a huge game from Lawhon, who scored 19 points by hitting 4 of 8 bombs. It was his biggest scoring output in 18 games. For good measure, he yanked down six rebounds.

“Coleman hit some daggers,” Pittman said.

Powers (14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) and Mickey (12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) were stalwarts as usual.

“Bryson controlled the game and had a huge and-one to settle us back down,” Pittman said.

But Davie’s ability to contain Peterkin (12 points) and Shay (five) was a big part of it. Pittman employed a triangle-and-two on Tabor’s two main weapons and occasionally a box-and-one on Peterkin.

“Gavin Williams, Landon King, Ethan Driver, Braddock Coleman, Adam Brown – when you put all those guys on them and they are expending energy and working them, it’s hard to play four quarters and still have your offense in the fourth quarter,” Pittman said. “Landon and Snook have played together since sixth grade in AAU, so Landon knows everything Snook’s going to do. He  was aggressive with him and that’s how we’ve got to play. He played well in that role.

“At halftime I told them: ‘If we keep playing defense, we’re going to be fine. I can’t promise you we’re going to win, but I can promise you we’re going to be right there in position to win.’ They sat down and bought in on defense. I heard Ethan (Ratledge) in the locker room say: ‘That was an ugly offensive game for me.’ I said: ‘Yeah, but you did so much. Your pace was good, your defense was good, you were talking. Sometimes it’s not about a bucket when you do what you’re doing.’”

Davie knows how to spread around the wealth. Powers is averaging 14.8 points, Mickey 13.3, Lawhon 9.6, Ratledge 8.3 and Williams 7.6.

“I love this team because I feel like everybody is playing their role,” Pittman said. “When they do that, we’re tough.”

Notes: Seven War Eagles contributed points against Tabor, including Williams (seven), King (four), Ratledge (two) and Ethan Driver (one). … Davie stopped a four-game winning streak by the Spartans, who went 14-0 in the CPC last year. … The 2018-19 bunch that won 13 straight also relied on a balanced attack. Owen McCormack scored 13.6 per game, Michael Walton 13, Jacob Hendrix 12.5, Troy Griggs 10.5 and Brooks Johnson 8. … Davie’s last win in the series was 58-54 on Feb. 1, 2022, when Za’haree Maddox and Blake Walser scored 17 each and Zymere Hudson 12.