War Eagle boys ride Ratledge past Reagan

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie boys basketball team’s top three scorers didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the home game against Reagan on Jan. 30.

Did that spell doom with co-leader Davie trying to keep pace with Mt. Tabor? Nope. It hardly mattered because No. 4 scorer Ethan Ratledge was masterful. It hardly mattered because, as anyone who follows Davie knows by now, there’s no telling who the principal weapon is going to be from game to game.

“At halftime I told them: ‘Tonight is Ethan’s night and let it be his night,’” coach Josh Pittman said after Ratledge’s career-high 20 points powered a 57-46 win. “That’s what I like about this team – they’re OK with letting it be his night as opposed to somebody else trying to force something.”

Ratledge put on an inside clinic. The senior scored 10 in the first seven minutes, putting the lefty on pace for 46. A sensational first half for Davie (18-1 overall) included two highlights from Ethan Driver, who delivered a no-look bounce pass that led to a three-point play by Jackson Powers. Then Driver got a steal and scored.

During one stretch, seemingly everyone played a role in the 34-17 halftime lead. Gavin Williams sank his second 3-pointer of the half, Powers followed with a triple, Landon King finished a drive, and then Ratledge scored inside.

The Raiders did, however, make things interesting in the third quarter. They pressed fullcourt, held Davie to two field goals and sliced the margin to 39-31 going into the fourth.

“I knew they were not going to give up,” Pittman said. “They are a well-coached team, but we rushed some shots that we did not have to shoot. I don’t mind winning the game 39-31. We could’ve sat there and ran motion offense the whole second half and won the game by 13 points. But we took a shot here and there and they were able to push the ball, and that’s what let them cut it to eight.”

Powers (14.3 points per game coming in), Bryson Mickey (14) and Coleman Lawhon (10.1) shot a combined 9 of 24; Mickey only attempted four shots all game. But Lawhon and Mickey found their crunch-time fortitude after Reagan (11-8, 3-6 CPC) climbed within eight.

Lawhon’s only 3 of the game couldn’t have come at a better time, pushing Davie’s lead to 42-31 early in the fourth. Then Lawhon snatched an offensive rebound and made a no-look pass to Ratledge, who finished near the rim. Lawhon drove, switched to the left hand and scored as he was fouled.

Then it was Mickey’s turn to be clutch. He banged a 3. He assisted a Ratledge bucket. He drove to the hole with 6-foot-7 Cooper Jackson soaring through the air with intentions of sending the shot to the fifth row. Mickey was unfazed, laying the lefthanded layup high off the glass and watching it plop through the net.

At 54-40, Reagan’s comeback hopes were dashed.

“We’ve got a bunch of good leadership on this team, and they know how to settle back in when we need it,” Pittman said. “It started with stops and once we got stops, we were in good shape. That helped us get back in a rhythm and then we finished off the game.”

Ratledge’s shooting numbers were a sparkling 10 of 11, the lone miss a 3-point try. His previous varsity scoring high was 16 in a home win over Parkland last year. He flat-out stole the show after entering with an 8.7 average.

“Well, all lefties are awkward,” Pittman said with a chuckle. “That’s why we always put him in a situation where he can go to his strengths. We put in ‘4’ at Reagan. It’s hard to stop because you’ve got Jackson passing him the ball and you cannot leave Jackson alone because he can shoot. You have to get the lane and then you’ve got Coleman here, Bryson over there. You’ve got Driver, you’ve got Gavin Williams, so you’ve got to stay home. I will let Ethan work one-on-one all day.”

Powers was a stat-sheet stuffer with 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Lawhon did solid work with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists. The other points came from Mickey (7), Williams (6), King (2) and Driver (2).

Davie kept pace with Tabor, which defeated East Forsyth. Davie and Tabor were 8-1 in the CPC when they met here Friday.