Boys stumble in first round

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

In the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament, the Davie boys basketball team’s vision of possibly getting rubber matches against West Forsyth and Mt. Tabor came apart in the first quarter of the first round.

The second-seeded War Eagles entered the tournament on a three-game winning streak, including a win over Reynolds three days before the tourney, but the No. 7 Demons changed Davie’s sun to rain on Feb. 19. It was a dispiriting 65-62 loss that saw Davie face an uphill climb all game.

Davie, which is 5-4 the past nine games, stumbled to 21-4.

“This is part of the process,” coach Josh Pittman said. “You get better one year. The next year you are playing better and expectations rise, and then you’ve got to learn how to play in these games. I think we learned a lesson tonight.”

The Demons (11-14) entered the Davie gym with a four-game losing streak, but they fired on all cylinders after losing twice to Davie in the regular season. Yes, Reynolds has a losing record after finishing seventh, but this was a league race that was crazy tight. Both of the earlier Davie-Reynolds games certainly could have gone either way; Davie overrode 24- and 12-point deficits to win 65-56 and 69-66, respectively.

The biggest reason the Demons won in the CPCT: They were red hot from 3 (11 of 19).

“I think we were caught up in the pressure of the game and we were just not listening,” Pittman said. “We were in a zone a lot. We wanted to let the big man play one-on-one against Jackson (Powers), but the guards were continuing to dig down and they would just kick it back out for a 3. A lot of times (Reynolds’ big man) never even looked at the goal.”

The War Eagles trailed 14-6 after an ugly first quarter. Davie chipped away – it was 30-23 at halftime and 46-37 after the third quarter – but Reynolds never relinquished command of the game.

The War Eagles did have Reynolds reeling in the fourth, closing the gap to three multiple times. But they couldn’t find the mark outside, missing 13 of 18 3-pointers. The thing that worked best was getting the ball to Powers (20 points, 8 rebounds, 5-5 free throws) and Ethan Ratledge (18 points, 7-9 FGs, 4-5 FTs).

In the end, Davie came up just short.

“We made it a one-possession game four times, but then we always went away from what got us back to a one-possession game,” Pittman said. “They were staying home on all shooters, and Ethan and Jackson were basically playing one-on-one inside. We would go inside and get it to one. The next time down we were down maybe three and we tried to shoot a 3. We have to learn what works for us and whose night it is and let that person have that night. When we do that, we’re successful. But when we try to play hero ball, I just don’t think it works for us.”

Bryson Mickey had eight points and three assists. Gavin Williams and Adam Brown, who went 4-4 from the line, had six points each. Coleman Lawhon had three points, five rebounds and two assists. Landon King had one point.

The War Eagles stayed in the game by hitting 17 of 20 free throws, but they could have used some friendlier bounces.

“We had four or five layups go in and out, and we had two 3s go in and out,” Pittman said.

After losing to Reynolds for the first time in five meetings, it was time to pick up the pieces, shake off the disappointment and get refocused for the state playoffs. Davie, seeded 10th in the West Regional, hosted No. 23 Northern Guilford in a first-round game Feb. 27. The second round is Feb. 29.

“I think we have some favorable matchups (in the bracket),” Pittman said. “I’m giving them two days off and get ready to rock on Tuesday.”

In the semifinals, No. 3 West Forsyth beat Reynolds by 10 and No. 1 Mt. Tabor rocked East Forsyth by 28. In the championship game, Tabor beat West by 12.