Girls roll in conference tourney opening games

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

All those lean years – records like 8-16, 8-15, 8-17, 3-21, 6-17, 3-21, 6-19, 0-25 – and the pain they brought made what the Davie girls basketball team did in the Central Piedmont Conference Tournament all the more special.

Davie beat Parkland and Reynolds in the first two rounds to reach the championship game for the first time in 21 years.

Second-seeded Reynolds beat No. 3 Davie 48-43 and 57-45 in the regular season, the latter coming three days before the CPCT. But Davie turned a corner against Reynolds in the semifinals and climbed to 16 victories – after getting 13 last year and nine the year before and three the year before that.

“Four years ago when I came to Davie, they probably did not know what to expect with a new coach and a losing program,” fourth-year coach Lindsey Adams said. “It was a whirlwind. This year, without our leading scorer (Kenadi Gentry), without our returning point guard, we’re in the CPC championship game. If you would’ve told me in September when (Kenadi) tore her ACL that we would have 16 wins and be in a championship, I would have never believed it. But the freshmen have really stepped up and made us hard to beat.”

Davie 59, Parkland 51

In the quarterfinals on Feb. 19 at Davie, the War Eagles wore down the No. 6 Mustangs in the second half.

The first half was back and forth. Both teams held five-point leads, with Davie jumping ahead 5-0 and Parkland surging to a 22-17 advantage. Davie led 26-25 at the break.

Parkland could not keep up in the second half, though, because Davie hit 9 of 10 field goals in the third. Peyton Spaugh grabbed a defensive rebound and finished a one-girl fast break. Avarie Martin scored inside. On the break, Emmie Burris fed Spaugh for two. Davie scored as the ball swung from Martin to Madison Daugherty to Burris. After Londyn McDowell scored in the lane, Malayka Rankin sank a 3.

At this point, Davie was 6 for 6 in the third. It finally missed, but McDowell was there to clean it up and lay it in. After Spaugh hit a runner and Martin finished a drive, Davie was up 46-40.

In the fourth, Rankin took a defensive rebound and passed to Spaugh, who made an impossible assist through traffic to Burris. Spaugh snatched a Parkland miss, headed downcourt and assisted a Burris bucket that made it 52-42.

Davie didn’t hit another field goal in the fourth, but kept Parkland at bay by converting at the line. While Parkland shot 11 of 33 in the second half, Davie was a scorching hot 11 for 14 (78 percent).

“Run and gun – go, go, go,” Adams said when asked about the game plan. “They were gassed. I just wanted to run them. They cut it to six. I ripped my girls, refocused them and then we were good again.”

Rankin played a big role with 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists. While the senior’s production was usual stuff, McDowell’s performance raised eyebrows. The freshman scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and controlled seven rebounds. She took her game to another level after missing the first five games of the season with a dislocated knee and coming in with a 2.3 scoring average.

“She’s been working all year,” Adams said. “She had a slow start after she dislocated her knee, and she has found the confidence. I knew something was up yesterday in our practice. We had practice for about an hour yesterday morning, and she was the superstar of practice. Nobody could stop her and it carried over to the game. It was exciting to see.”

Notes: Burris scored 10 on 4-of-6 shooting, handed out three assists and made two steals. Spaugh had nine points, four assists and four rebounds. Daugherty went 3-for-3 to score eight, grabbed five rebounds and dished out two assists. Martin and Bailey Aderhold had six and three points, respectively. … Parkland finished 6-18. … After going 0-2 against Parkland last year, Davie won all three meetings this year, including 58-47 and 66-62 in overtime.

Davie 46, Reynolds 43

Twice in the first half on Feb. 20, Davie faced seven-point deficits. When the visiting Demons scored the first five points of the third quarter to open a 28-17 lead, they looked destined to send Davie packing in the semifinals.

But the War Eagles clawed their way back, sent the crowd into hysterics and Aderhold, Burris and Martin hit daggers down the stretch.

The tide was turned by a ferocious 16-1 run that was triggered by an Aderhold 3. Makenzie Gentry’s inbounds pass resulted in a Spaugh layup. Daugherty’s first shot of the game was a splash from 3-point range.

What came next was an inspirational hustle play by freshman Vivian Vaughters. A Reynolds dribbler lost the ball and it ricochetted back to midcourt. Vaughters took off, dove on the floor for a tie-up and brought the crowd to their feet.

“That girl is special,” Adams said. “I have never seen someone pick up the game so quickly. She’s got so much heart.”

Rankin drove, was knocked to the deck and still laid it in. Daugherty hit another 3. Davie missed but Spaugh rebounded and stuck it in with the left hand to give Davie a 33-29 lead.

“We got to the paint throughout the first half, so they started clogging the paint,” Adams said. “At halftime I told them: ‘Shooters, you are up.’ Madison hit two big 3s.”

The Demons would retaliate, their 8-0 run putting Davie in a 37-33 hole. But the tough-as-nails Rankin came through, hitting two free throws before scoring on a physical drive to tie the game at 37.

“She finds something,” Adams said. “She is a basketball running back. She just finds a hole.”

Davie was down 38-37 and Aderhold reentered the game, at which point she was 1 for 6 from 3. But the sophomore shooter was money when it mattered most. Gentry sent the pass to the left wing. Aderhold banged the 3 with a hand in her face, providing a 40-38 lead with 2:36 remaining. Moments later, Spaugh drew a charge at midcourt.

“I needed some fresh legs,” Adams said. “Madison had hit two, but I noticed the last two 3s that she shot were short. Bailey had been sitting a while so I was like: ‘OK, she’s ready, they are going to leave her open. They are going to forget about her.’ And they did.”

Reynolds took a 43-42 lead and only 1:13 remained. Burris was 0 for 5 from the floor when she gave the ball to Gentry and ran to the left corner. Gentry penetrated to the free-throw line and zipped the ball to Burris. She attacked and hit a go-ahead floater at :48.

Burris hit her first shot when the heat was at its highest. This freshman is just wired differently.

“Again, Emmie had a clutch shot,” Adams said. “I think it’s her third one of the year like that. She might not do anything the whole game (offensively) and when it matters… I don’t know how she makes them. It is like she wants it. Coach (Debbie) Evans said she saw it in her eyes. She had already called it. I had not called it yet, because I had no idea which way it was going to go.”

The Demons got an offensive rebound but were called for traveling at :30. They fouled Martin, sending the freshman to the line at :17. She hit both to put the final nails in a team that was riding a seven-game winning streak.

Reynolds missed a potential tying 3, Gentry secured the rebound and fans went delirious as time expired.

It was a terrific team effort. Rankin (12 points, 10 rebounds) enjoyed her fifth double-double and drew three charges. Spaugh had nine points and four rebounds. Martin had eight points. Aderhold had six points and three rebounds. Daugherty had six points. Burris had five points and five rebounds. Gentry had four assists, three rebounds and a charge on defense.

“Vivian took out their leading scorer (Elliott Jessup) in the third quarter,” Adams said. “Peyton took out their point guard (Destiny Thompson) the entire game. She is their leading scorer for the year. Avarie carried us in the first half. People stepped up and played their role the entire game.”

In the second halves against Parkland/Reynolds, the War Eagles hit 20 of 34 shots. They relished their first semifinal triumph since 2002-03. Davie (16-10) had lost five of six to Reynolds (17-9).

“I think it’s the biggest win in eight years,” Adams said.