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South, North girls basketball open with wins

The South Davie girls basketball team has been flying high for several years, and the Tigers picked up where they left off last year in a 38-25 road win over Ellis in the season opener on Jan. 14.

The Tigers have posted six straight winning seasons, including a 13-3 mark last year.

They jumped out to 8-1 and 16-7 leads in the first half. South weathered a Kaylee Lewis storm to beat Ellis for the third straight time and 12th time in 13 meetings.

“Considering we are relatively young and are working on a lot of fundamentals, we did really well running the floor and getting some transition points,” said South coach Morgan Wyatt, who is 47-11 in five seasons. “We still have a long ways to go and a lot to work on, but starting off I was pleased with the effort.”

After going scoreless in the first half, Lewis took over, her 11 third-quarter points keeping Ellis in contention at 28-20.

“Kaylee was the spark we needed,” Ellis coach Joe Brunelli said. “She is definitely a strong player and a true leader.”

South did not let Ellis threaten in the fourth, though, with Jayden Carter’s six points and Emmy Johnson’s four putting the verdict away.

Johnson led with 10 points. Makenzie Gentry had eight, while Taitiyuanna Torrence and Carter had six each. Raney Phelps and Cat Rosser had four apiece.

Ellis was paced by Lewis’ 14 points and three 3-pointers. Bailey Aderhold had five, Kayden Richardson four and Emmie Burris two.

Despite the loss, Brunelli saw plenty of positives.

“Once all the players’ nerves lessened, they all began to play so much stronger,” he said. “I know the end result was not what we wanted, but after Kaylee caught fire we started to loosen up and play better.

“With Bailey, Cora (Nicholson) and Kaylee in the backcourt, good things will happen this season. They work well together and make for a dynamic part of our team.

“Kayden and Emmie – both sixth graders – grabbed some rebounds and played very well against a strong South Davie team. I expect great plays from them, once their nerves settle down.

“Quinn Cornatzer and Britany Hernandez came in off the bench and gave us some key minutes. We may be a team of few players (seven girls), but they play with heart. This was a great first game and I expect they will only get stronger as the season progresses.”

Notes: Ellis was more competitive than last year, when it lost by 23 in both meetings against South. … Ellis was 5-8 last year. … This is Brunelli’s fourth year coaching basketball at Ellis and his second stint with the girls. He coached the girls in 2007-08; he coached the boys in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

N. Davie 29, Wesleyan 19

Nadalie Jones came out smoking and sparked North Davie to a win over visiting Wesleyan Christian Academy in the Wildcats’ season opener on Jan. 14.

Jones’ seven quick points lifted North to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter. The Trojans regrouped and rallied, trailing 15-13 at halftime and 19-15 after the third.

But Kaylee Lynch made sure the Wildcats held on, scoring eight of North’s 10 points in the fourth. Her spree included 4-of-6 foul shooting.

It was an encouraging start for a team that’s suffered six losing seasons in seven years, including a 4-11 mark last year that saw Wesleyan whip North twice (38-4 and 35-21).

“With the little time we had to prepare for our first game, and knowing they had been practicing since November, I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” 23rd-year coach Trish King said. “I am fortunate to have five girls returning that played for me last year, so they already knew my system. Jones, Lynch, (Jaden) Sink, (Callie) Wisecarver and (Hannah) Meacham all returned with some pretty good knowledge of the game and some improvement since last year.”

Jones was the star with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Lynch had 10, while Sink and Wisecarver chipped in two apiece.

“Nadalie and Jaden run the floor and are pretty instrumental in setting up our shots,” King said. “Nadalie has a keen sense for the game and moves pretty well with and without the ball to get herself in scoring position. She can knock ‘em down from the 3-point line.

“Kaylee has improved quite a bit and plays with much more confidence this year. She probably had 12 rebounds along with her points.

“Callie is a big presence on the floor and will be good on the boards. Jaden is my Energizer Bunny and never stops playing 100 percent. She is running the point some and is my best defender. She will contribute in the offensive column, but will probably be more instrumental in setting up others for a shot or firing up our defense. As a captain, I am really depending on her a lot.

“Hannah will give us some quality time at the one and two guard positions and can be a scoring threat. Look for sixth-grader Avarie Martin to start shining as we get further into the season. I see a lot of potential for this young lady to be quite the player as she gets more comfortable on the court.”