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Boys hit Reagan with 32-4 run

When a good team gets hit in the mouth, it has to get back up and fight.

Davie’s varsity boys basketball team absorbed one in the chops at East Forsyth on Feb. 9, losing by 20. The first 13 minutes the next night at Reagan went no better.

But in the end, Davie was better by three miles, producing a 32-4 run to beat the Raiders 57-38 and clinching a winning season with one game to go.

The War Eagles couldn’t do anything right offensively in the beginning. They missed their first five field goals. They did not score until the 3:44 mark of the first quarter on a Zymere Hudson drive and kiss off the glass. The deficit with 2:35 left in the first half was 15-7. The grim shooting numbers at that point: 2 of 11 overall and 0 for 7 from the 3-point line.

“I said: ‘We have to win the next 2:35. We have to turn this game around right now before halftime. We can’t wait any longer,’” coach Mike Absher said. “Well, we did. Here we went.”

Indeed. Davie was absolutely brilliant the rest of the way. It scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to pull within 17-15. Included in the run was an Avery Taylor blocked shot, a Luke Williams 3-pointer, a deep trey by Za’Haree Maddox after his 0-for-3 start and a Blake Walser inside hoop.

Davie, though, started poorly in the third quarter, committing back-to-back turnovers. “I thought: ‘Gosh, did we lose (the momentum) that quick?’” Absher said. “We rallied and started playing better.”

That’s an understatement. The War Eagles shot the lights out from that point on and dropped a piano on Reagan’s head. Everything started with Maddox dribbling between his legs four times, driving and connecting on a teardrop for a 17-17 tie. Then Williams hit two free throws to give Davie its first lead of the night.

The numbers during the turnaround leap off the computer screen: 9 for 10 shooting in the third, a 32-4 barrage for a 39-19 lead and 21 points from the Maddox/Williams tandem in a span of 10:35. (By contrast, Reagan shot 1-16 in the third.)

After overtime losses to Reynolds and Glenn haunted Davie’s dreams of a top-two finish, it was playing for pride and a winning season over the final three games.

“We just wanted them to feel fortunate that they were able to play,” Absher said. “There’s still high school kids across the country who didn’t get to play their seasons or their seasons were cut even shorter. We tried to get them to embrace the games that are left.

“(A fourth straight winning season) is a great accomplishment considering everything we’ve been through with Covid and not having a spring and summer. To rally, come together and have a winning season, good for them.”

Williams became the centerpiece after a quiet start. He was 0 for 2 from the field through 11 minutes; he drained 6 of 8 shots after that to finish with a season-high 17. He buried three triples, grabbed four rebounds and handed out four assists.

“He’s been such an integral part of what we’ve done the last four years, and I was glad to see him play well tonight because he deserved that,” Absher said. “Nobody has worked any harder than him. To see some shots go in, see him get on the glass and distribute the ball … he also played well on defense. I couldn’t be happier for a kid.”

Maddox (12 points, three assists) and Jack Powers (11 points to match a season high, three assists) were driving forces. Powers came up big after arriving with a 4.5 average, making 4 of 7 field goals and 3 of 5 3s.

Powers has an unorthodox shot, but “when it leaves his hand, even with the little hitch he’s got, his elbow is always underneath the ball and his rotation is always good,” Absher said. “I mean, he’s a shooter. He’s just a good shooter, even if it is a little unorthodox. Some people probably don’t give him the credit he deserves. They probably don’t look at him as a shooter, but boy, he’s hitting some big ones right now.”

Hudson had six points and three assists as Davie improved to 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the Central Piedmont Conference. Walser was active off the bench with four points, two blocks, two steals, two rebounds and one assist. JT Bumgarner and Caleb Earnhardt had three points apiece. Justus Tatum had one point and five boards.

Notes

• The winless Raiders (0-7, 0-6) shot 28 percent (13-46) and lost to Davie for the ninth straight time.

• The day before, Davie visited a hungry East Forsyth. East had dropped its share of heartbreakers, losing four games by a total of 17 points (Glenn twice, Davie and Reynolds). But it exploded on Davie, winning 73-53 to avenge a 74-72 loss on Jan. 22.

“Twice they had Glenn on the ropes and couldn’t close it out,” Absher said of the 6-4, 4-4 Fighting Eagles. “They are legit. They really are. We didn’t play good and they played really well. I give them credit.”

• Maddox, who had pumped in 72 points across three games, went cold. His four points were his fewest in 17 games.

• This was the War Eagles’ worst loss in four seasons (84-61 at West Forsyth on Dec. 20, 2016).

• Powers buried three 3s and scored a team-high 11. Taylor (10) hit double figures for the third game in a row. Hudson had nine, Williams seven, Tatum six, Walser four and Alex Summers two.