Prep Basketball Preview: Davie County boys

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 24, 2008

By Brian Pitts
MOCKSVILLE ó Mike Absher will always remember how his Davie County boys pulled together, turned heads an overachieved with records of 13-13 overall and 5-5 in the CPC. The War Eagles then came within three points of advancing to the second round of the 4A playoffs.
That team was not loaded with talent, but it believed in what Absher was selling and overcame physical shortcomings with intangibles.
This year’s team won’t overwhelm many people with pure talent, either. Everything will center on being tough and playing smart. Will they believe like last year? If they don’t, there might be problems matching the .500 record.
“We’ve got a lot of youth,” said Absher, entering his seventh season at Davie and 16th overall. “Chemistry is a key. It’s a close-knit group. They’re going to have to play well together. They’re going to have to be fundamentally sound. They’re going to have to play harder than their opponents. We’ve talked to them about being tough mentally and physically. Because, when we take the court, we’re not going to intimidate people. We’ve really stressed defense. We’ve stressed taking care of the ball and rebounding.”
The varsity includes Absher’s son Drew as well as James Mayfield, Landon Harris, Alex Marion, Joey Taylor and Jacob Robertson; junior Jamal Mayfield; sophomores David Stanley, Justin Minor, Blake Simmons and Lake Slabach; and freshmen Shannon Dillard, Kentrell Ray and Davis Absher.
The undisputed star is Drew Absher, a fourth-year starter and a rock-solid combo guard. He averaged 8.4 points as a freshman, 16.3 as a sophomore and 18 as a junior. With 1,078 career points, the lefty with parking-lot range is already the school’s No. 5 scorer of all-time.
Barring injury, Absher will crack the top three. He could surge to the top in career 3-pointers. He has 194, just 54 from Sean Stevens’ mark of 248 (1999-2002).
Marion is entrenched at the guard spot opposite Absher.
“Drew and Alex are interchangeable,” Mike Absher said. “Drew’s going to score. We’re going to have to put points together through Harris, Dillard, Marion and James Mayfield. Taylor is going to have to step up more.”
Absher sees Dillard and Harris as key pieces, but both are sidelined with injuries.
“We’ve got two injuries holding us back a little bit,” Absher said. “Landon is still recovering from a torn ligament in his ankle. But he’s close to getting back. He will play (underneath).”
The 6-3 Dillard, out with a knee injury, is a prized freshman. He should begin playing in the middle of December. That would be great news for Absher because Davie isn’t the biggest team with him. So that says something about his importance.
“Shannon has a fracture in his knee,” Absher said. “He could be out a month from now. I hate that for him. He had a really good first week. There was a chance he may have torn his ACL, so it could’ve been worse. He’s an unbelievable jumper. He’s a quick jumper who blocks a lot of shots. He played enough this summer to get a feel for varsity.”
The trade-off has been increased exposure for Taylor and Minor.
“The good thing about that is it’s making other guys step up, and hopefully that will create some depth inside,” Absher said. “Taylor has had to step it up. Taylor and Minor are two (centers) right now. An injury is obviously not a good thing, but you’ve got to make it a positive for others.”
Absher has a big rebuilding chore after losing three starters from last year. Center Darius Hall averaged 11.7 points and eight rebounds, point guard Eric Lowery averaged eight points and 6.4 assists and swingman Matt Van Hoy averaged 7.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.
It’s difficult to know what to expect when Drew Absher is the only returner who averaged serious points. James Mayfield scored 5.6 points and 6.4 rebounds. Harris scored just 3.8 points per game. Marion didn’t score much but did appear in 23 games.
The revamped attack could involve Robertson and Jamal Mayfield, who put the jayvees on his back in the second half of the season.
“Jacob has had a pretty good preseason,” Mike Absher said. “Jamal has brought energy.”
The War Eagles are mostly a work in progress.
Absher will use a number of players who are untested on the varsity level. Another reason they will have challenges galore is CPC rivals Mount Tabor, West Forsyth and Reynolds always have plenty of talent. North Forsyth has overstocked itself with talent.
Another .500 season for Davie would be reason for a parade. The quest is going to be a steep hill to climb, but Absher has been under the radar before.
Remember last season?
“I think we can surprise some people,” he said. “I’m excited. We’ve had a lot of guys who have done a lot in the offseason. They’ve really worked hard to make themselves better.”