Moir Christmas Classic: South Rowan boys 68, Davie County 56
By Mike London
South Rowan guard Hunter Morrison dribbled for nearly a minute, from sideline to sideline, before depositing the basketball into the waiting arms of Dakota Walker like he was sticking a letter in a mailbox.
Walker made the layup.
“It’s defend, defend, defend, work like crazy, and then, boom, someone’s cutting and finishing a layup,” Davie County coach Mike Absher said. “Those long possessions tend to wear you out.”
Morrison’s 35 points staggered Davie and his eight assists knocked out the War Eagles in a first-round game in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic on Saturday.
Down 12 points in the second quarter, third-seeded South got even by halftime and dominated the second half for a 68-56 victory.
Reid Shaver added 13 points for South, while B.J. Grant had a terrific outing with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting and seven boards.
“We were playing terrible,” Morrison said. “Then we got some easy buckets off steals in the second quarter to get us going. We had all kinds of momentum at halftime, and we came out very strong in the third.”
Morrison’s career-high point total came on 11-for-16 field-goal shooting, 8-for-11 at the foul line and five 3s.
He matched the fourth-highest total in South history. Damien Argrett and Doug Daugherty share the school record with 40-point efforts, and John Lentz scored 37.
Morrison would have threatened the record, but he missed his last three free throws. South coach John Davis let his weary guard sit down for the final 50 seconds.
“I don’t know what else I can say about Hunter,” Davis said. “Heck of a player and knows how to play the game. I called him over in the first half and told him he was dribbling a tad too much, that if he was going to dribble, he needed to make something happen. He did. He started putting some passes on the money.”
South (6-4) overcame an ice-cold start. The Raiders were settling for 3-point attempts against Davie’s 2-3 zone, missed 13 of their first 14 tries from long range and dug a hole. When Jamal Mayfield, who led the War Eagles with 16 points, stuck in an offensive rebound with 3:38 remaining in the first half, sixth-seeded Davie (4-7) owned a 25-13 lead.
“Good start, but then we got really passive on offense and stopped attacking for some reason,” Absher said. “And defensively, we started breaking down. As good as Hunter is, he shouldn’t be getting into the paint continuously against a 2-3 zone.”
If one basket turned it, it was a baseline drive by Morrison and a no-look dish to Grant that stopped the bleeding and got the Raiders back within 10 points.
Then a flurry by Morrison ó a driving layup, a pass to Blake Houston for a layup, a 3-pointer and a scoop off a steal ó erased almost all of Davie’s lead. Shaver’s steal and layup made it 28-28 at halftime.
“My first warmup shot was an airball,” Shaver said. “It just took us a while to get used to the gym, I guess.”
Davie led 35-31 in the third quarter when things fell apart for good. Morrison provided an all-world 50 seconds, swishing two 3-pointers and finding Grant for a layup, and the Raiders were in front to stay.
South shot 70 percent in the second half, mostly layups off penetration by Morrison, while Davie shot 30 percent after the break.
“We showed a lot more patience and got layups,” Davis said. “Early on, we were making one pass and then jacking it up.”
South led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter and did a great job defensively against Drew Absher, Davie’s leading scorer, the coach’s son and a perennial whiz in the Moir tournament.
Shaver went after Absher with his muscle and jumping ability, and he had plenty of help when Davie tried to run Absher off screens. Absher, who has scored over 1,200 points, shot 3-for-15 from the floor and was limited to 13 points and five assists.
“Drew is the best, and he’s been a great player for four years,” Davis said. “But Reid did a good job on him and got great help when they set those high picks at the top. You have to make a shooter work, and we made Drew work until he got fatigued a little bit.”
DAVIE (56) ó Jamal Mayfield 16, Absher 13, Harris 10, James Mayfield 4, Dillard 4, Redmon 3, Taylor 2, Robertson 2, Neely 2 , Dulin.SOUTH (68) ó Morrison 35, Shaver 13, Grant 10, S. Johnson 3, Corriher 3, Houston 2, Walker 2, D. Johnson, Honeycutt, Huffman.
Davie 12 16 13 15 ó 56S. Rowan 11 17 25 15 ó 68