Prep Basketball: Davie boys 74, West Rowan 61
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan may be a work in progress, but here’s the good news — it never stopped working in its season-opener.
The Falcons, with a grand total of one full-team practice under its belt, gave visiting Davie County a run for its money in a 74-63 loss Tuesday night.
“I think the positive we take out of this is we see what what we can be,” coach Mike Gurley said after a throat-shredding season debut. “And what we can be is a really hard-nosed, blue-collar basketball team that’s gonna contest all your shots and just try to outplay you.”
West never led against Davie (3-1), but it brought the crowd to a fever pitch when it inched within 64-61 in the closing minutes. “Even as close as it got,” said DC coach Mike Absher, “I don’t think we ever lost focus.”
The War Eagles can thank seniors Nate Jones (29 points) and Shannon Dillard (24 points) for that. Jones had 17 in the first half when Davie carved out a 33-23 edge. Later he sank a pair of clutch free throws and scored on runaway layup as the guests used a 10-0 finishing kick to pull away.
“They were playing us hard and we got a little out-of-control toward the end,” he said. “But when it counted we brought it back in.”
Dillard, a 6-foot-4 forward with a mean streak, had 20 points in the second half and a couple rim-rattling dunks in the fourth quarter.
“We just had to execute at the end of the game,” he said nonchalantly. “To win it we had to score and box out. It we hadn’t boxed out they might have come back on us.”
That didn’t seem likely after Dillard’s layup gave Davie a 49-35 lead late in the third period. “We were just trying to be competitive with a good team,” senior Keshun Sherrill said after netting 28 points. “With only one practice, that was our focus. But if you keep working you never know what’s gonna happen at the end of the game.”
The surprises began when Devin Parks nailed a 3-pointer from the right side that drew West within 61-50 with 4:15 remaining. Then Sherrill made back-to-back baskets — first on a jump-layup and then a putback — and it was 61-54.
“We tried to focus on Keshun,” Absher said. “We did all right overall, but in the fourth quarter we couldn’t keep him off the glass.”
Another quick spurt helped the Falcons pull within 64-61 when Seth Martin squared up and knocked down a 3-ball from the right corner with 1:56 to play. A turnover then gave West a chance to inch closer, but an errant pass gave possession back to Davie.
“That was it,” said teammate Daisean Reddick. “It was our time, time to gain some confidence.”
“It would have been nice,” added Gurley. “I would have loved to have had a shot. And that play was all coaching because we’ve only had about 95 minutes of practice and we haven’t gotten to our out-of-bounds play.”
Davie, which battled foul trouble all evening, found enough fuel in its tank to pull away in the last two minutes.
“That’s a good win for us,” Absher said. “It’s a tough place to play. I’ve been coming here for 10 years and it’s never been easy.”
This was the first of nine games West will play before Christmas. “We can’t jump ahead of ourselves,” Sherrill said. “All the things wrong with us are things we can work on in practice. But still, this is what happens when you play West Rowan. We make things interesting.”
NOTES: Both teams return to action tonight — Davie at Alexander Central and West against Lake Norman — before staging a rematch Friday night in Mocksville.
DAVIE (74) — Jones 29, Dillard 24, Ca.Martin 6, Co.Martin 5, Miller 5, Tatum 3, Absher 2.
WEST ROWAN (63) — Sherrill 28, Reddick 9, Martin 8, Parks 7, Tucker 5, T.Morgan 4, Archie 2, Warren, Cuthbertson, Blackwood, Gallagher.
Davie 16 17 16 25 — 74
W. Rowan 9 14 14 26 — 63