Moir Christmas Classic semifinal: Davie boys 70, West Rowan 66
By Mike London
SALISBURY — With leading scorer Nate Jones serving a suspension on Wednesday and with Caleb Martin suffering an ankle sprain, Davie County’s star power was cut in half.
That made a semifinal matchup with West Rowan a 32-minute gut check, but the War Eagles rode Cody Martin’s 22-point first half and Shannon Dillard’s climb-on-my-back, 16-point fourth quarter to a wild 70-66 victory.
Top seed Davie plays No. 2 North Rowan tonight at 8 p.m. for the championship.
“They got the ball to their senior (Dillard) down the stretch, and he played well,” disappointed West coach Mike Gurley said. “Our effort, emotionally and physically was 110 percent, but we had some defensive lapses.”
Keshun Sherrill struggled with his jumper at the start and finish, but in between he accounted for 28 points and gave the Falcons (6-5) a chance to win.
“The shots just wouldn’t fall there at the end,” Sherrill said. “I attacked, got into the lane, tried to draw contact, but the shots just didn’t fall.”
It was more a case of what Davie (10-1) did right than what the Falcons did wrong. West turned the ball over just four times, shot 90 percent from the line and battled evenly on the glass.
With its full roster, Davie had whacked West 74-63 in Mount Ulla and romped 90-69 in Mocksville, but playing two key men down, it felt like the War Eagles were the underdogs in a packed, frenzied Goodman Gym.
Jones and the injured Martin average 42 points per game between them, so Davie was seriously shorthanded.
“I just told our guys that good teams still find ways to win games like this,” Davie coach Mike Absher said.
Absher’s point guard son, Davis, was a big part of it. The War Eagles made just two second-half turnovers against some tough pressure by West.
“I was concerned,” Coach Absher said. “We’d watched their pressure really cause problems for Salisbury.”
Davie also got a strong game from Kenyon Tatum. Normally the sixth man, he moved into the starting lineup and led all rebounders with 13.
And Peyton Sell might be signing autographs the rest of his life. Sell had scored 21 points all season, but he had 14 against West, with three 3-pointers. In the third quarter, with Davie reeling, it was Sell who kept them in the fight.
“No. 30 (Sell) really came in and hurt us,” Sherrill said. “He made some clutch 3s, and we just didn’t expect him to shoot the ball like that.”
West missed 11 of its first 13 shots to fall behind 14-5, but a jumper by Sherrill and a 3-pointer by Alexis Archie cut the deficit to 14-10 after a quarter.
Cody Martin lit up the Falcons for four 3s in the second quarter, but that was the only offense Davie had.
“We just kept letting him get the ball in his shooting spot,” Sherrill said. “That’s really why we lost this game. Just not enough defensive stops.”
West took a 33-31 lead to the locker room after a bucket by Jarvis Morgan.
A dunk by Morgan put the Falcons on top 40-35 early in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer and a 3-point play by Sell rescued the War Eagles.
When West’s shooting specialist Seth Martin swished back-to-back 3s — the second one from deep in the left corner off one foot — the Falcons led 60-56 with 4:05 to go.
West had a chance for a defensive board a few seconds later. Instead, Dillard snatched it and stuck it back in. That board proved pivotal.
Sells hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left to put Davie ahead to stay, and Dillard took over from there. Davie went to him repeatedly, and he was money on spinning bank shots and at the foul line.
“He was just shooting over Maurice (Warren),” Sherrill said. “Maurice was doing everything defensively he could do, all anyone could have done. Sometimes guys just make the shots.”
Jack Gallagher’s 3-pointer with 13 seconds left cut Davie’s lead to 68-66.
Dillard was going for a dunk when he was intentionally fouled with 6.3 seconds left. He made one free throw. Then Tatum made another one to clinch it.
WEST ROWAN (66) — Sherrill 28, J. Morgan 12, S. Martin 9, Archie 6, Parks 6, Gallagher 3, T. Morgan 2, Warren, Cuthbertson, Blackwood, Reddick, Long, Tucker, Hassard.
DAVIE COUNTY (70) — Dillard 26, Co, Martin 23, Sell 14, Tatum 7, Ca. Martin, Absher, Miller, Beeson.
W. Rowan 10 23 17 16 — 66
Davie 14 17 17 22 — 70