Prep Basketball West Regional Final: West Charlotte 73, Davie 59

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2012

By David Shaw
GREENSBORO — Davie County put its first-class season in an upright-and-locked position Saturday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.
The War Eagles brought a year filled with milestones in for a landing when they fell 73-59 to reigning champion West Charlotte in the state 4A boys basketball semifinals.
“Only four teams are going to end the year with a win,” coach Mike Absher reasoned after Davie was purged from the playoffs. “And we’re not going to be one of them.”
The loss, witnessed by an enthusiastic, orange-clad fan base, capped a season worth remembering. Davie (23-7) ventured where no War Eagle squad had gone — setting a school record for victories, capturing its first CPC title and delving five rounds deep into postseason play.
“I’ve never had so much fun playing basketball as I did this year,” said guard Nate Jones, one of three Davie seniors who made their final start. “It’s tough to walk away. We put in all that work and just needed one more game.”
West Charlotte (26-5) advanced to next weekend’s state final in Raleigh, thanks largely to the play of regional MVP Kennedy Meeks and senior teammates Mark Blackmon and Mike Brown. Meeks — a 6-foot-9, 260-pound junior — is a low-post banger with a sweet shooting touch who hit 7 of 10 layup attempts, scored 14 points and snagged 15 rebounds.
“He had maybe 50 or 60 pounds on me,” said Davie’s Shannon Dillard, the 6-4 senior assigned to keep an eye on Meeks. “Pretty hard to guard that. I kept trying to push him out toward the free throw line, but he kept getting position inside.”
Absher was equally concerned about Meeks’ ability to distribute the ball.
“He’s such a good passer,” he said. “We were more concerned about him short-corner, high-post passing than keeping him off the glass. We knew he was going to catch-and-score some, but we wanted to keep him off the glass. That’s what really hurt us.”
If Meeks was the diesel, Brown was the guy with the keys. He spent the day dribble-driving and jump-shooting his way for 17 points, converting 8 of 9 shots from the floor. Blackmon, a hit-or-miss deep threat, was 5-for-21 from the field but drained four 3-pointers.
Davie, which never led, was paced by Jones, who shot 7-for-13 and netted a game-high 21 points. Dillard (8-for-13) added 16 in his final DC appearance. Absent from the leader’s board were sophomore twins Cody and Caleb Martin, who teamed for 16 points but shot poorly.
“Every time they made a run, we had an answer,” said winning coach Baronton Terry. “That was the key to the game. The other was to slow down (Jones), to wear him out. We figured the longer the game went, the harder it would be for him to finish.”
Jones didn’t take a shot until late in the first quarter, when he scored on a backdoor layup that trimmed WC’s lead to 15-10. He sank a couple of 3-balls in the second quarter, but Davie’s last field of the first half came with five minutes remaining.
“We all decided to come here and play defense,” said Meeks. “And we did.”
West Charlotte’s lead ballooned to 61-45 when Brown scored on a fastbreak layup early in the fourth quarter. Davie got within 11 points when Dillard rattled home a reverse jam with 1:22 to play, but no closer.
“Their guys, they’ve been here before,” Jones said before changing out of his uniform for the last time. “We’re making progress. What happened today will make next year’s team better. They saw stuff we didn’t get to see as sophomores and juniors. This was special for everyone.”
DAVIE (59) — Jones, 21, Dillard 16, Co.Martin 9, Ca.Martin 7, Tatum 6, Absher.
WEST CHARLOTTE (73) — Brown 17, Blackmon 15, Meeks 14, Foster 10, Byers 7, Harris 4, Yates 4, Williams 2, Mixson.
Davie 12 13 18 16 — 59
W. Char. 19 18 16 20 — 73