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2012-13 Prep Basketball: Davie girls preview

By Brian Pitts
sports@salisburypost.com
MOCKSVILLE – Coach Denny Key’s massive reconstruction project was evident throughout last season as the Davie girls basketball team limped to 3-21. Almost nobody goes from where Davie was last year to where it wants to go in one year. So Davie will be a long shot to win the Central Piedmont Conference for the first time since ’03.
Still, there’s a different feeling in Key’s third year at the helm. Last year there were only eight players on the squad and only one dangerous scorer. This year’s team is revamped with 13 players, and competition abounds for playing time. Key will employ the sort of lineup you can envision pulling some upsets, giving people fits and winning double-figure games.
“Our problem last year was scoring points,” said Key, whose club was outscored 52.2 to 40.6 on average. “Our zone worked well as far as the first shot went. Then we got killed on the offensive boards. That was a lack of size.
“This year we’re bigger and more athletic. We’re going to be a year smarter. I think we’ll be a better rebounding team.”
Key has plenty of reasons to be positive about this year, and with only two seniors, the possibilities down the road are exciting. There are four juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.
“We went 3-0 last week in our scrimmage,” he said. “We didn’t play the toughest teams, but we played one tough team. Wilkes Central was state (2-A) runner-up last year. I’m sure they lost some people, but they were a good team.
“If we can keep people healthy, I think we can stand up to some teams that we couldn’t have stood up to last year. I just believe that we’ve got five, six or seven girls who are going to be better scorers than they were last year.”
Everything starts with senior guard Amy Steller. She is a proven commodity after averaging 15 points as a sophomore and 18.6 as a junior. At 926 career points, she is on the brink of joining the distinguished 1,000-point club. Barring injury, she will become the 10th member in the school’s 57-year history.
“Amy really hit a stride last year around Christmas, where if you didn’t do something special to defend her she was going to score some points,” Key said. “She started shooting a two-count jump shot with a good lift on her elbow.”
Steller was nearly 50 percent of Davie’s offense last year, when the War Eagles finished last in the CPC at 1-9. She put up two of the biggest scoring nights in history when she poured in 36 in back-to-back games. In the first one, a 61-54 win over Reagan, she hit 10 of 20 field goals and 15 of 18 free throws. The next game, a 60-46 loss to North Davidson, she converted 17 of 20 free throws.
“This summer before she got hurt, she looked smooth and looked in control of her game,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great year for her.”
Clearly a big reason for the team’s optimism is two transfers. Sophomore Haleigh Hatfield, the sister of highly-regarded junior twins Austin and Taylor Hatfield, moved over from Forsyth Country Day. Freshman Madison Zaferatos transferred from Central Davidson.
Both should play prominent roles. Hatfield can play inside and out.
“She’s obviously wanting to play college ball,” Key said. “She can hit the 3. She’s got a quick jump shot. She’s a good offensive rebounder. She’s got a lot of good tools. She’s a smart player. She’s aggressive.”
Zaferatos has a ton of potential at point guard. At times, Steller will run the one while Zaferatos moves to the two.
“Madison is pretty much a prototypical point guard who can score,” Key said. “She’s got most every skill that you need to be a point guard. We’re probably not quite up to her ability right now in terms of catching her passes. It’s the same way with Amy. Madison certainly gives us somebody else who can handle pressure, and she takes a lot of pressure off Amy.”
A lot hinges on the play of senior Sydney Wooten and junior Emeral Gadson. Last year Wooten provided a glimpse of her offensive ability when she delivered 14 points in one game and 21 in another. In the latter, she drained six 3-pointers.
“That was early on before she separated her shoulder,” Key said. “She’s the best passer on the team, and she’s the best defender on the team. Sydney knows where to be at all times.”
Gadson is an athletic inside player who pulled down double-figure rebounds on three occasions.
“She is playing some of the best basketball that I’ve seen her play,” he said. “She is probably the quickest kid. She is a lock-down defender. She can do a lot for us.”
Key has high hopes for sophomore Asiah Peterson, who controlled seven or more rebounds in nine games as a freshman. “She is better in all aspects of her game,” he said.
Peterson and junior Anne-Marie Jones have both made significant strides.
“They’re both very athletic,” he said. “They’re strong enough to play against bigger people and be effective.”
The coach is confident that sophomore McKayla Bohannon, who is among six varsity returners, will help significantly.
“McKayla has looked very good,” he said. “She’s a very smart player. She knows where to be at all times. She’s one of our quickest players. She hustles like crazy.”
Like Zaferatos, Aubriana Peebles is an immense freshman talent. She could find herself playing major minutes in the paint.
“Aubriana has been a great surprise,” he said. “She is super athletic. She is very coachable. She learns very quickly. She’s going to really press some of these veterans for time on the floor. She can fly down the court.”
Junior guards Ashton Brown and Courtney Bode are in the hunt for PT after leading the jayvee to 15-5. They led the JV with 11 and 10.4 scoring averages, respectively.
“They played well in our scrimmage last week, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do,” he said.
Freshmen Caitlyn Peebles and Ruby Dennard will provide depth. “I think they’re both outstanding prospects,” he said. “I’m hoping they work themselves into playing time.”The War Eagles are starving for success. TKey, who has been working the sidelines since 1970, is determined to get the program clicking.
“I’ve put more time and work into this season than I’ve put into any season anywhere at any time,” he said. “I love my teaching job here, I love coaching here and this is very, very important to me. I’m going to give it as good an effort as I can possibly give it.”

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