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SALISBURY — Davie County senior Peyton Sell is talented enough to play college basketball, but when his acceptance letter arrived from N.C. State, he began focusing his attention on a future as an engineer.
Sell’s maturity showed on Friday in a Moir consolation game. His shot wasn’t falling early, so he turned his attention to rebounding.
He pulled down 14 boards to lead seventh-seeded Davie to a 62-56 victory against sixth-seeded East Rowan, and once Sell stopped trying so hard to carry his team offensively, his shots started dropping as a bonus. He finished with 18 points.
“I’ve been in a little shooting slump,” said Sell, who drilled nine 3s and scored 42 points against North Davidson on Dec. 13. “As a captain, I’ve got to do something else to try to help us win. Rebounding is what we needed today.”
Davie is a 4A team with 1A height. Sell at 6-foot-2 is the best rebounder, but the War Eagles smashed East 45-33 on the glass and by 16-11 in offensive boards.
“How we can get more rebounds than Carson one day and then get outrebounded by Davie County blows my mind,” East coach Trey Ledbetter said. “We’ve just to suck it up and we’ve got to grow up.”
Davie coach Mike Absher piloted studs to the Moir title in 2012. Davie was so talented that Sell was the sixth man. This time around, Absher cherishes each victory. Davie (2-9) is not favored against anyone and had lost eight in a row.
“It’s tough to walk into a gym at 1:30 with a small crowd and play well, so I knew a lot of this game would be mental,” Absher said. “I thought our guys played really hard. We got the loose balls and we got the long rebounds we haven’t been getting, and Peyton was a beast on the back side of our zone.”
Swift guard Donte Means carried East (3-8), scoring 18 points and doing his best to get Naquis Caldwell going with slick passes. Most of Means’ six assists set up Caldwell, but Caldwell settled for 10 points after outings of 25 and 27.
The first half was sluggish. Davie shot 31 percent and turned it over 12 times, so the War Eagles were very fortunate to trail 25-23.
Sell’s lefty drive put Davie ahead 47-44 going to the final quarter. East’s last lead came on a steal and driving layup by Samuel Wyrick for a 53-51 edge with 2:35 left, but clutch free throws by Blaise Bennett, Holden Poole and Nic Starnes put Davie on top 55-53, and when Means missed his patented runner in the lane with 27 seconds left on the clock, East was in trouble.
East turnovers and Jordan McDaniel free throws sealed it for DC.
“We turned it over, we had mental mistakes and we just didn’t rebound,” Ledbetter said. “Davie wanted to win it more than we did.”
DAVIE CO. (62) — Sell 18, Starnes 11, McDaniel 11, Poole 8, Bennett 7, Slabach 3, Calamarino 2, Mua 2, Miller, Redmond.
EAST ROWAN (56) — Means 18, Caldwell 10, Sa. Wyrick 7, Love 7, Wyse 5, Moses 4, Se. Wyrick 3, Soles 2, Bell.
Davie Co. 14 9 24 15 — 62
E. Rowan 13 12 19 12 — 56

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