Tournament gives Davie boys a boost

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 29, 2013

Moir notebook …
Davie County’s boys limped into the Sam Moir Christmas Classic with a 1-8 record, seven straight losses and not much hope as they faced a long January and February in the 4A Central Piedmont Conference.
But they exited the tournament 3-9 and feeling optimistic after a well-played, first-round loss against West Rowan and consolation victories against East Rowan and Salisbury.
“This tournament was pretty big for us,” said guard Nic Starnes, who careered with 20 points and six assists in the fifth-place game win against Salisbury. “Striving forward, these games are really going to help our confidence level.”
Davie did what it has to do to compete — make almost every free throw, make almost every layup and box out on the boards to compensate for a lack of height.
East coach Trey Lebetter said it best: “I don’t know how many times Davie is going to have a chance in their 4A league, but they knew they had a chance for some wins here, and they just played harder than we did.”
Davie out-boarded three straight opponents. Davie got 28 rebounds from Peyton Sell and 22 from Blaise Bennett. Bennett also had eight steals.
Davie also went a terrific 52-for-62 at the foul line (almost 84 percent).
Davie’s Jordan McDaniel shot well all three games. He was 7-for-9 on 3s for the tournament.
Sell, who came in averaging 21.6 points a game, didn’t have any offensive outbursts, but he still scored in double figures all three games, and he got a lot of scoring help from McDaniel, Starnes, Bennett, Holden Poole and Heath Slabach. Davie had five men in double figures as it scored a season-high 86 against the Hornets.

WHO’S ON THIRD? West Rowan’s boys had a positive tournament, winning twice for the first time since 2007.
West lost to Carson in a semifinal but had wins against Davie and South Rowan and finished third.
West managed to win twice despite shooting under 39 percent in all three outings and shooting 21.5 percent on 54 3-point attempts in the tournament.
That means the Falcons played some defense. It also meant voters had a tough call. The third-place team almost always has a representative on the all-tournament team, but there was no obvious standout.
Devin Parks got the nod over defensive-minded Najee Tucker. Parks scored 43 points in the tournament to lead the Falcons and was in double figures every game. He shot only 33 percent from the field for the tournament but he compensated for that with accurate 10-for-11 foul shooting.
Devin’s brother, Kevin, the Virginia running back and former West football star, was at the tournament and got to see his brother honored.

NORTH OUTLOOK: North’s Michael Connor and Michael Bowman played against a Nick Houston-led Carson team as freshmen when the Cavaliers and Cougars met for third place in the 2010 Moir. North had not run into Carson since then.
Both Michaels played like veterans against Carson in their final Moir. MVP Bowman had 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists and shot 8-for-11 from the field in a 70-50 win. Connor’s 17 points came on 6-for-12 from the field and 5-for-7 at the foul line. He had three rebounds and was North’s other MVP candidate.
As the No. 1 seed, North only played two games in the tournament. Connor scored 16 in the semis against South, while Bowman had 11.
Sophomore Jalen Sanders also was all-tournament. He scored 14 against South and had 11 against Carson. Sanders was pretty huge in the Carson game, as his early outside bombs set the tone for a confident shooting night. North shot 52 percent, and while the Cavaliers only attempted nine 3s, they made four. Sanders hit two, and Bowman and Josh Handy made one apiece.
Coach Andrew Mitchell said the Cavaliers had been treated to an IHOP breakfast the day of the championship.
“Everyone wanted to say thanks,” Mitchell said. “But we told them to save their thanks for the court.”
They did. Coupled with the romp by the North girls, the Cavaliers swept the event for the first time.
North want get to rest on its laurels. League play starts Friday at home against a Lexington team that may furnish North’s best CCC competition, and North goes to always strong Winston-Salem Prep on Saturday.
“That’s a very tough back-to-back,” Mitchell said.

CARSON IS COMING: Carson’s boys made history by reaching the championship game for the first time, but the Cougars have been a good team — and a good Moir team — for a while. Carson has beaten every team in the county in the Moir, including a win over North in the Cougars’ Moir debut in 2006.
Even with Saturday’s loss to North, Carson is 16-3 in its last 19 games against Rowan opponents, and Carson has gone 2-1 in each of the last three Moirs.
Carson senior Tre Williams had 48 points, 20 rebounds and in the Moir for all-tournament honors. He has 984 career points. Carson senior Colton Laws had 57 points and 21 rebounds in the Moir and also made all-tournament.
“Ronz Award” winner MyQuon Stout, just reporting in from the Shrine Bowl, had 32 rebounds.
“It was an adjustment getting back to basketball, especially playing on the longer floor here,” Stout said. “After two times down the court, I was like, wooh, this is going to be tough.”
The Cougars struggled from the 3-point line in the tournament, and that’s not unusual. The shooting background is different in a college gym. Carson was 5-for-30 from long range.

OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE: The Salisbury, South Rowan and East Rowan boys teams exited the Moir the way you don’t want to leave it — with two-game losing streaks.
Salisbury (0-2) and South (1-2) both finished the tournament shorthanded due to some disciplinary matters, and East (0-2) just didn’t finish well in its two outings.
All three teams figure to be competitive in most of their league games if they click. South has to be pleased with the progress of Lavon Hill, and Salisbury saw good things Saturday from Jeryon Davis and K.J. Wilson. East saw enough from newcomer Naquis Caldwell, a recent transfer from North, to believe he’s going to give the Mustangs a great 1-2 punch with Donte Means.
“We’ve actually got a pretty favorable schedule coming up as far as our conference,” East’s Ledbetter said. “We wanted to get some momentum here. That didn’t happen, so now we have to regroup.”

GIRLS ALL-TOURNAMENT: North girls coach Brian Lytton coached his first Moir title team. His father Jack coached West’s boys to titles in 1984 and 1989.
The guidelines for the girls all-tournament team are three from the champion, two from the runner-up and one from the third-place team.
North’s Nycieko Dixon and Brielle Blaire were obviously all-tournament, with the only question being which was MVP. It was a split vote between Dixon, who played on West’s title team in 2012 and Blaire, who led Salisbury to the Moir title in 2011 and also played for the Hornets’ championship team in 2010.
The argument for Dixon was that she played consistently strong games. She scored 15, 14 and 18 and she shot a solid percentage. She was outstanding from the 3-point line — 7-for-12, including 3-for-4 in the 71-40 title-game victory against East Rowan. Dixon also had 11 steals and seven assists.
Blaire missed three straight double-doubles by one rebound, and the reason she was a rebound short was because she only played 17 minutes in the first-round blowout of West Rowan.
She finished with 39 points and 29 rebounds and turned it on for the first half of the championship game. She dominated the first 16 minutes against East as North took charge. That was the best argument for her. It did hurt Blaire’s MVP case some that she was 0-for-6 on free throws in the final, but she still had 17 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, two assists and zero turnovers in 23 minutes.
Senior Demeria Robinson makes North go in a lot of ways, and she deserved all-tournament accolades after putting up 37 points, 13 assists and 10 steals. She had seven assists in the championship game alone.
Ashley Blaire didn’t make all-tournament but turned in two good games and one stellar one. She stuffed the stat-sheet for 14 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists in the final.
If North’s steal numbers look amazing, it’s because they were. North forced 70 turnovers in three games while committing only 29. North had 46 steals.

EAST OUTLOOK: East was represented on the all-tournament team by Karleigh Wike, who had nine points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in the title game, and Kelli Fisher, who had nine points and eight rebounds in the final. Wike had 19 and 19 in the semifinal win against Salisbury, while Fisher produced 15 and seven.
East guard Jocelyn Lowe was voted the first “Ronz Award” winner for her hustle and sportsmanship.
Despite being overwhelmed by North, East remains a clear-cut favorite to win the SPC. There’s no obvious challenger, although Central Cabarrus has a pretty talented young team.

DAVIE DOES IT: Davie’s girls were seeded sixth because they were 3-5, but the feeling going in was that the War Eagles probably were the third-best team, and now you can make an argument that they were the second-best team. Davie played North closer than East did and Davie beat Salisbury a lot more easily than East did, so maybe Davie would’ve beaten East if they had met.
Davie’s all-tournament representative was Aubrianna Peebles, mostly because she was tremendous in the third-place game with Salisbury, scoring 23 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. It was a great comeback by Peebles, who had to sit out Davie’s opening tournament game as the second game of a two-game suspension.
Davie freshman Ashlyn Hampton played well in all three games (29 points, 22 rebounds) and when Davie gets Ivey Carney (concussion) back, it’s going to be a solid team. Good in the CPC, however, probably is going to mean only fourth or fifth place.

THE REST: Salisbury beat Carson for the third time before losing to East and Davie. The young Hornets have exceeded expectations, but CCC play is going to be a challenge. Thomasville, Lexington and East Davidson are all very strong, and, obviously, North Rowan is going to be a handful.
Without Avery Locklear, South went 0-2, playing one dismal game and one competitive one. The good news is Locklear isn’t going to need surgery and she could return ahead of the 4-6 week absence that was projected for the county’s leading scorer.
West went 1-2, beating South and losing to North and Carson. The positives were a big game by Quanice Miller and a big game by Taylor Martin. Sophomore Khaila Hall, who scored 41 points in the tournament, is an exciting player. West just has to give her some consistent help and it can win its share in the SPC.
Carson went 1-1 and Megan Gray looks like she could give Alex Allen and Kate Cole some scoring assistance. The Cougars have no size, but they do the little things right, and they’re on a three-game SPC winning streak.