Mooresville holds on, defeats Davie County in classic

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016

By Marny Hendrick

SALISBURY — Based on seeding, Wednesday morning’s 68-66 Mooresville win over Davie County will go down as an upset in the opening round of the Dale’s Sporting Goods/Sam Moir Christmas Classic.

Out on the floor at Catawba’s Goodman Gym, however, it was two evenly matched teams battling toe-to-toe for four full quarters. Neither team managed more than a six-point margin throughout and fittingly, it all came down to one final possession.

The sixth-seeded Blue Devils (5-5) pulled ahead of No. 3 Davie, 68-66, with 17.2 seconds left on a free throw by AJ Stewart. Davie (5-4) put the ball in the hands of their junior sharpshooter Cooper Wall. But as the final seconds ticked away, Wall’s off-balance 3-pointer against a double-team was off the mark. There was contact, but no whistle on the final play.

“We got the play we wanted, down two,” stated veteran War Eagle head coach Mike Absher. “But you are not going to get that call on that kind of shot at the end of the game … not going to happen. If you are attacking the basket or taking a balanced shot it might be different.”

Mooresville survived the tight battle thanks to the leadership of their senior point guard Noah Allen and some surprisingly clutch play by a pair of sophomore JV call-ups, Stewart and Griffin Wall.

“It was my job to make sure things didn’t get out of  control down the stretch,” said Allen, who had a balanced effort with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We tend to lose leads like that when it gets close, but you can’t let a couple of turnovers dictate the end of the game. I just had to get them together and calm them down because we are such a young team.”

Davie led by three, 36-33, at the half, after three ties and four lead changes. Three buckets, including a 3-pointer by Wall, had Davie up, 36-30, before Seth Welch hit a long trey for Mooresville.

The Blue Devils used a 10-point outburst by Welch (16 for the game) in the third period to go ahead, 54-53, then Treye Gunnings opened the final period with a long 3-point basket to put Mooresville up, 57-53.

The Mooresville lead was 65-61 with just 1:42 remaining when they went cold at the line, hitting just 1-of-6. That allowed Davie to get within one point twice in the final minute, but no closer.

“We feel very confident with our guards and the way they handle the ball,” said winning Mooresville coach Michael Micklow. “Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot our free throws like we normally do, but our guards played really well down the stretch.”

Micklow cited the leadership of Allen plus the play of the sophomore JV call-up White (15 points). Gunnings was also in double figures with 10 for the Blue Devils. Davie’s 6-7 center, Owen McCormack, led his team with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Wall followed with 13 points. Michael Walton scored 12 points and Cory Heiner had nine points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

Davie out-rebounded Mooresville, 36-28, and won the free-throw battle with 14-of-22, compared to 8-of-17 for the Blue Devils. But Mooresville won on the scoreboard and now moves to the semifinals today at 4:30 p.m. against the second-seeded Carson.

MOORESVILLE (68) — Welch 16, Allen 15, White 15, Gunnings 10, J. Davis 9, Stewart 3, Shipp, Elliott.

DAVIE COUNTY (66) — McCormack 14, Wall 13, Walton 12, Heiner 9, Slabach 7, Shoffner 4, Shepherd 3, Horton 2, Sell 2, Hendrix.

Mooresville     16    17    21  14 — 68

Davie Co.         17    19   17   13 — 66