Moir Christmas Classic: Davie County boys move on to title game

Published 11:42 pm Friday, December 28, 2018

By David Shaw

SALISBURY — The rest of the Christmas Tournament field can hear Davie County knocking on the door — but no one wants to answer it.

Now unbeaten in eight games, the top-seeded War Eagles are back in the championship game after thrashing North Stanly, 76-55, in a Friday night semifinal.

“This thing has been pretty good to us over the years,” coach Mike Absher said at Goodman Gym, where Davie earned its first trip to the finals since 2012. “These guys had a goal this year. They wanted to play for the title and win it. Now we’re there and we’d like to compete tomorrow night at our highest level and see what happens.”

Davie will face third-seeded Salisbury in tonight’s 8 p.m. final, after squelching a North Stanly rally that consumed the entire third quarter and much of the fourth. The War Eagles had a 27-point lead reduced to 60-51 when Bryson Childress navigated the right side on dribble-drive layup with 5:48 to play.

“I think we got too comfortable with our lead and lost our focus,” said Owen McCormick, Davie’s 6-foot-9 post player. “At the same time, their intensity picked up and they started getting after it.”

North Stanly (4-4), the tournament’s No. 5 seed, will square off against North Rowan for third place in today’s consolation game at 4:30. The Comets fell behind, 16-4, in the opening six minutes and trailed, 48-23, at halftime.

“We thought we played as bad as we can possibly play in the first half,” said Comets’ Paul Childress. “And they played as well as they could have. We communicated terribly. More than once, we had two defenders running into one shooter. Nobody knew who they were guarding — and we never matched up with the right shooter.”

Davie had a small cadre of them. It knocked down 10 3-pointers in the first half, including successive long balls by Michael Walton, Jacob Hendrix and Hendrix again that produced a 33-9 lead, early in the second period. Then McCormick connected on back-to-back 3-balls with three minutes remaining in the half.

“Offensively, we moved the ball really well and had a ton of open shots,” Absher said. “We made a lot of threes. That’s been our thing the last four games. We’ve got several guys who can shoot it.”

Davie placed five scorers in double figures, led by Hendrix (18 points), McCormick (17) and junior Brooks Johnson (15). Childress paced North Stanly with 18, while Carson Lowder contributed 17 and 6-7 senior Nalik Veasley had 11.

The Comets played a strong third quarter and closed to within 58-45 on a last-second basket by Lowder. Within three minutes of the final period, the deficit was down to single digits.

“We let up a little bit,” said Hendrix. “We needed to find our focus again. We weren’t going to lose this game. Down the stretch, when we needed baskets, we slowed down, moved the ball and made sure we scored.”

With Davie nursing a 63-53 lead midway through the fourth quarter, McCormick muscled inside for an offensive rebound and hit a pivotal stick-back. “That time they didn’t find me and I went up strong,” he said.

Seconds later, he threaded a no-look pass down the lane that Johnson pushed through the rim for a 14-point edge. “They were playing up on us, trying to make us frazzled,” McCormick said. “Brooks made a great cut and I got the ball to him. It’s all part of a motion offense.”

For their next trick, Davie will try to make Salisbury (7-2) disappear. The Hornets advanced with a hotly contested semifinal win against previously undefeated North Rowan, the tournament’s No. 2  seed.

“That’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Absher. “We’ll get together (today) and come up with a game plan, then go out and do our best.”

NOTES: Davie finished with 12 3-point baskets. But for all the fireworks it provides, its defense yields only 47.4 points-per game. The War Eagles have won the tournament five times. …. Salisbury dropped a 67-65 decision to Carson in last year’s championship game.

NORTH STANLY (55) — Childress 18, Lowder 17, Veasley 11, Clark 4, Poole 4, Hogan 1, Watkins, Bell, Hunt, Smith.

DAVIE COUNTY (76) — Hendrix 18, McCormick 17, Johnson 15, Walton 12, Griggs 12, Wilson 2, Chamberlain, Ratledge, Smith, Bohannon, Redmon.

North Stanly        7    16    22    10 — 55

Davie County    24   24    10    18 — 76