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Dale’s/Moir Christmas Classic: Davie prevails in boys 3rd-place game

By Marny Hendrick

sports@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Upstart East Rowan tried to play spoiler yet again Saturday afternoon against defending champion Davie County in the Dale’s/Sam Moir Christmas Classic.

But the War Eagles had too much firepower and claimed a 77-68 win for third place in the boys’ division.

The Mustangs came into this year’s 48th annual event as the 8th seed, but shocked the world with a big win over top-seeded North Rowan. A loss to Salisbury in Friday’s semifinal, then yesterday’s setback to Davie, took some of the luster off the big upset, but interim head coach Trey Ledbetter still felt his team represented well in the tournament,

“I wanted to build a little bit more off our big win Thursday,” Ledbetter said, “but we have some positives to look back on. Our effort was not very good in the first half against Davie but our effort in the second half was fantastic. I told the team at the half to give me a little more and give yourself a little more and the outcome can change.”

East (2-11) fell behind the hot-shooting War Eagles by 11 points at halftime but played on even terms the rest of the way. There was just too much ground to make up.

“We’re not a team that that can play from behind,” Ledbetter said. “Our offense is geared to play from ahead because we are a decent shooting team that can hold a lead.”

The War Eagles (8-3) got some significant scoring from some unexpected sources against East as junior wing Luke Williams came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points, while guard ZaHaree Maddox added 22 more, mostly with deadly foul shooting, especially in the second half.

“I really work hard all the time to improve my game,” said Williams. “So I know I have to be ready when I get my chance. My teammates found me and I was able to convert.” The 6-0 shooter hit four threes in the game including two in the first half as Davie built a lead then two more daggers midway in the fourth period to expand the lead to 15, at 68-53.

Maddox then converted 5-of-8 foul shots in crunch time to hold East at bay.

“I was really proud of our guys,” said veteran War Eagles head coach Mike Absher. “We got off to a good start and played well with a lot of effort and energy.”

As for the breakout scoring night by Williams, Absher was quick to point out the balance of his team.

“We have a lot of different guys that can play and fortunately a different one steps up every game,” Absher said. “Tonight, it was Luke coming through.”

Actually, the War Eagles showed a lot of team depth in the contest, playing 13 guys with eight contributing to the scoring. Top scorer Brooks Johnson drew a lot of attention from the Mustang defense but still managed 12 points.

East stayed in the hunt, thanks to nine 3-pointers: Five by junior Gavin Sprinkle and three by freshman Dylan Valley. Sprinkle led the Mustangs with 17 points while forwards David Jordan and Cameron Padgett scored 10 each. Valley and Vincent Jones scored nine points each.

The Mustangs were hampered by foul issues, committing 19 infractions and allowing the War Eagles to parade to the line 33 times. They converted 21 of the free shots compared to 8-of-11 for East.

EAST ROWAN (68) — Sprinkle 17, Jordan 10, Padgett 10, Jones 9, Valley 9, Hunter 7, Pinckney 3, Shuping 2, Miller.

DAVIE COUNTY (77) — Williams 22, Maddox 22, Johnson 12, Reid 8, King 5, Summers 3, Redmon 3, Spillman 2, Hudson, James, Tayloe, Smith, Tatum.

East Rowan          7   21   18   22 — 68

Davie County     10   29   16   22 — 77

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