Davies Break Week, Challenger 2
For the second time this week, for the second time in a three days in fact, the Davies Eagles took the court against a fellow top five rated team in North Dakota class A high school Basketball.
On Tuesday night they got by the Sheyenne Mustang. Last night they returned home for senior night and to play the Football champion West Fargo Bulls. It was another game that closely mimicked a playoff atmosphere.
Unlike game one, the Eagles found themselves on the negative end of a team starting the game quickly on offense. Thanks in large part to the efforts of North Dakota Mr. Basketball candidate Joe Pistorius, West Fargo rolled out to a 46 - 33 first half lead.
Pistorius' 13 points were literally the difference in the game but his impact went well beyond the amount that he accounted for. Drawing fouls, setting up teammates, playing good defense and all the while making some gems of the facial expression variety. This is the third time that I've seen West Fargo this year and he's stood out in contest. Maybe those were his best games of the year but that seems too coincidental. So I'm going to say it again, he deserves to be in the conversation for Mr. Basketball. Not the only one by any means but certainly in the mix!
But back to the game
I have to give some credit to the Davies coaches off the top. Both games this week the Eagles came out of the locker room with a renewed focus or with the proper adjustments in mind. After clawing to a narrow halftime lead on Tuesday, Davies now found themselves with a 14 point deficit.
Against a team that showed such a propensity for hitting three point shots that could have been an early death knell for their one loss season. But that's where I give the coaches and the players immense credit. Not only did they storm back over the first five minutes of the second half, they played enough defense to help prevent West Fargo from scoring until nearly six minutes had elapsed.
I wondered whether the effort needed to not only get back in the game but also to eventually take the lead would be sustainable over the full 18 minutes. As far as I could tell, the defensive effort may have dropped off a little bit but was still "acceptable." Unfortunately the shots that fell early in the march back, stopped going down as the clock waned.
Add to that the fact that Pistorius was matched in both the box score and in the big shot making department by his teammate Abdi Sufi. Each finished with 22 points in the game and in ways that complimented each other while helping their entire team play better. That's about as good of a compliment as I can give for play on any level.
But even with the kind of games that they each had, the Eagles never truly faded from the fight. There was an odd usage of the clock for about 25 seconds of the final 90 that Davies coaches will have to answer for amongst themselves. More than that even, they'll have to put some special attention on late game clock management because their player did not seem to know what to do. In a playoff game where it's win or go home, those kind of mistakes can cost a championship.
And if it wasn't clear by now, make no mistake that each of these teams are title contenders! The totality of implications for this win/loss won't be known for a few weeks but West Fargo has to feel pretty good about itself, that it went into #1's house for the last game of the regular season and mostly dominated. But Davies also managed to eek out a victory from it. They failed to complete a one loss season but by losing under 13 points, they secured top seed in the EDC tournament anyway.
Moral victories are typically just spin but this is one instance where the losing team found a way to win. That all matters for the future though.
This is still about the most recent action. For the dynamic duo and all their teammates, it was a tremendous victory. A victory which prevented Davies from accomplishing a rare feat (a one loss season) but showed that they could be broken.
I for one cannot wait for the rematch! ... If both teams get that far.