Durham Academy’s girls needed all hands on deck to go up against undefeated Raleigh Ravenscroft Friday night. Instead, the Cavaliers were a few mates short, including one of their main stars, which limited their firepower to hang with the tough Ravens in a 58-41 loss.
The matchup was a battle of the unbeatens for sole possession of first place in the Triangle Independent Sports Athletic Conference.
Junior guard Cha’Mia Rothwell – who had been averaging 14.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game, and who recently joined the 1,000-point club – sprained her ankle in the fourth quarter of a Jan. 27 win over North Raleigh Christian. Rothwell had scored 24 points in the contest to help DA overcome a one-point halftime deficit and win its sixth straight game.
“It’s a big loss, and she’s hard to replace, but we’re going to get her back,” said Cavaliers coach Krista Gingrich, although she couldn’t say when Rothwell would return.
Gingrich is starting two juniors, two freshmen and eighth-grader Imani Spence.
“Right now we are down to six varsity players and it’s hard, but we are going to play as hard as we can,” she said.
After two early lead changes, Ravenscroft began to take control behind senior forward Cailin Dorsey (14 points) and junior center Nandi Traywick, who recorded a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Junior Liz Roberts (18 points) – another 1,000-club member – and freshman Izzy Strigel (14 points) kept the Cavaliers (4-1 TISAC, 18-4 overall) close by scoring all of DA’s points in the second and third quarters. But the bigger and faster Ravens (6-0, 19-4) wore down the Cavaliers in the fourth to build a double-digit lead and cruise home.
Even without Rothwell, Ravens coach Shon Hardy was impressed.
“They still have good players on the team,” said Hardy whose team has won eight in a row. “Roberts is a top player and their No. 10 (Erin Dilweg) is getting better. Their No. 22 (Strigel) also surprised us, so Durham Academy is always tough.”
Hardy also has a tough freshman in starter Madison Taylor, whose defense was key to Ravenscroft’s win. Taylor had eight steals and a block to go along with seven points.
“She has really good instincts and stays in a good position defensively,” he said. “She has potential.”
Update: The DA girls lost 67-32 Monday at Ravenscroft but then routed Cary Academy 55-22 Tuesday to improve to 14-9 overall, 5-2 in TISAC games. DA girls will host St. Mary’s on Friday while the DA boys play on the road.
DA boys drop heartbreaker
Three point six seconds ... 3.6.
That’s all Durham Academy needed to finish and end a 19-game losing streak to the eight-time defending conference champions.
But there’s a reason the Ravens are champions.
After a timeout and with Ravenscroft trailing 50-49, sophomore guard Michael Okauru took the inbounds pass and raced the length of the court for a layup as time expired in front of a stunned Kirby Gymnasium crowd.
The victory keeps Ravenscroft (4-0, 15-6) undefeated in TISAC games and its 72 conference win streak alive.
“That’s how we drew it up,” Ravens coach Kevin Billerman said. “We had David (Reynolds) trailing to get the rebound in case he missed and two shooters in the corner.”
Seconds earlier, the Cavaliers had used almost the same play, only it was their sophomore guard, Caleb Vandeburg, who went coast to coast for the layup and go-ahead lead.
Despite a depleted roster, DA played with fire and intensity. The Cavaliers led the entire game until Andrew Ejiofor’s putback gave the Ravens their first lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.
However, DA center Davis Rourk decided to put his team on his back. Rourk scored 13 straight points to help the Cavaliers rebuild their lead to five early in the fourth period.
But the Ravens fought back like the champions they are to set up the winning play.
Rourk recorded a double-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds and a block. Reynolds led Ravenscroft with 17 points, eight rebound and a block.
The Cavaliers had to regroup in a hurry to meet the Ravens again Monday night at Ravenscroft.
That game was a rescheduled match from a postponement earlier this season following a car accident that involved three DA varsity boys. Juniors Cam Brown and Ryan Hester and senior Alston Thompson are still recovering from serious injuries.
Update: Durham Academy rebounded from a 59-39 loss Monday at Ravenscroft by winning 77-71 Tuesday at Cary Academy. The win snapped a three-game slide for DA and improved the Cavaliers' record to 17-10 overall, 3-3 in TISAC games. DA’s boys return to action Friday with a road game against Raleigh Home School.