Dorman Wins Top 10 Battle
If there is one thing everyone loves in the world of sports, it is a good story of someone overcoming sad circumstances and loss with a happy ending even Hollywood would struggle to write. That is what happened on Thursday night as the Dorman Cavaliers hosted the TL Hanna Yellow Jackets in a battle of teams that were both ranked in the top 10 of this week’s 5A polls.
Before tip off, DHS held a special ceremony to honor the life and legacy of former Dorman girls’ basketball coach Valerie Whiteside, who passed away last Friday. Whiteside was the winningest coach in Cavaliers womens’ hoops history with 215 career victories. She was also a hall of famer in both the Southern Conference and at her alma mater Appalachian State University. But, she was known for far more than just her achievements on the court.
Valerie was also a beloved mentor, member of the Dorman community, and most importantly, a mother. She had 2 sons, one of which you may remember from being a standout wide receiver for the Cavs as well as Stanford University – JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Her other son, Keenan, is currently a Junior at Dorman and a 2-sport athlete, following in his brother’s footsteps as a receiver and also playing basketball.
In the most fitting fashion, it was Keenan that would end up honoring his late mother with a special performance that would have her smiling with pride.
“Tonight was such a special night celebrating Coach Whiteside and the impact she has had on our school and community. I am so honored to have coached with her for 11 years and watched her firsthand love on her players while also winning so many games. I can only imagine how proud she was of Keenan tonight”, said Dorman Head Coach Thomas Ryan..
Dorman entered undefeated at 6-0 after picking up wins over Blacksburg, Riverside, and the Asheville School since beating Sumter at the Dorman Invitational. TL Hanna entered 6-2 on the season, with one of their 2 losses having come against this Dorman team back on November 29th – a 52-45 victory for the Cavs in Anderson.
Thursday’s rematch could be summarized as sloppy, and a war of attrition at the same time. Both squads struggled throughout the night – mainly because they both played very strong defense. In the early going, TL Hanna was swarming in the paint and forcing the Cavaliers to have to fight for every inch they could get, leading to them going 6 for their first 14 shots. The Yellow Jackets also limited Christian Andrews, who has been one of Dorman’s biggest scoring threats, to just 3 points in the opening 8 minutes.
On the flipside, the Cavaliers managed to force a lot of turnovers all night long, and although they didn’t always come away with points off of them, it went a long way in keeping TL Hanna at bay when the game got tight.
“I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight. We were really locked in and were able to overcome some turnovers and sloppy offensive play. I was really proud of our guys for stepping up with some big plays in crunch time”, said Dorman Head Coach Thomas Ryan of his team’s defense.
The game was ultimately determined by 2 different runs. After Hanna pulled within 2 to make it 13-11, Dorman went on a 9-0 run to help propel them to a 28-19 lead at the half. TL Hanna held the Cavaliers to just 7 points in the 3rd quarter, pulling back to a 35-31 game as it went to the final frame, which Dorman started on an 8-2 tear.
That 4th quarter rally came at the hands of Christian Gentry, who would finish as the team’s 2nd leading scorer with 11 points, and Keenan Arcega-Whiteside. Keenan came into the game’s final 8 minutes with just 4 points on 2-4 shooting. He ended the game on a 4-5 tear, with all his makes coming in critical moments in the paint to propel the Cavaliers to the 54-35 win and season sweep of TL Hanna to remain undefeated.
“Keenan was huge in the 4th quarter. He got in some foul trouble early in the first half, but it was good to see him respond so well in the 2nd half when we needed him to”, said Coach Ryan.
Arcega-Whiteside’s heroic effort in the 4th quarter that gave him the team lead with 12 points was complemented by Christian Gentry, who went 3-4 in the frame with a couple of key baskets of his own down the stretch. That made him the team’s 2nd leading scorer on the night with 11 points.
“Christian hit some big shots when TL Hanna had really closed the gap. Peden Brazeale also hit a big one for us. Again, I was just really proud of our guys for stepping up big in crunch time”, said Ryan.
Dorman’s other noteworthy efforts came from Christian Andrews, who just missed getting into double figures despite being limited by Hanna’s defense for most of the game with 9 points. Cason Gilliam added 8 points, Will Bush tallied 4, while Pede Brazeale and Bracyn Burns logged 3 apiece.
Dorman, now 7-0 on the season, will look to keep the streak going as they hit the road to face the Grayson Rams (Ga) in a showcase in Franklin, Georgia this Saturday with tip set for 6:00 before returning home to face JL Mann on Monday with a tentative 7:30 tip.