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Davis honored as A-G court namesake

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Johnny Davis is congratulated by Ayden-Grifton basketball players and friends during a ceremony naming the school's basketball court in his honor Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 2, 2018

When Johnny Davis first came to Ayden-Grifton in 1971, the school’s gym floor had not even been installed yet.

From now on, that floor will bear his name after a ceremony Friday night in which the school honored the Ayden coaching stalwart and officially christened “Johnny Davis Court” before the Chargers took on North Lenoir.

The man affectionately known around A-G as “Chief” spent three years at the school that time around, a stint that followed time at the old South Ayden and Ayden High Schools. Stops at five other schools followed, including stints at Ayden Middle (1988-93) and E.B. Aycock (1993-96) before returning to A-G in 1996.

Davis, 70, was an assistant boys’ basketball coach from 2000-07 under head coach Bob Murphrey, for whom A-G’s gym is named, and has been an assistant under coach John-Kyle Moye since 2010. He was presented an award marking the occasion Friday by Pitt County Board of Education member Worth Forbes, and his name will be added to the court this summer at the school he first came to nearly half a century ago.

“Man, it’s great. It’s unbelievable, really,” Davis said. “To think now, 47, 48 years later, that my name is going to be on that floor and my name is going to be in the same gym with Coach Murphrey’s name, that’s just an honor right there. A lot of people made this possible and I really appreciate it.”

Davis has won more than 500 games across the numerous sports he has coached. In nearly five decades, he has been a head coach in football, boys’ and girls’ basketball and softball at both the middle and high school level, in addition to numerous stints as an assistant coach in football and basketball. He was also Ayden-Grifton’s head track coach from 1971-74.

The connections Davis has to the Ayden community go far beyond basketball. Many in attendance Friday night had been taught by Davis during his 35 years in public education, or had him as their driver’s education instructor in a role he still holds. Some also crossed paths with him as a baseball or a softball umpire.

That’s how athletic director Paul Cornwell first remembers encountering Davis, as an umpire when Cornwell, 48, was a Little League baseball player in Ayden. Now, he views him as an invaluable member of the fabric of Ayden.

“He’s had a tremendous impact on a lot of people in our community,” Cornwell said. “As a young person growing up in Ayden, I always saw Johnny and he was always a positive influence. Through the years, I’ve coached people he coached and people he’s been around, and there’s never a negative word. You can’t give what he’s given to this community without having the heart to want to do it and make the community a better place, and he’s done it in every role possible.”

Murphrey was one of the people who approached Cornwell last summer about honoring Davis and his contributions to the school.

In addition to coaching together at Ayden-Grifton in the early 2000s, Davis and Murphrey have known each other for more than 50 years, since they both came to Ayden in the late 1960s. The NCHSAA Hall of Famer said having Davis’ name on A-G’s court makes having his own name on the gym itself that much more special.

“He’s been one of my closest friends and colleagues,” Murphrey said. “He’s been an unsung hero for this school for many years. People don’t realize all the things he’s done and what an influence he’s had. The guy has integrity and I have such trust in him and respect for him. He’s worked closely with me all these years, and he’s been a tremendous force for the school and the community.”

Davis said his goal is to get to 50 years coaching before potentially stepping away. Basketball and the task of coaching have evolved a lot in five decades, but he was adamant that he still enjoys it and still enjoys being around young players because they keep him feeling young.

He still has his sharp sense of humor, too.

“I told the kids in practice (Thursday) that if they got out there during the game and screwed up, I was going to tell them to get off my court,” he said, laughing. “But it’s quite an honor and I really appreciate it.”

North Lenoir’s boys beat Ayden-Grifton 94-60. The Hawks’ girls topped the Chargers 51-37.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

J.H. Rose 73, D.H. Conley 42

If this installment of the J.H. Rose-D.H. Conley rivalry lacked teeth coming into the Friday night's game, those teeth showed early in the second quarter when Rose's Ben Harris swatted the ball away from Conley's Jahmois Barnhill and immediately went chin to chin with him.

The two had to be separated, but the real separation happened after that, as Rose ran away with an easy win from there.

Although it was 17-16 Rampants at one point in that period, it was 28-20 Rose at halftime and a 50-28 blowout at the third-quarter turn. Creighton Lebo's 3-pointer with 2:48 left in the third made it a 20-point advantage for the hosts.

Rose (14-7, 6-4 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference) avenged a loss earlier this season to the Vikings (12-10, 6-4) and forged a tie between the crosstown rivals for second in the conference with two league games left.

Keonte Goodman led all scorers with 15 points for the Rampants, including three of his team's seven 3-pointers in the win. Silas James added 14 in the victory.

Conley was led by C.J. Johnson's 13 points.

—Nathan Summers

North Pitt 68

North Johnston 52

NP (68)

Daquan Hines 13, Zaquarius Sherrod-Wilson 12, Matthew Council 12, Nas Staton 11, Deonte Person 10, Phillip Boykin 6, Chrishyne Ward 2, Jaquez Coffey 2.

Record: NP 12-8, 5-2.

Up next: NP at Nash Central on Tuesday.

Farmville Central 74

SW Edgecombe 52

Record: FC 15-3, 8-0.

Up next: Beddingfield at FC on Tuesday.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

D.H. Conley 71, J.H. Rose 34

Mackena Batts celebrated her birthday in style, storming the Rose girls' team for 34 points in an easy victory for D.H.Conley.

Batts' big night included six 3-pointers and she scored 14 of her points in the third quarter alone. Pouring in 20 more points for the Vikings (14-8, 7-3) was Kiara Johnson, who connected four times from long range.

The Rampants (3-19, 2-8) were led in defeat by Tori Simmons' 10 points.

Conley led 37-38 at halftime before opening up a commanding 63-27 lead after three quarters.

—Nathan Summers

North Pitt 65

North Johnston 44

NP (65)

Nyjanique Langley 30, Alyssa Kerns 4, Casandra Watson 10, Ashanti Hines 12, Tjuanna WIlliams 4, Tamia Frizzell 4, Jakeyria Crawford 3.

Record: NP 17-4, 7-1.

Up next: NP at Nash Central on Tuesday.

SW Edgecombe 56

Farmville Central 53

Record: FC 10-8, 2-6.

Up next: Beddingfield at FC on Tuesday.

JV BOYS’ BASKETBALL

D.H. Conley 60, J.H. Rose 49

MIDDLE SCHOOLS

BOYS' BASKETBALL

A.G. Cox 44, Hope 26

Hope leaders — Deontay Joseph 7, Jamir Wright 7.

Record: H 5-5, 3-4.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

A.G. Cox 39, Hope 37

Hope leaders — Kylah Silver 13, Trinity Nichols 11.

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