EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 15, 2012

DAVIS TRANSFORMS NECC

By Jeff Hamrick
sports@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — While it wasn’t as significant as turning his life around, Kyle Davis proved last night he also makes an impact on a basketball court.

After suffering through a 9:30 stretch in the second half without a field goal, Northern Essex Community College rode a Davis rampage that turned an eight-point deficit into a 73-68 victory over Massasoit.

The 23-year-old Davis, who spent the better part of the first six months of the year in prison after pleading guilty to a February 2011 charge of distributing marijuana, rallied the Knights with a 55-second burst in which he scored four points, pulled in three rebounds and had an assist on a full-court pass that resulted in a Junior Veras layup. The run cut Massasoit’s 59-51 lead with 6:39 remaining into just a two-point advantage with 5:44 left.

“We just called a timeout, and this group was really tight,” said Davis, who finished with season-highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds. “Everyone looked each other in the face and that brought us together.”

A pair of Veras free throws, five straight points by Franklin Martinez, and a driving Damian Lugay layup completed the turn-around that gave NECC (3-2) the lead for good at 66-65 with 1:40 left.

Davis dropped out of Haverhill High School his sophomore year but earned his GED in 2007, the same year he would have graduated.

“I got into a lot of trouble,” said Davis, who is on track to graduate in the spring. “I got into a lot of bad stuff with a lot of bad people.”

About 15 months ago, his girlfriend gave birth to the couples’ daughter, Ava Marie, which proved Davis’ wake-up call.

“I got sober — I’ve got two years in February,” said Davis, who approached NECC coach Darren Stratton and assistant Joe Tardiff about playing after enrolling at the school. “I’ve come a long way in the last year. Going from a 0.3 (GPA) in high school to a 3.3 is an accomplishment. Words can’t describe how I’m feeling.”

Stratton is enjoying his on-court accomplishments just as well. Last night, he helped put the finishing touches on Massasoit with four points in 16 seconds that provided a 70-65 lead with 66 seconds left.

“Last week in a team meeting, Damian Lugay told Kevin ‘you’re the heart and soul of this team,” Stratton said. “I thought that was big.”

NECC 73, MASSASOIT 68

Massasoit (68) — Alain Lenord 3 1-2 8, Romain Phoenix 2 2-2 7, Sayvonn Houston 7 4-6 18, Kwame Lee 6 8-8 21, Andrew McCarthy 5 0-0 10, Darren Thompson 1 0-0 2, Stefan Vukovic 1 0-2 2, Tariq Tate 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 15-20 68.

NECC (73) — Jarvis Castro 1 0-0 2, Damian Lugay 4 7-9 15, Matt Sifferlen 3 1-3 7, Kyle Davis 10 0-2 21, Will Angelini 1 0-0 3, James Morgan-Themes 0 0-0 0, Franklin Martinez 3 0-0 8, Ryan Freeman 2 0-0 4, Junior Veras 3 5-6 11, Neph Carmona 0 0-0 0, Desmond Obi 1 0-1 2. Totals 28 13-21 73

3-pointers: M — Lenord, Phoenix, Lee; NECC — Martinez 2, Davis, Angelini.