Davis is Ritchie’s spark

This time a year ago, Ritchie County’s Andrew Davis was sitting on the bench due to injury and watching his Rebels teammates preparing to enter sectional play.

With the 2012-13 regular season winding down this week, the senior forward/center is doing everything he can to help the Rebels reach the Class AA state tournament in the Charleston Civic Center in late March.

“He (Davis) is pretty good when he stays out of foul trouble,” said Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught. “We’re a different team when he is on the floor.”

Different is right.

The Rebels (15-5) are on a eight-game winning streak heading into tonight’s home contest with Wirt County. Ritchie closes its regular season slate of games on Friday when Roane County pays a visit on Senior Night.

A night that almost did not include Davis, who missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery.

“We had no idea what it was,” said Davis. “They (the doctors) had me take an MRI and it showed that the cartilage surrounding my left knee was rubbing the bone.”

A situation that required surgery and months of rehabilitation.

“I thought it (the injury) would end my career a few times,” said Davis. “Even if I was able to get back, I thought the time away from the game would cause me to be behind the other players.”

Something that appeared to happen as the Rebels opened the season by losing two of their first three games and looking as if they would not be a factor in Class AA or the Little Kanawha Conference’s North Division.

That all changed, however, as Ritchie won six of its next seven games, including victories over divisional rivals Williamstown, Tyler Consolidated and Ravenswood.

Back-to-back losses to St. Marys and Parkersburg Catholic left the blue and gray at .500 (3-3) in the North with another game looming at the North Division leading Crusaders 12 days later.

A gutty performance by Davis and fellow senior D.J. Burgess kept the slide from continuing as the Rebels’ handed Parkersburg Catholic a 66-60 setback.

They haven’t lost since, earning the No. 2 spot in the North and their first appearance in the Night of Champions since the 2001 season. One of the major reasons is the play of Davis.

A 19-points per game average has Davis ranked third in the LKC in scoring behind PC’s Jake Ullman (21.9 ppg) and Ravenswood’s Jake Martin (19.1) while his 10.7 rebounds leads the conference. And, as if those numbers were not enough, he leads the Rebels in assists (4.0 pg) and steals (2.9 pg).

Numbers that have him mentioned among the best players in the Little Kanawha Conference.

“I don’t really seem myself as the best player,” said Davis.

“I try not to worry about those kinds of things. I just try to go out there every night and do my part to help this team find a way to win.”

And, if he happens to win some individual awards along the way, so be it.