Humble coach, ferocious team

Published 7:15 pm Monday, April 23, 2012

Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport looks on during the NCHSAA 1-A state title game at the Dean E. Smith Center. Davenport, who was selected as the WDN Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year, guided his state-runner up team to a 23-5 record this season. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

PLYMOUTH — Marvin Davenport may be humble and unimposing, but the same could not be said for his basketball team as it’s attacking style of play was the pivotal force behind Plymouth’s ferocious run at a state championship this season.
While the Vikings bid at a state crown fell short with a 61-49 defeat at the hands of Winston-Salem Prep, it by no means diminished the magnitude what they accomplished.
“It was not a good year, it was a great year,” Davenport said. “We never even talked about getting to state. The only thing we talked about this season was just getting better. We wanted to get better each time we were in the gym and each time we played.”
That they did, as the Vikings (23-5, 13-1) would finish the season with a Four Rivers Conference regular season and tournament title to go along with their East Regional crown as they made it to the state title game for only the second time in school history, which enable Davenport to be named the Washington Daily News Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year.
With phenomenal guards like Carl McCray, Adrian Moore, Kendrick Pitt and Khalil Sheppard, the key for Davenport was to convince his players to continually attack the basket. While that might sound like an easy sell, anyone who’s watched enough high school basketball knows that the temptation for players to jack up jumpers is harder to resist than a Krispy Kreme.
“We do a lot of attacking the basket. I tell all our young men that you have to be able to control and dribble the ball,” Davenport said. “You have to go out and attack the basket. That’s what we teach. You have to have that determination.
“If you attack the basket there are only a few things that could happen: You’re either going to make the shot, get it blocked or get fouled, and if you get fouled you’re going to the free throw line.”
The Vikings aggressive approach on offense paid off in the 1-A East Regional finals when Plymouth erased a 34-29 halftime deficit by erupting for 67 points in the second half to stun Rocky Mount Prep 86-78 and advance to the state finals which would be played at the home of Davenport’s beloved Tar Heels at the Dean E. Smith Center.
For Smith, that game would come to highlight the 2011-12 season.
“The best moment was beating Rocky Mount Prep because no one thought that we could do it. Everyone was saying Rocky Mount Prep would be the team that would represent Eastern North Carolina,” Davenport said. “I’ve never been to the Big Dance and I was just so thankful. … If I never go again, I can say I’ve been there one time.”