Mr. Clutch: Davis leading Plymouth to 4th straight Semi-State

Defining what's the best moment in the career of Randy Davis is no easy task.

There's scoring 28 points in the 3A State Championship last March to lead Plymouth to its first state title in 25 years. You'd think that would take the cake.

But there were also a couple of sleepers this year.

There's missing a free throw with 19 seconds left in the opening round of sectionals two weeks ago against St. Joe with Plymouth down three, only to come up with a huge rebound and find an open Nick Neidlinger to tie the game and keep the Pilgrims' season alive.

There's last Saturday's Regional Championship. With Plymouth down five with one minute to go, Davis scored 8 points in the final 60 seconds to lead the Pilgrims to victory.

The defending 3A State Champs now enter Semi-State for the four straight season. Davis has been a part of all four of the runs.

But it was the first run that produced his greatest memory of his four years at Plymouth.

Yes, the very year that saw Plymouth lose a heatbreaker at the buzzer.

Davis was just a freshman then--back in 2005--when the Pilgrims faced Washington. Davis scored 10 points in 13 minutes of play, including a huge bucket with 1.8 seconds left in overtime to put Plymouth up by one.

Then Luke Zeller shattered Plymouth's dreams hitting a half court shot at the buzzer to give Washington the state championship win.

Players, coaches, fans---all in tears, including Davis. But through the trying times, came an important moment.

"On the floor, it was me, Chad Clinton and Jason Renz," Davis explains. "Chad puts us in a little circle and said, 'I promise you that we will be back here next year.'"

"It didn't happen that next year, but then the following year---of course, it then happened."

Indeed it did. All three were major reasons why Jack Edison went out in style last March as Plymouth defeated Evansville Bosse 72-61 for the second state championship in school history.

In addition to the points, Davis also had four rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. He was everywhere and did everything.

"He knows what needs to be done without coaches telilng him what needs to be done," long-time Plymouth assistant and interim head coach John Scott says. "That's how good he is on the floor."

Scott has been with the Plymouth program for 28 years. He says Davis is just a step below Scott Skiles, who of course, was the player to lead the 1982 team to state gold.

"He's amazing," junior guard Jeremy Renz says with a big smile on his face. "The things he does for our team---he's all around the greatest player I've played with by far."

Simply put, Davis is Mr. Clutch. His teammates know to get the ball to him at the end of games.

"We know at the end of the game, he's gonig to make something happen," fellow senior Nick Neidlinger says. "You know he's going to make the right decision."

"If he doesn't have a shot, he'll pass it off. If he has a shot, he'll take it."

Of course, Neidlinger was in prime position in one of the situations where Davis had to pass it off, hitting the three against St. Joe to force OT.

"If the game does come down to it, they all tell me, 'if you do miss, it's ok,'" Davis explains.

"I say, if it does come down to the last second, give me the ball and I'll try and make something happen."

Davis does believe this year is truly special. He points out how many didn't give Plymouth a shot of returning to this stage, but now they have.

The Pilgrims graduated four starters from last year's, with only Davis returning. But the team grew as the season went on, winning 16 of its last 17 games.

In fact, the team's only loss during that run (in the regular season finale to Warsaw) is the team's only loss in 2008.

Plymouth faces Harding in the 3A Semi-State Saturday at approximately 3pm at Warsaw High School.

A win and they could face Washington and Zeller again in the state championship. Not Luke Zeller, however. His younger brother Tyler, who is averaging 32 points a game and is headed to North Carolina next season.

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