Goose Creek Memorial’s Jesiah Haye blocks the shot of Robert E. Lee’s Ijenea Wooley, 10, during the Patriots win Friday as REL’s Marc Hall, 24, and GCM’s Malik Mustafaa, 10, look on.

The return of Keke Davis to the Robert E. Lee basketball lineup showed just how much the Ganders missed and need him.

Starting in his first game back, Davis, a junior who broke his lower leg during the football season stepped onto the Goose Creek Memorial court Friday in a District 22-5A opener and immediately showed his impact on the team as they battled to a 27-24 halftime lead.

Then they found out how truly vital he was once Davis was called for his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and trailing 32-31.

That was where the Patriots exploded on a 20-1 run over the next eight minutes en route to a 60-52 win in a hotly contested battle of rivals.

TJ Bolds led GCM (13-8) with 17 points while Sam Bradford added 12 points and Avant Coleman chipped in with 10 points.

“The difference in this game was going to be pace and playing hard,” GCM head coach Marcus Ebow said. “Lee did a good job in the first half beating us to loose balls and 50-50 balls. So we challenged our guys to step up and protect the house. We had to pick up the intensity and that was pretty much what it was.

“They had to take (Davis) out and that hurt them losing their best player.”

REL was led by Marc Hall (15 points), Davis (12 points) and Adrian Boston (11 points).

“We knew they were a team that went on runs,” REL head coach Seth Due said. “Keke was in control of the entire game of the first half. We never looked frazzled or out of control. Remove him from the floor and it immediately takes away that.

“He didn’t play the end of the third and that’s when they took control and that’s that.”

GCM made its push behind Bolds setting the marker on the defensive end and scoring and dishing off enough of a number of REL turnovers.

The winning rally may have helped define the GCM season from here on out.

“It was pivotal to how our season could go,” Ebow said. “We could have easily come out in the second half and dug ourselves a big hole for the rest of the district.”

Sterling falls to United

Sterling fell to 7-12 overall and dropped its District 21-6A opener with a 76-40 loss to visiting No. 2 United on Friday.

Jeremy Benson (11 points) and Kyle Arclies (10 points) led Sterling.

“I thought we played a tough game, and executed a game plan as best as possible against a team of this nature,” RSS head coach Greg Smith said. “We weren’t even supposed to compete in this game, so to come out and still be in the game going into the fourth is credited to a great group of kids giving us everything they have.”

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