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Friday, July 12, 2024

Former Lawrence Central star leads Seton Hall past hometown Butler

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Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Butler put together their best half of the season to take down the #11 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. The effort in Wisconsin set up an extremely important contest in Hinkle at noon on Saturday as the Big East’s hottest team, the Seton Hall Pirates, stopped over in Indy to maintain their spot at the front of the conference race.

This day was a homecoming for an Indianapolis kid.  D’Andre “Dre” Davis’ Lawrence Central hoops career ended on March 3, 2020 with a loss in the opening round of Indiana’s infamous Sectional 10.  A couple of weeks later, COVID-19 would shut down the world. Davis would go on to be named an Indiana All-Star alongside Bears teammate and current Miami Hurricane guard Nigel Pack.

(Photo/Walt Thomas)

Dre made a big impact on LC during his time on the eastside, “I took notes on how he took his academics serious and how to be a student athlete. I also seen how respectful he was to his parents and teachers,” said former teammate DaMeriz Merriweather.   

Early in summer of 2020, Dre would head south to Louisville, an 18-year-old kid looking to make his mark on the world. 

Fast forward.

Saturday morning, after almost four years spent outside of the circle city Dre Davis walked through the doors of Indianapolis’ basketball cathedral, Hinkle Fieldhouse, with Seton Hall Head Coach Shaheen Holloway. He walked next to Holloway. Into his hometown. A man.

Seton Hall Butler Basketball Game
(Photo/Walt Thomas)

A lot has happened in the last four years for Davis. After two years at Louisville, a coaching change prompted a move into the transfer portal in April of 2022.  During his freshman year at Louisville Dre met former Pike (’18) All-State guard Mikia Keith. The two began a long-distance relationship while Keith was chasing her own hoop dream at Division I SIU-Edwardsville.   Mikia graduated from SIU-E in ’22.  She became part of a package deal during Davis’ time in the portal as the couple learned they were expecting a child in the midst of Keith’s senior season.  During the recruiting process Davis and Keith quickly connected with Pirate Coach Shaheen Holloway.  Holloway had experience as a young father.  He had a little one even before he suited up alongside Kobe Bryant on the East team in the 1996 McDonald’s All-American game. Holloway’s oldest daughter, Shatanik, was born in 1993 while Shaheen was a 15-year-old high school student at the famed St. Patrick’s HS in Elizabeth, NJ. The Indianapolis couple moved out to New Jersey to start a new chapter together.  Daughter Malia was born in August of 2022.   After taking a year off to care for her new baby, Keith decided that she wasn’t done with basketball.  Inspired by her daughter she decided to get her MBA and use her final year of eligibility, ironically, to represent the school that Holloway made famous after beating Purdue in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  Mikia would suit up for the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Saint Peter’s Peacocks women’s basketball team whose campus in Jersey City is 18 miles from Seton Hall ‘s home in South Orange.   Keith and Davis live in Harrison, New Jersey – half way between their respective schools.  The life of Division I college athletes is demanding, throw in the responsibility of a child and it might be too much. Fortunately, Davis’ parents moved out to New Jersey in 2022 and Mikia’s parents visit often.  When the two have games or road trips that overlap they get a lot of support from family.  This was the case on Saturday as Mikia played at 2 PM in Manhattan just as Dre’s game was ending in Indianapolis.

Davis and Holloway stepped onto Butler’s home floor with the confidence of a 6-1 record over their last 7 games.  Their team found themselves tied for the top spot in the Big East with UCONN and Villanova. Butler entered needing to keep the momentum going after their signature win early in the week.  It was crucial they capitalize on a soft spot in the schedule over the next five games in order to keep their tournament hopes alive.

The game started great for Butler. Point guard Posh Alexander, who found two high school teammates from Our Savior Lutheran HS in the Bronx wearing the Pirate blue, buried a three from the left wing on Butler’s first possession.  Dre Davis answered on the next possession with a three of his own from the left wing.   The visiting team came in averaging 5 made three pointers a game.  This contest was different. Seton Hall marched through the ten-minute mark of the first half up 28-20 shooting a very efficient 9-16 from the field. The hometown kid, Davis, was responsible for 8 points during the Pirates hot opening stretch.  Butler settled in defensively over the half’s second ten-minute stretch but the team from the east coast had bagged 8 threes with four minutes still left before halftime. Fortunately, the Bulldogs and Alexander were playing well enough offensively to keep contact. The home team played Holloway’s group even over the last ten minutes to head into halftime down 45-37. 

Seton Hall vs Butler University basketball game
(Photo/Walt Thomas)

1954 Mr. Basketball Bobby Plump from Milan, the man Jimmy Chitwood was based on in the movie Hoosiers, sat at center court as the second half got under way.  Butler came out strong.  Alexander picked the pocket of Pirate guard Al-Amir Dawes and raced to the other end for an uncontested layup at the 15:22 mark, tying the game at 48-48,  and capping off an 11-3 run to start the final 20 minutes. The Hinkle faithful jumped to their feet, the building was rocking!  New game.  The next 7 minutes were a back and forth defensive battle. Neither team pushed ahead by more than 4 points. Enter Boden Kapke.   The 6’11 freshman didn’t see action in the first 32 minutes of the game.  After being subbed in just with just under 8 minutes to go in the game he immediately got the ball in the post and kicked to an open Jahmyl Telfort in the left corner for a 3. Bang!  Butler down 1 at 60-59.  Next possession Alexander hits a wide open Kapke at the top of the key. Boden fires from downtown. Bang!  Butler takes their first lead of the contest at 62-60 with 7:04 to play.  The 7,777 in attendance are rocking Hinkle Fieldhouse.  As would become the theme of the last seven minutes of the game Seton Hall answers Butler’s big bucket on the very next possession!  Over the next six minutes, neither team would get ahead by more than a bucket.  The home crowd was trying hard to get into the game but the Pirates would immediately sit them down whenever the Bulldogs made a big bucket.  With a minute left in the contest and the score tied at 72-72, Seton Hall’s leading scorer Kadary Richmond drove the middle of the lane on BU forward Jahmyl Telfort, lowered his shoulder to create separation and hit a little floater to put Seton Hall up by a field goal.  Richmond’s basket would put the Pirates ahead for good.  He would go on to hit 4 more free throws down the stretch as part of his game high 24 points.  Shaheen Holloway’s team would escape Indianapolis with a coveted road victory, 78-72, on their quest for a Big East title.

In the postgame press conference a visibly frustrated Butler Head Coach Thad Matta pointed to the first half as the difference in the game, “I told the guys we had no desperation in the first half.  The other night I thought we played with desperation.  I thought we did in the second half.  That’s got to be sort of who we are.”

The win moved Seton Hall to 5-1 in the Big East, tied for first place in the conference with Danny Hurley’s UCONN squad.

D’Andre Davis played a team leading 35 minutes for Seton Hall finishing with 14 points on 50% shooting.  Posh Alexander led Butler with 17 points.

The loss moved Butler’s record to 11-6 overall, 2-4 in the Big East. They have an opportunity to get back on track Tuesday night at Xavier!

Austin Taylor is the executive director of The City League. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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