Lakeland’s Wright central to teamPublished 5:49pm Saturday, February 16, 2013
In the final week of the Lakeland basketball season, junior guard Markese Wright and his defensive ability became a central part of the Cavaliers making it to their first Southeastern district tournament appearance in three years. Then, in the quarterfinal round, he showed his offensive talents by leading the team in scoring with 20 points against the No. 1-seeded Great Bridge. Wright won the title of Player of the Week by a 229-vote margin.
Lakeland had to play an extra game in the regular season to break a tie with Oscar Smith for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Tigers had defeated the Cavaliers twice before in the season, and Great Bridgesenior guard Marcell Moss was a big reason why. In the prior meetings, he scored 18 points and then 28 points.
For the third meeting, Lakeland head coach Clint Wright gave Markese Wright a special task.
He was like, ‘Sell out and don’t look for the ball, just focus on (Moss) because he killed us the last two games,’” Markese Wright said.
Moss was limited to five points, and the Cavaliers got the win.
Coach Wright saw the junior guard’s effectiveness as an extension of what he makes a habit of doing.
“His effort in practice, the energy that he brings from a defensive perspective is kind of like no other,” Coach Wright said. “And it’s even a greater recognition just because he’s not a starter. This is a player that comes off the bench, but actually plays a substantial amount of time.”
Against Great Bridge the next day, he got more time coming off the bench and led his team with 20 points. He was simply taking some advice from assistant coach Tony Smith.
“Coach Tony was like, ‘When you’re wide open, just take shots,’” Wright said.
“He continued to push and to give an assertive effort, and his shots started to fall and the game seemed instinctive for him,” Coach Wright said.
One of the things that compelled the coaches to tap Wright for the task of guarding Moss was his background as a football player. Wright was a member of the varsity team this past year as a wide receiver/defensive back. Lakeland’s athletic director Gregory Rountree has also been trying to get Wright to participate in outdoor track this season.
Wright indicated that he could not choose which sport was his favorite, and he even has no preference for which one he might play in college.
“Whichever one I get a better scholarship in, I’m going to go (with),” he said.
He knows he wants to major in sports medicine because it could open up avenues like the opportunity to become a trainer.
His connection to basketball started when he was 8 years old and was introduced to the game by both his brothers and his grandfather, but not in any gym or league.
“It was the neighborhood,” he said. “We had a lot of friends around there, me and my brothers and my cousins.”
He started with the Suffolk Parks & Recreation Department and after that began playing in the Amateur Athletic Union. Last year, he was on the Lakeland junior varsity squad and after this year, he hopes to start.
The chances for that seem good if he continues what he began at the end of this season.
“It’s just tough that the season had to end last week, because it would have been awesome to see him within the next couple of weeks,” Wright said. “But it’s truly exciting about what’s to return for Lakeland basketball.”
It is the one-on-one battle that a receiver fights with a defender in football that Wright said has helped him hone the determination that “no man shall stop me.”
Following are this week’s Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week nominees:
- Rod Parrett, senior guard for King’s Fork basketball — He scored six consecutive points including the go-ahead basket near the end of the Southeastern District tournament championship and led his team with 22 points to go with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. He also was one of four players in double figures with 12 points in the team’s semifinal victory over cross-town rival Nansemond River.
- Khadedra Croker, junior center for King’s Fork basketball — She showed this week why she was named to the 2013 All-District First Team. In the SED tourney quarterfinals, she had 15 points and 10 rebounds. In the semifinals, she suffered an ankle injury, but returned and scored the go-ahead basket in overtime, leading her team with 18 points, 13 boards and eight blocks. Still hobbled, she had seven points, 12 boards and two blocks in the SED final.
- Jessica Pieroni, junior guard for Nansemond-Suffolk basketball — She has been a leader for her team all season long and though the Lady Saints had a rough week against tough conference competition, she still led them in scoring on Tuesday with 15 points against Hampton Roads Academy. On Thursday, she had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the regular season finale against Norfolk Christian.
Vote by 7 p.m. Wednesday by sending an email with the subject “Player of the Week” to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also vote on our Facebook page and on the Suffolk News-Herald homepage.
Next Sunday, we’ll feature the readers’ choice in a story on the sports page.
Spread the word.