Big comeback lifts Cavaliers

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2002

Eric Ruffin scored nine points in the last 2:04 as Lakeland raced back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to open their season with a victory on Wednesday, defeating Churchland 58-54. After Jerrod Godwin hit a jumper from the right side to give the Truckers a 41-28 lead with 7:45 to play, the Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0), who hadn’t led since being up 3-0, took over, charging away on a 30-15 run in the remaining time.

&uot;We had a mental lapse, but we got it together in the huddle before the fourth quarter,&uot; said Ruffin, a junior Cavalier. &uot;We told each other to communicate better on defense, and it won us the game.&uot;

For the first three quarters, it seemed that a lack of communication on offense would be the Cavaliers’ downfall. Reginald Evans scored two layups to give Lakeland a 19-16 lead with 4:01 to play in the second quarter, but the Cavaliers were unable to push in another shot until there were three minutes to go in the third, a span in which they turned the ball over six times. Meanwhile, five different Truckers scored as Churchland charged to a 34-19 advantage.

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Mark Plenty took over the Cavalier offense, cutting the lead to eight with two layups and a three-point play, but Ben Finney, Anthony Witherspoon and Omar Jones led Church-land on a 5-2 run to end the third quarter ahead 39-28, a lead that Godwin increased with his jumper.

From then on, however, the Lakeland offense took over. Evans sank a free throw and Kenneth Reid a jumper to get to 41-31. A jumper and layup from Godwin snared a 45-33 lead for Churchland at the 6:07 mark, but the Cavaliers mounted their first offensive movement of the night.

Plenty, Tyrone Parker and Marcus Artis racked up seven consecutive points, clawing their way to 45-40. Church-land called timeout, but Mike Camp swished a jumper to knock the lead down to three with 3:07 to play.

Jones sank a pair of free throws, but Plenty and Evans swished four in a row to get to within one. Darrick Williams sank a jumper with 2:15 to go, but Ruffin tied the score with a three-point play, stole the ball from Jones, and called timeout with 1:45 on the clock.

The Cavaliers stalled, and Camp banked home a shot to retake the lead at 1:18. Lakeland’s defense stole the ball back, and Ruffin was fouled twice in the next 30 seconds, sinking all four free throws as the Cavaliers built a 55-49 lead.

&uot;I wasn’t nervous,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s my job to lead the team. We had to put it all on the line to win this game.&uot;

After a Churchland timeout, T.J. Williams hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to three with :31 left. Ruffin hit two more free throws, but a jumper by Williams with 18 seconds left kept the Truckers alive.

Then Plenty hit a free throw to up the lead to four with four seconds left, and the win was secured.

In the junior varsity game, the younger Cavaliers had an easier time of things, beating Churchland 59-32. Darnell Skeeter led the Cavaliers with 14 points.

Over at Churchland, the Lady Cavalier varsity and junior varsity teams came out on top as well. The varsity team took a 27-21 victory, helped along by five clutch fee throws by Alecia Harris, who led all scorers with seven points. The junior varsity girls score was unavailable at press time.

The four teams will return to action against Deep Creek tonight, as the girls head to Chesapeake and the boys stay home. The junior varsity games will begin at 6 p.m., and the varsity games around 7:30 p.m.