Local schools advance at State Farm

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2002

Eric Ruffin scored 12 points, including seven in overtime, as Lakeland held off Norview 62-59 in the opening round of the State Farm Christmas Classic at Nansemond River High School on Friday evening. Mark Plenty scored 19 for the Cavaliers, who will take on cross-town rival Nansemond River in the tournament final at 8 p.m. tonight (the second year in a row that the two Suffolk schools have faced each other).

After neither team was able to gain a sizeable advantage for the first 14 minutes, a pair of free throws by Plenty tied the score at 23 with two minutes left in the first half. Then the Pilot took flight for the first time, as Rodney Young, Chris Woolridge and Dontrell Anderson led their team on a 9-0 run to end the half ahead 32-23.

Two baskets by Anthony Rodgers extended the advantage to 36-25 in the first two minutes of the third quarter, but Lakeland roared back. Plenty, Ruffin, Linwood Wiggins and Marcus Artis scored as the Cavaliers charged on a 15-0 run that gave them the lead for the first time. A three-pointer by Tony Scott got Norview to within 40-38, but Mike Camp found a way inside for a jumper to end the third quarter with Lakeland ahead, 42-39.

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The game went back-and-forth for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, and a jumper by Ruffin gave the Cavaliers a 50-46 lead with 3:53 to play. Woolridge and Derrick Wright sank three free throws, and Wright hit a jumper to put the Pilots back on top, 51-50, with 2:31 to play. Lakeland called timeout, and Artis broke through two defenders for a layup at the 1:11 mark.

Joey Bennett missed a jumper for Norview, and Ruffin pulled down the rebound. The Cavaliers stalled, and Ruffin was fouled with 40 seconds left. He made one free throw to up the lead to 53-53, but Woolridge slammed home a dunk 10 seconds later.

After another timeout, Lakeland took possession at midcourt with 18 seconds left. Ruffin took the ball, and hurtled into the lane. Barreling into two defenders, he was called for charging, and the Pilots got the ball back with six seconds left. They called timeout, but Artis intercepted an inbound pass to send the game to overtime.

&uot;I was trying to go for a layup, but I got too deep,&uot; Ruffin said of the charge. &uot;I had to make it up in overtime.&uot;

He did so; after Wright hit a jumper for Norview, Ruffin banged in his second three-pointer and a free throw for a 57-55 lead with 3:12 left. Wright tied the game with free throws, but Artis swished a pair of one-pointers for a 59-57 lead. Each team scored two more points, and Lakeland took possession with a minute to go.

They stalled for 30 seconds, and Wiggins was fouled. He missed both free throws, but Plenty snatched the rebound and hit a free throw for a 62-59 lead. After a timeout, Norview missed two three-pointers, and the game belonged to Lakeland.

&uot;When you’re the captain, you have to lead the team to victory,&uot; said Ruffin, a Cavalier co-captain. &uot;Our defense was alright, but we have to execute more on offense.&uot;


Nansemond River raced off to a 30-10 lead with six minutes left in the first half and never looked back on their way to an 85-36 grubbing of Portsmouth’s Wilson High in the second game on the tournament. Marquie Cooke scored 16 points for the Warriors, and Latron Demiel added 14. Nansemond River goes for its fourth-straight State Farm title at 8 p.m. tonight when they battled Lakeland (the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in last season’s championship.)