Eric’s ruffin’ up Tigers
Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 22, 2004
LAKELAND 67, OSCAR SMITH 42
Eric Ruffin led an explosive performance by the Lakeland offense in arguably its most domineering performance of the season Friday night, a 67-42 rout of host Oscar Smith (OS) in the semifinals of the Southeastern District tournament. Ruffin pushed in a season-high 26 points, with Corey Davis adding 13 and Mike Camp 10. Ruffin also fired out nine assists, and he and Davis took away five steals apiece. Davis also yanked down six rebounds. The win made up for the Cavaliers’ jaded performance in their 51-34 victory over Hickory in the opening round last Wednesday, and sent them well on their way to the final against local rival Nansemond River, which defeated Indian River in the evening’s second semifinal game.
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The Warriors swept Lakeland during the regular season, but their 65-63 victory on Feb. 6 could have gone either way, with the Cavaliers leading for much of the contest.
&uot;We knew we had to win, because we want to see Nansemond River again,&uot; Ruffin said. The Cavalier victory and NRHS’s later defeat of Indian River guarantees the first-ever all-Suffolk Southeastern District tournament final. Should Lakeland win, it will be their first-ever district title.
Lakeland charged past a stunned Tiger squad from the start, as Ruffin, Camp and Davis racked up five points in the first three minutes. Kevin Worsley scored the first OS points, but Mark Plenty tossed in a jumper from the left baseline and Ruffin broke away for another layup. Davis and Kenny Reid scored in the final minute, and the Cavaliers had a 13-3 advantage to open the second quarter.
Camp drained his team’s first three-pointer and Ruffin swished another jumper, but the Tigers started to bite back. Worsley scored six points in 59 seconds, and Tommy Lawrence snuck through for a layup to get as close as 18-11.
&uot;We saw that they were trying to fight back, so we put the pressure on them,&uot; Ruffin said. &uot;Our coaches told us that we had the lead, and now we had to keep it.&uot; He tossed two straight assists to Camp, and Davis scored to go ahead by 13. Reid hit a one-handed jumper, Ruffin a three-pointer from the top of the key, and Davis a recovered block for a 31-14 halftime lead.
Ruffin especially took the spotlight in the third quarter, scoring 13 points, capped off by a breakaway dunk with one second remaining.
Josh Russell found his own shooting touch to open the third quarter, hitting a three-pointer. Plenty dropped in a jumper from the right baseline, and Ruffin scored twice in 25 seconds. Ruffin scored again for a 61-35 lead, and Camp, Reid and Reginald Evans scored the game’s final points.
&uot;We’ve got more fire under us, knowing that we get to play Nansemond River,&uot; Ruffin said. The contest will begin at 7:45 tonight at Oscar Smith.
NANSEMOND RIVER 87, INDIAN RIVER 57
Marquie Cooke had a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists, and Vaughn Wilson scored 16 points as Nansemond River scored a commanding 87-57 win over Indian River in the semifinals of the Southeastern District tournament on Friday. Jerome Burgess had 14 points and Fred Spratley 13 for the Warriors, and Eric Joe pulled down 14 rebounds. At 7:45 tonight, the Warriors have a chance to win consecutives tournament titles for the first time in school history, and Cooke, now 88 points shy of Antoine Willie’s school-record of 2,114, may become the first player in district history to be named to the All-Tournament team all four years of his high school career.
NRHS, which never trailed, jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first two minutes, but the Braves fought back, getting to 27-23 with 3:50 to play in the first half. Cooke gunned a pair of assists to Burgess and hit a jumper himself to increase the lead to 10, and Joe and Keith Josey rattled in three points in the last :24 to finish the half above 39-25. The Braves wouldn’t score more than four consecutive points until the last four minutes.
Spratley, Wilson, Cooke and Burgess led their team on a 13-2, 2:30 run to go up 57-33, and Cooke, Burgess and Wilson knocked in nine straight to open the final period. Thomas Scott, Justin Sorensen and Chris Willism scored nine of the team’s last 11 points.