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Cavs hope hard work overcomes youth

There’s three main things Lakeland head basketball coach James Jones already knows about his Cavaliers, even though it’s a little more than a week into the schedule.

First, &uot;We work extremely hard in practice.

Our practices have been extremely intense, and that’s been a good thing for us.&uot;

Second, &uot;Our guys are finding out about what it is to be a team.&uot;

On that point, it’s sort of amazing the Cavaliers are already making good progress on down that road.

Lakeland’s varsity team has 10 new players on it from last season, a season which saw the Cavaliers struggle at times, finishing seventh in the Southeastern District’s regular season; but also thrive toward season’s end, as Lakeland’s upset of Deep Creek in the district tournament earned them a regional berth.

And the third thing Coach Jones already knows, &uot;We’re going out each night and competing as a unit and not as individuals.

&uot;The guys are learning very quickly what it means to go to bat for each other, to have each other’s backs, and that’s been really positive so far.&uot;

Returners such as Jeleel Nelson, Durrell Skeeter, Voyland Cooke and Darren Copeland are important leaders for Jones.

Nelson, Skeeter and Cooke, Jones said, are &uot;right now my most talented and most experienced guys.&uot;

Nelson scored 21 and Cooke scored 16, including the game-winning lay-up with two seconds to go, in Lakeland’s 61-60 win over Great Bridge Friday night.

Copeland, Jones said, &uot;is always going to score for us, but now he’s trying to make the transition to be our point guard, and it’s new to him.&uot;

It’s all new faces though on the inside.

Jones said guys such as Dominique Morgan, LaMont Skeeter, Mario Hunter and Rontrell Parker will be learning on the fly.

&uot;All four are sophomores.

They have to develop quickly to give us some sort of inside presence.&uot;

Durrell Skeeter, one of the Cavalier captains along with Jeffrey Cook and Voyland Cooke, said &uot;our goals are the same as everybody else’s, and that’s to get to state.&uot; Lakeland hasn’t done that all millennium.

&uot;We’ve learned we have to play all four quarters.

So far we’ve usually played hard in the first half and then relaxed some in the second half.&uot;

This upcoming week is a busy one for the Cavaliers.

Tonight, Lakeland hosts Western Branch at 7 p.m.

The Cavaliers then play three consecutive nights beginning Thursday at Hickory, Friday at home versus Indian River, then Saturday at King’s Fork versus Norcom.