Lakeland handles Grizzlies from long range

Published 10:26 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

Lakeland made 10 of 17 three-point shots, led by five treys and 30 points in all from Justin Watson, to beat Grassfield 67-53 Friday night at Lakeland.

Watson picked up most of the scoring slack as the Cavalier played without senior guard David Barnes.

“It was a good thing too, because we’re talking about the leading scorer in the Tidewater area,” said Lakeland head coach James Jones of the 5-foot-8 Barnes.

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“Before the game, everyone just talked about doing it as a team. That’s what a team does. Everyone just said they would do a little bit more.

The first half was played at a fast pace by both sides, which suited the guard-heavy, extra-quick Cavaliers.

Watson and Tony Smith took care of most of the offense as both guards scored 16 points in the first half and Lakeland held a 47-32 lead at the break. Smith canned four threes and Watson hit three as Lakeland made 8 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first half. Lakeland’s largest lead was 40-18 after a Smith three with 3:45 to go in the half.

The Grizzlies closed the margin to 10, 53-43, with two minutes to go in the third period, but that was as much pressure as Grassfield could muster on the Cavs. Another Watson three-pointer sparked a short, but key, Cavalier run as the third quarter ended with a 58-43 Lakeland lead.

Watson finished with 30 points and five rebounds. Dekese Cowling’s nine rebounds and Jaquay Beamon’s seven rebounds helped the shorter Cavaliers finish with a 33-32 edge on the boards. Smith finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.

C.J. Cowling filled in Barnes’ spot in the starting five. Cowling finished with four points and five assists.

“He slowed down a little bit and did what we needed him to do,” said Jones. “He was patient and did a good job of running our offense and our defense.”

Lakeland (12-3, 11-1) hosts Oscar Smith on Tuesday evening.