Cavs answer pressure for district win

Published 7:53 pm Saturday, December 19, 2009

Much of the fourth quarter was ugly for Lakeland on Friday night at home against Southeastern District foe Hickory. The Cavaliers went for 5:18 of the period without a field goal.

When the Hawks pulled ahead and the clock ticked down toward two minutes left though, Lakeland answered the pressure and won the game with a 10-2 run giving the Cavs a 58-51 win.

“Everything we go through right now, we haven’t been through it. We haven’t done that. Everything’s vital experience for us,” said Lakeland head coach James Jones.

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The Cavaliers have only two returning players from last year’s varsity team and the starting frontcourt for Jones is just one example of the team’s youth.

At the same time though, sophomore forwards Rodney Goodman and Marichal Walden showed Friday night why Lakeland (2-4, 2-4) could rebound quickly from winning only one of its first five games this season. Goodman, who’s been Lakeland’s leading scorer through much of the season so far, led the Cavs with 17 points. Walden did a lot of the hustle work on Friday, totaling nine points, 14 rebounds and one critical blocked shot.

Lakeland led 47-34 with 6:03 left in the game before managing only one point in the next 3:47. Hickory took the lead, 49-48, with 2:26 to go. A free throw by Shaquille Wilson tied the score 10 seconds later.

The teams traded a couple scoreless possessions each and the Hawks thought they had a defensive rebound and a timeout with just over a minute to go. A Hawk player dove on the floor to get the ball and Hickory coach Shane Smith was yelling for a timeout, but to no avail as the officials called traveling before seeing or hearing Smith. It was typical of the night for Smith, who was frustrated with the officials for much of the game.

Instead, on the ensuing Cavalier possession, Walden was fouled and made two free throws to give Lakeland a 51-49 lead.

On Hickory’s next trip down court, Walden blocked a short jumper in the lane that could’ve tied the game. Walden’s block led right into a fast break for the Cavs and Wilson scored on a lay-up with 0:45 left.

Point guard Josh Beck made 4-of-4 free throws in the next 0:23 to seal the victory for Lakeland. The final minute of action had the balanced team effort the Cavs showed throughout the contest.

It was a game of runs right from the start. Hickory got out to a 5-0 lead and held Lakeland scoreless for more than three minutes.

A three-pointer by Goodman made it 8-8 at the 3:00 mark of the first period and the Cavaliers kept rolling to a 20-11 lead at the period’s end.

The second period was an 8-8 tie. Lakeland held the Hawks to 25 percent field-goal shooting (6-of-24) and forced 10 Hickory turnovers.

Hickory started strong to open the second half, cutting Lakeland’s lead down to 33-31. A driving basket and a 15-foot jumper by Wilson rebuilt Lakeland’s lead to 37-31, but the Hawks scored three straight baskets to tie the game, 37-37, with 1:17 left in the period.

Goodman drained a three-pointer from deep the right corner and was fouled on the release. He made the free throw for the four-point play and the Cavaliers led 41-37 after three quarters.

Lakeland kept the run going with six points in the first 1:57 of the fourth period, but just when the Cavaliers seemed to be putting the game out of reach, momentum switched again. Hickory fought back to take a brief one-point lead. The Cavs had the last run of the night, though, something perhaps of a pleasant surprise from a team mostly made up of rookies to the varsity level.

“They haven’t lost confidence. They work hard and there’s good comradeship among the guys,” said Jones.

Lakeland finished with an 18-13 advantage in turnovers. After Goodman’s 17 points, Wilson finished with 14 points. Beck had 11 points, four steals and four assists.

“Josh (Beck) has moved up from JV to varsity and, for any point guard coming up to varsity, this is such a tough league. We ask a lot of him,” said Jones.

Next up for the Cavs is a meeting versus Maury at Norfolk Scope on Wednesday at 7 p.m. There are a total of 10 games, five each day, in the Norfolk Holiday Classic at Norfolk Scope on Tuesday and Wednesday, including the Lady Cavaliers (3-3, 3-3) vs. Maury on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. Norfolk Scope will host the Eastern Region Tournament in February.