Cavs beat Truckers for 2-0 start

Published 10:52 pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lakeland Cavaliers followed up a successful season opener Tuesday with a 63-60 win at home against Churchland on Wednesday night.

“I think that this team has evolved tremendously in, really, two basketball games,” Cavaliers head coach Clint Wright said. “I’m thankful that Churchland, they give us that look of press and helter-skelter type basketball. We sometimes strive to play the same way, but I also feel we’ve got a moderate balance with our low-post play.”

Cavaliers junior forward Marche Everett battles the Churchland Truckers under the hoop at Lakeland High School on Wednesday night. Lakeland won the game 63-60. (Melissa Glover photo)

Wright held to his word of playing a fast-paced style that would require playing time from the majority of the roster to keep up. Freshman forward Deonta Knight’s presence under the hoop proved to be key.

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It was a close game, but one in which the Cavaliers were on top most of the time. The Truckers took the lead briefly in the second quarter, but Lakeland senior guard Samson Worrell helped the home team grab a 31-29 halftime lead with a three-pointer as time expired.

With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Truckers tied the game at 44-44, and then Cavaliers freshman Jaquan Yulee went to work. He took a pass from junior guard Dexter Davis and made a layup. Churchland failed to score in response, and Yulee received the ball alone on a fast break and scored again, this time on a dunk that thrilled the home crowd.

After Lakeland built its lead back up, the Truckers closed the gap in the final minute and a half to make for a dramatic finish. The Cavs led 61-53 with 53.5 seconds remaining, but a Churchland three-pointer with 14.6 seconds completed a 7-1 run by the Truckers to make it 62-60.

Lakeland’s Deonta Knight was fouled less than a second later, but he missed both free throws, leaving the door wide open for Churchland. On the other end, the Truckers put up a shot, but it missed.

“I was thinking it was on me, I had to finish it, so I got the rebound,” Knight said.

He was fouled again with 2.7 seconds on the clock. He made one of two, and the Truckers’ comeback attempt fell short. Knight finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

“I felt like we played good,” he said. “They played good, too, but we’re the better team. That’s how I feel.”

Wright felt great about the win, but acknowledged a particular area of needed improvement.

“We got to better close games out, though,” he said. “In order to beat the big, elite basketball teams in the district, you’ve got to be able to close teams out, and I think we will be there soon. Just have to wait and see.”

Dexter Davis, who led Lakeland with 14 points, related what he thought helped the team regain the lead after the second quarter and hold onto it for the majority of the game.

“Really, just keeping pressure on the ball, and my teammates cheering me on, and everybody playing as a unit,” he said.

Senior guard Seveante Williams had 12 points, and junior forward Marche Everett and Worrell had eight apiece.

Wright saw conditioning as playing an important role, noticing fatigue on the Churchland side. The game was hard-fought throughout and particularly as it neared its conclusion.

“And so when things happen like that, I don’t think my guys look tired,” Wright said. “Got a little weary, but we didn’t look as tired as that team did somewhat, and I think that was also a result of the fact that we’re in great shape.”

Lakeland (2-0, 1-0) takes to the road on Friday night to play against Deep Creek. Then, on Saturday, the Cavs will play their fourth game this week at King’s Fork against Hertford County during the second annual King’s Fork Tip-Off Tournament.