Lakeland snaps losing streak

Published 11:59 pm Friday, December 28, 2012

Lakeland halted a six-game losing streak with a 70-56 win over Salem in each team’s second game of the second annual Bulldog Christmas Tournament at King’s Fork High School on Friday.

“We played hard,” senior guard Samson Worrell said. “We came out with the intensity that we needed to get out of this slump.”

Lakeland senior Dexter Davis takes a shot near the perimeter. He had 10 points in the Cavaliers' 70-56 win over Salem in the second annual Bulldog Christmas Tournament at King's Fork High School on Friday.

Lakeland (5-6, 2-5) opened the season with a 4-0 week a month ago, but had been winless since. Cavaliers head coach Clint Wright particularly relished win number five.

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“I’m glad to say that number,” he said. “Of course, last year they won five total games, so with that one more we will improve somewhat.”

Lakeland, still learning a new system under Wright, was back on the court and performing well a day after falling to Woodside 83-57.

“I cannot stress the importance of these guys running a new style, a new voice from last year,” Wright said. “But I’m very proud, very proud of the way we responded after last night’s loss.”

The Cavaliers broke things open in the second quarter with strong defense and a flurry of offense. Worrell had three of his four three-pointers in the period and senior guard Dexter Davis punctuated the half with a layup as time expired, making it 39-22.

Lakeland extended the lead to 54-34 going into the final eight minutes of play. Salem came within 14 with about two minutes remaining, and Wright decided to bring some starters back in to ensure the win.

Worrell led the Cavaliers with 19 points coming off the bench.

“Finally, Samson has surfaced,” Wright said. “I told him that I wasn’t impressed because I know he can do that. That’s something that he does all the time in practice. He came off and really was a phenomenal spark.”

Wright was pleased with the results of the rotation he used in the game, but he did not know if he would stick with bringing Worrell off the bench.

The strategy seems to have helped Worrell.

“It made me more motivated to get out and to help my team,” he said.

Freshman guard Jaquan Yulee had 14 points and 17 rebounds and is now a starter for the Cavs.

“Yulee has migrated in because of his work ethic,” Wright said. “Of course, we’re taking him out of his element — he’s a football player, and we all know that. But some of the dynamics that he brings from a basketball perspective — the toughness, the ability to rebound, just sheer effort — you get rewarded for your efforts and things of that nature, and he’s bringing all of that into one on this ball club.”

Davis ended up with 10 points, senior guard Antonio Jefferson had nine points and four steals and freshman forward Deonta Knight had 12 rebounds.

Lakeland will play its final game of the tournament today against Menchville at 4:45 p.m.