Cavs win on fourth-quarter run

Published 6:53 pm Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lakeland’s senior guard Antonio Jefferson capped a thrilling comeback on Friday to help the Cavaliers nip visiting Grassfield 61-58.

Jefferson scored the deciding three points in the final minute of play, finishing off a comeback that had started with about five minutes remaining in the game, when Lakeland trailed by as many as 12 points.

“I was very pleased with the execution of the offense the last five minutes of the game,” Cavaliers head coach Clint Wright said. “I shared with those guys, ‘Yeah, we would love to win by 30 or 40 points, but the goal is to win by one.’”

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Victory did not appear to be around the corner midway through the fourth quarter.

“For some reason, we started executing, running the plays the way they were designed, getting the shots that were necessary, and next thing you know, the game was tied up,” Wright said. “We called a timeout, called one of our favorite plays, the guys executed it to perfection.

With 34 seconds to go, Jefferson scored on a layup, his only field goal for the game. Lakeland followed up with a steal, Jefferson made one of two free throws and the clock ran out.

Freshman forward Deonta Knight had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and senior forward Raequan Miller had 12 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Jaquan Yulee was also vital to the effort.

“He didn’t have his double-double night, but he was very instrumental with eight rebounds,” Wright said.

This win, the sixth this season, had special significance for Wright and the Cavaliers.

“Monumental,” Wright said. “I was well pleased with the sixth win. Of course, we won five all of last year, so we can say there’s been some moderate improvement with the games.”

Wright said he talked with his team about the need for a sense of urgency in this game.

“We really needed this ball game in an effort to get where we want to get and to keep our goals intact,” he said.

Lakeland (6-7, 3-5) will host city rival King’s Fork (9-3, 6-2) on Tuesday.