Cavs lose close game to Hickory

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, February 2, 2013

Grassfield High School excelled during a pivotal third quarter on Friday night that ultimately doomed an increasingly short-handed Lakeland boys’ basketball team. In a game that held postseason implications, the Cavaliers lost at home 66-64.

“They won the mental battle,” Lakeland head coach Clint Wright said of Grassfield.

Lakeland senior forward Raequan Miller puts up a shot against Grassfield on Friday night. The Cavaliers fell 66-64 at home.

On the physical level, he said, the Cavaliers can compete with any basketball team in the district.

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“But at times our mental lapses hurt us more than ever, and it was evident last night (that) some of the mental lapses really transitioned into baskets for them,” he said.

This issue was particularly evident when Lakeland started out the final period in a major hole.

“The third quarter, I thought, was the telling tale of the basketball game,” Wright said. “We got down as much as 15 points going into the fourth, and I thought that they truly won that (third) quarter.”

Lakeland’s mental lapses included “unforced turnovers, guys attempting to do a little bit too much, actually thinking the basketball game,” he said. “A lot of times, we play basketball, and things have to become instinctive.”

The Cavaliers also missed easy buckets in transition, possibly because of a lack of focus or fatigue, Wright said.

“Come the fourth quarter, we got back within three and even tied it up, and then, once again, unforced turnovers, lack of execution,” he said.

Another relevant issue for the Cavaliers was their roster, which has recently shrunk.

“We’re down to nine players now,” Wright said. “We have a few injuries and then some players that are not available at this time and some significant players that we have relied on throughout the year that are no longer with us.”

Standout freshman forward Jaquan Yulee was out with a turf toe injury, though Wright hopes to have him back by Monday.

Additionally, senior guard Antonio Jefferson and junior forward Marche Everett have left the team for reasons they did not disclose to Coach Wright.

Wright acknowledges Lakeland’s hopes of qualifying for postseason play this season are dim, but the team will press on.

The Cavaliers (8-13, 5-11) will travel to King’s Fork (16-4, 13-3) on Tuesday for a rematch, as the Bulldogs come off a 54-37 Friday night victory on the road against Hickory.