Cavs advance with defense and style

Published 11:46 pm Monday, February 17, 2014

The defense of Lakeland High School’s boys’ basketball team paved the way for the Cavaliers to put on an offensive showcase Monday night in the quarterfinals of the Ironclad Conference tournament.

No. 4-seeded Lakeland faced No. 5 Denbigh High School for the third time this season. The Cavs were looking for their first win against the Patriots, and they had fun in finding it.

Lakeland High School’s Marche’ Everette plays aggressively against Denbigh High School during the Cavaliers’ 65-57 win in Monday’s conference tournament quarterfinals.

Lakeland High School’s Marche’ Everette plays aggressively against Denbigh High School during the Cavaliers’ 65-57 win in Monday’s conference tournament quarterfinals.

An effective press on Denbigh defined the game. Then came no-look assists and successful drives by junior Kenya Latham, domination inside by senior Marche’ Everette and sophomore Deonta Knight and deft finishes by senior Markese Wright and sophomore Daquan Boyette.

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The crowd-pleasing performance added up to a 65-57 Cavaliers win at King’s Fork High School.

“We’ve had that potential all season,” Lakeland head coach Clint Wright said of his team’s offensive and defensive flourish.

Had the Cavs lost, their season would have been over. Wright asked his players before the game if they were ready for it to end tonight, and their play gave an assured response.

“We just came out with a sense of urgency, in essence, refusing to lose,” Wright said.

They trailed 8-6 after a low-scoring first quarter, but led 28-16 by halftime because they pressed the Patriots for the first time and knocked them out of their comfort zone.

Latham made them pay on the other end.

“I felt like I was able to distribute the ball to the scorers and get to the cup very well,” he said, after racking up 12 assists, along with six points on three impressive drives to the hoop.

“He’s such a talent that to see him play that way tonight was relieving,” Wright said.

Latham credits his inspiration for employing the no-look pass to a recently graduated local player.

“Dre Demiel always used to do it when I was little,” he said. Then, for Latham, “It just became a habit.”

Everette used aggressive play, a light shooting touch and alertness to Latham’s habit to lead the team with 20 points, in addition to five rebounds. Deonta Knight recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

No. 4 Lakeland (11-12) will face No. 1 Nansemond River High School (19-3) in the conference tournament semifinals on Wednesday, with a berth in the regional tournament on the line. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at King’s Fork High School.