Cavaliers rout Bruins to open season

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Lakeland High School boys’ basketball team burst out of the starting gate on Tuesday night, opening up a lead that it built on for the majority of the game against visiting Western Branch High School.

Cavaliers coach Clint Wright put in his reserves in the latter stages of the contest, and the Bruins also gained some momentum, but not nearly enough to avoid the loss, as Lakeland won 71-54.

Lakeland High School senior guard Daquan Boyette looks for two against visiting Western Branch High School on Tuesday evening. The Cavaliers won 71-54.

Lakeland High School senior guard Daquan Boyette looks for two against visiting Western Branch High School on Tuesday evening. The Cavaliers won 71-54.

“I think it’s just a testament of our summer,” Wright said on Wednesday, noting seven or eight of his players played together during the summer. “What we did last night was what we did basically throughout the summer.”

Email newsletter signup

Wright communicated respect for Western Branch coach Paul Hall and his program, noting the future is bright for the young Bruins squad.

“Last night, they just ran into a senior savvy team that’s moderately hungry at this time,” Wright said.

The Cavs were up 26-11 at the end of the first quarter, 45-19 at halftime and 61-30 after three quarters.

It was a strong showing from a squad that Wright said has retained balance despite losing six seniors from last year’s team — Kenya Latham, Larry Everett, Irvin Ashburn, Terry Mitchell, John Scott and Wesley Arrington.

This year’s Lakeland team features five seniors, seven juniors and three sophomores and will look to improve on the 2014 Cavaliers’ 12-12 season that ended in the conference tournament semifinals.

“I’m really excited about this year’s team,” Wright said. “Definitely some of the seniors have been in the program for about three years now and have a good idea of what I like to do.”

The coach said he thinks Lakeland can match up with the best of opponents, and it will have some real tests this season in its new conference.

Conference 27 also includes Booker T. Washington, Phoebus, Tabb and York high schools and last year’s Group 4A state champion I.C. Norcom High School.

Norcom returns its star trio that helped defeat King’s Fork High School in the state final, but Wright said nobody is ready to hand over this year’s 3A title to the Greyhounds.

Lakeland’s efforts this season will be led by a group of six standout players.

“Ultimately, Deonta Knight will be the leader on the floor,” Wright said of his star senior forward that has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for Lakeland.

Knight started the season about 56 points away from 1,000 for his career, and on Tuesday, he contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“But he’s surrounded by some significant players,” Wright said, alluding first to junior guard Jerry Goodman.

Wright expects Goodman to average points in double figures and to hand out a lot of assists.

Goodman turned in a remarkable performance on Tuesday, with 21 points and six assists.

Senior guard Qurante Budd will once again bring his strong shooting this year, and 6-foot-6-inch senior forward Xzaevious Brown will bring a more polished offensive skillset in addition to his established rebounding and shot-blocking abilities.

Wright indicated that senior guard Jamonte Ricks has channeled his game to become a multi-purpose player, and the coach said Ricks “could possibly be the unsung hero of this particular season.”

He produced 17 points and 13 rebounds on Tuesday.

Senior guard Daquan Boyette got a late start to basketball practice because of football but is expected to bring his energy of getting to the cup and his finishing skills.

Lakeland (1-0, 0-0) hosts Oscar Smith High School on Friday and travels to Kecoughtan High School on Saturday for a tournament.