Lakeland defeats King’s Fork

Published 6:02 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

By Matthew Hatfield


In front of a packed to capacity crowd at The Kennel in Suffolk, the Lakeland Cavaliers turned a nail-biter into a double-digit win on Friday night against the host King’s Fork Bulldogs in the Holiday Tournament.

Email newsletter signup

Tied with the Bulldogs at 34-apiece entering the fourth quarter, Lakeland outscored their Southeastern District counterparts 25-15 during the final eight minutes. That 59-49 win moved them to 6-1 overall and earned them a spot in Saturday night’s championship of the King’s Fork Holiday Tournament against another city rival, Nansemond River.

“I’m definitely pleased with the outcome and the way we played down the stretch. I thought it could potentially be an overtime deal,” said Lakeland head coach Clint Wright. “We did do a great job of hitting shots when we needed to and got some timely stops.”

There were no two bigger shots than the three-pointers from junior guard Keimari Artis early in the fourth quarter to take Lakeland from down a couple of points to ahead 42-38.

“We were hungry for a win. We lost to Great Bridge our last game and they had beat Oscar Smith, so we had to do whatever it took to get a win,” said Artis, the game’s leading scorer with 21 points. “As a team, anybody can step up and give us that performance. Tonight it was just me.”

Neither team put forth a glossy shooting exhibition — Lakeland converted just 33.3 percent from the field (17-of-51) and King’s Fork only 25.8 percent on its shots (16-of-62) — yet the fans got a back-and-forth battle that didn’t lack for excitement, with several ties and lead changes throughout.

“Coming in, we knew that there was going to be a lot of people coming out here and wanted to put a show on for them,” said Lakeland junior Ray Bellamy, who had eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter to go along with six assists and five rebounds.

Down 13-11 after one quarter of play, King’s Fork picked things up considerably in the second period, especially right before halftime. The Bulldogs closed the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 25-20 lead, with the last five points coming from junior guard Tyler Chatman.

For the Cavs, it was about forcing quick shots away from the basket and dominating the backboards inside. Part of that process meant containing King’s Fork’s leading scorer.

“We knew if we cut off the head of the snake — Keontae Boyette — that we’d probably have a good chance of winning the game,” Bellamy added.

Boyette still managed to lead the Bulldogs in points with 15, but was held without a field goal in the fourth quarter.

“We made poor decisions at the wrong times. They put us on our heels by attacking us. I thought Clint did a great job of switching things up and making someone other than Boyette beat them,” King’s Fork head basketball coach Rick Hite said in assessing the game.

“I thought they would come with different zones and try to control the tempo. It was up to us to get stops, but we fouled them way too much and could never get a real flow. I just have to put us in better positions to be successful.”

Lakeland used the free-throw line more to its advantage, converting 20-for-35 at the charity stripe compared to just 11-for-18 for the Bulldogs. King’s Fork also was out-rebounded 44-35 for the contest.

Keying the rebounding effort for Lakeland were two underclassmen in sophomore Quentin Livingston and freshman Bravion Cample, collecting 13 and 12 boards, respectively.

“We talked about protecting the paint and crowding. We knew they liked to get a lot of straight-line drives and wanted to limit those,” remarked Wright.

“Very few players come around that often like a Bravion Cample. He’s very light on his feet and brings so much from leadership. Any team would love to have that inside force.”

King’s Fork dropped to 6-2 with the game but won Saturday’s consolation matchup against Smithfield.