Lakeland routs Heritage

Published 9:21 pm Monday, January 6, 2020

By Matthew Hatfield


Just three minutes into their contest with the Heritage Hurricanes of Newport News, the Lakeland Cavaliers basketball team got the fans in attendance at the Bruin Classic held at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake on their feet cheering. That’s because Keimari Artis found teammate Raymond Bellamy on a cross-court alley-oop dunk.

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Lakeland jumped out to an 8-0 lead and never looked back in manhandling Heritage, 67-44. Earning game MVP honors was senior guard Raymond Bellamy, who filled the stat sheet with 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

“It’s effortless, and I see it all the time. I am not surprised at the level this guy plays at,” Lakeland Coach Clint Wright Sr. noted. “(He’s) a very versatile combo guard that can do all of the intangibles that are necessary of a point guard. Ray also gives that leadership. That’s why he plays a majority of the minutes.”

The first six points were scored by Shawn Mitchell. Along with Tyshawn Allen and Cam Hargraves, the Cavaliers received 19 points and 19 rebounds from their three main contributors in the low post area.

“We’ve got some post players that we want to take advantage of, guys that have some skill-set down on the block. We wanted to get them involved early,” Wright said. “We felt like if we’ve got teams playing us honest defending our post, then our guards will have a much more fluid basketball game.”

From there, Bellamy and Keimari Artis — who was a candidate for MVP honors with 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals — did the rest in not allowing Heritage to draw close. Maybe most impressive for Bellamy is the fact he didn’t commit a single turnover the whole night.

“A win is a win for us. I just try to go out and make every play that I can,” Bellamy said. “I’ve always been a point guard and able to pass the ball. Some of that comes natural for me. Things were clicking for us.”

Getting up 10 points at the end of the opening stanza and 17 by half-time allowed Wright to empty his bench.

“We want growth,” Wright said. “There was a spurt where we thought they were going to make a little run, so we had to re-insert the starters just to make sure we capped it off. But I want those guys to get the practical experience necessary to be successful down the season.”

Lakeland used 11 players, 10 of whom scored. They held Heritage to 1-of-17 shooting from three-point range.

“Everybody on this team can play,” said Bellamy. “Whether it’s a starter or somebody off the bench, we’re all expected to do the same thing: put points up and play defense. So it’s no surprise when everybody comes together and plays basketball.”

Now 7-2 overall, Lakeland faces one of their biggest tests yet when they host rival King’s Fork on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are coming off their first loss of the season, which came at the hands of Class 5 contender Norview in a showcase at Kempsville last Saturday, and play another highly ranked team at Green Run in the Classic coming up on Friday.

Even with other high-profile matchups on the docket, Wright expects the Bulldogs to come in plenty motivated and hungry for the battle.

“King’s Fork is one of the more talented teams in the state I think. By being a rival, that gives us a chance. We’re not going to go in there with the fear factor. We’re just going to go with the willingness to play,” Wright said.

“(Coach) Hite does a great job of getting those guys ready. I don’t know if we’re going to catch them by surprise. I think it’s just a matter of us playing an efficient basketball game.”