Bulldogs escape Cavs in showdown

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Bulldogs boys’ basketball team earned a 70-69 win over the Cavs Tuesday night in an intense matchup.

The Lakeland High School boys’ basketball team hosted King’s Fork High School in the first matchup between the two teams this season. Per usual for Suffolk rivalries, Lakeland’s gym was packed from wall to wall, as many in the Suffolk community came to see what turned out to be a great matchup.

In epic rivalry fashion, both the Cavs and Bulldogs went on to trade baskets with one another throughout the game, with one never having a lead of more than six points. In the first quarter, both teams matched each other’s output and energy, with the Bulldogs barely taking the lead as the first quarter ended at 23-21.

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Tyler Chatman added a couple of three-pointers for the Bulldogs in the first quarter, while Keimari Artis and Lucciano Hamlin were able to combine for a few of their own for Lakeland.

In the second quarter, neither team got much going from behind the arc, but Lakeland was able to capitalize on plays, finishing strong around the rim and earning free throws as well. Lakeland was able to limit Bulldogs star Jayden Epps somewhat throughout the first half; however, the Bulldogs were able to make enough plays to keep their small lead. The Bulldogs held a 37-36 lead at halftime.

“Epps got in some foul trouble with Lakeland doing a good job crowding him,” Bulldogs Coach Rick Hite said. “The biggest thing is playing sound fundamental basketball, and we had some other guys step up.”

The second half did not lack for intensity. Lakeland went on to sustain its first lead of the game in the second half off of some strong shooting from behind the arc in the third. They outscored King’s Fork 19-17 in the third quarter, effectively holding a 55-54 heading into the fourth. Both teams continued to trade baskets in the fourth quarter, with Lakeland holding off on the Bulldogs. Artis and Chatman both equally continued to deliver.

“We were able to maintain our pace,” Cavs Coach Clint Wright Sr. said. “We felt real comfortable where we were just going into the half. Just throughout the game, we did some things really well and felt like they kept us from doing some other things as well.”

Down the stretch, the Bulldogs were able to make a couple more plays to put themselves in position to take the lead back. With 16 seconds left in the game, Epps sank two free throws to give the Bulldogs a one-point lead. Lakeland had one chance at a game-winner but was unable to get it.

Epps finished with a game-high 24 points, while Chatman added 18, with 12 coming from behind the arc. Artis finished with 21 to lead Lakeland. Tyshawn Allen added 12, and Hamlin finished with 10.

King’s Fork goes to 9-1 while Lakeland goes 7-3.

“We did a good job competing,” Hite said. “We didn’t always make the right decisions or make some shots, but we competed. Lakeland did a good job getting us out of some stuff we wanted to do, but we competed well. It was a great atmosphere the whole night.”