End­ing Jan­uary on hot streak

Lackey boys hold off Stone, sweeps sea­son series

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MASON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

The Lackey boys bas­ket­ball team has opened some eyes around the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence this sea­son.

It may have opened up a few more af­ter grind­ing out a 55-51 win over vis­it­ing Thomas Stone on Fri­day night in a SMAC Po­tomac Di­vi­sion con­test to com­plete the sea­son sweep.

The Charg­ers (14-2, 6-1 SMAC Po­tomac), who edged Stone in the first meet­ing 59-58 on Jan. 4 have won six straight games — end­ing the month with only one loss in eight con­tests — which came at the hands of North Point, 82-73 on Jan. 6.

Lackey is sched­uled to take on host North Point in a di­vi­sion re­match at 6:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

“Be able to beat [Stone] is big for us. They’ve been suc­cess­ful over the years and have a great pro­gram with [head] coach Dale [Lam­berth],” said Lack- ey head coach Sean Fox, whose team is tied with West­lake atop the di­vi­sion stand­ings and has the best over­all record in SMAC. “Any time you can sneak out two wins against them is a plus. We were just happy to hang on tonight.”

Lackey held dou­ble-digit leads in the third and fourth quar­ters, but Stone cut the deficit to sin­gle dig­its each time. How­ever, the Charg­ers were able to fend off those runs with key bas­kets in tran­si­tion and key free-throw shoot­ing, knock­ing down 25 of 31 at­tempts (81 per­cent) for the game.

“It has been a huge em-

pha­sis for us at prac­tice these last few weeks,” said Fox, re­fer­ring to his team’s free-throw shoot­ing. “We re­ally strug­gled ear­lier in the sea­son, so al­most ev- ery­day at prac­tice we cre­ate pres­sure free throws and it proved help­ful in the game [tonight].”

Stone (11-5, 4-3), which has had 10 games de­cided by 10 points or less this sea­son, trailed 45-34 mid­way through the fourth, but went to on a 9-2 run to cut the Charg­ers to four on a pull-up jumper from Ka- mau Mitchell (team-high 15 points).

Lackey went back on top 49-43 af­ter a pair of free throws by se­nior guard Ha­keem Everett with 2 min­utes 30 sec­onds left. How­ever, at the 2:17 mark, Everett was called for his fifth per­sonal foul.

With Lackey lead­ing 52-47 with 1:17 left, Stone would come to within three points on an­other Mitchell bucket with 50 sec­onds left, but would not come any closer as more Charg­ers free throws ce­mented the home win.

Lackey had three play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures as se­nior guard Vin­cent Parker led the way with 15 points, ju­nior for­ward James Wilk- er­son fin­ished with 14 and Everett added 12.

Everett and Parker were a com­bined 14 for 14 from the free-throw line.

The score was tied at 8 af­ter the first quar­ter and Stone led 19-17 at the half.

Down 21-19 to start the third, Lackey ex­ploded for a 19-0 run that was capped by a three-pointer from Parker with 3 1/2 min­utes left in the pe­riod.

“It all started in prac­tice and our prepa­ra­tion. We push each other,” Parker said. “Coach [Fox] told us it was go­ing to be a big game and we wanted it in the end. The sec­ond half we picked it up de­fen­sively and we made some big shots. I love my team we are a fam­ily.”

Se­nior guard Dis­hon Blake help spur the run with seven straight points.

“We were in a bit of a scor­ing drought in the first half,” Blake said. “As a team cap­tain, I wanted to step up for my team and hit big shots and put the team on my back. I had missed two free throws to­wards the end of the game, but my team­mates lifted me up and we pulled out the win.”

Stone re­sponded with a 9-0 run to cut the Lackey lead to 38-30 en­ter­ing the fi­nal pe­riod. Lackey out- scored Stone 21-11 in the third.

With­out sopho­more starter for­ward and lead­ing scorer Gary Grant due to an ill­ness, Stone was dealt a blow to its in- side scor­ing. But Mitchell, sopho­more guard Kevin Skid­more (14 points) and se­nior guard Dono­van McCrae (8 points) to an­chor the of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion.

“It wasn’t a se­cret. We knew it was go­ing to be a tough game,” said Lam­berth, whose team outscored Lackey 21-17 in the fourth. “We just weren’t phys­i­cally or men­tally tough for the first two min­utes of the third quar­ter. They got some easy bas­kets and that is what set the tone for them. In the fourth quar­ter we set­tled down and did what we do. Lackey just made a few plays at the end.”

Stone hosts West­lake at 6:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day. West­lake won the first meet­ing over the Cougars 78-70 on Jan. 6.

PHOTO BY JERRY BALLENGEE

Lackey se­nior guard Ha­keem Everett drives to the bas­ket for the layup as Jalen Best-Pay­ton of Thomas Stone chal­lenges the shot at­tempt in Fri­day night’s SMAC Po­tomac Di­vi­sion boys bas­ket­ball con­test. Lackey won the game 55-51.

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