Ending January on hot streak
Lackey boys hold off Stone, sweeps season series
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.
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.