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Late-game spurt carries Knights past Demons

Posted: December 17, 2013 11:59 a.m.
Updated: December 18, 2013 5:00 a.m.

A literal misstep on Lugoff-Elgin’s part turned what could have been a seat-squirming finish into a ho-hum ending.
Trialing host North Central, 39-36, with 2:08 left in Monday’s game at the Castle, the Demons were called for a lane violation on a made free throw. Some 25 seconds later, after a trio of missed layups by the Demons, the Knights used two baskets to extend their lead to seven points before pulling away to a 49-37 win.
The victory gave NC (4-2) the sweep of the season series with its in-county rivals, which fell to 0-7 on the season in a tough-luck loss.
The lane violation and the missed bunnies which followed left first-year Demons boss Garrett Knight shaking his head as he gathered towels left on his team’s bench.
“It snowballed from there,” he said. “We couldn’t hit an outside shot so that we could call a time out and try to set up our defense. We had our best three players miss three straight layups on a fast break. You’re not going to beat anybody when you do that. We just have to get better.
“I thought the effort was there, all the way through. We just have to keep getting better, keep building and try to get out guys some confidence before region play starts.”
Across the way, NC head coach Andy Johnson said his team was “fortunate” to have come away with the win, especially given the Knights’ play in the first half. NC headed to the locker room at the break hanging on to a 23-20 advantage. But the lead was a precarious one.
“We turned the ball over entirely too much in the first half; I think we had 12 turnovers,” Johnson said. “We were out-rebounded, by our count. That’s what we harped on at halftime; taking care of the basketball and giving them one shot.
“We knew they were going to be patient on offense. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half.”
L-E took the lead for the first time since the first six minutes of play when Daniel Quattlebaum scored on a layin and then added a putback for a 27-26 advantage with 4:36 left in the third quarter. Using a layin off the break from William Jenkins and a Lamont Frazier basket, the hosts grabbed the lead back at 31-27 in a third quarter which ended with L-E freshman Elliott Campbell stepping outside for an 18-foot jumper as the buzzer sounded to end the third stanza of play with NC’s lead standing at 31-29.
With three different players contributing to the scoring, the hosts used an 8-4 surge in the first four-plus minutes of the fourth quarter to go on top, 39-33 after Banyon Sullivan’s two free throws with 3:39 left in the game. That came after Sullivan went inside for a pair and before two missed Demon free throw chances.
L-E used a short jumper from Kevin Fields with 2:35 left and then, 28 ticks later, had Quattlebaum at the free throw line to try and make this a one-possession game. Quattlebaum knocked down the first freebie but the guests were whistled for a lane violation on the next as the NC cushion was trimmed to 39-36 with 2:08 to play.
Going inside, the Knights got the ball to center Kawan Hough and the 6-foot-4 senior delivered with a short jumper which was followed by an Antonio Parks layin, after an L-E turnover, which helped put this one away at 43-36 with 1:43 to play.
After having scored 20 points in a win over L-E five nights earlier, the Demons focused their defense on sagging in on Hough. The strategy worked, for a time, as Hough finished with 13 points which tied Sullivan for team honors.
“He hurt us in the second half,” Knight said of Hough. “He didn’t do much in the first half when we, kind of, contained him. We just ran out of steam at the end.”
Johnson said a team casting its defensive attention on Hough is nothing new.
“We knew going in that they were going to focus on Kawan, as we’ve seen this early part of our season,” he said. “We told our guys to be ready to make some shots and create some opportunities. Fortunately, we had some guys make some baskets down the stretch.”
In that stretch run, the Knights received points from five different players, several of whom were “coached up” during breaks by Johnson.
“We have some young athletes on this team,” Johnson said. “As we went down the stretch, I had to gather them a couple times during time outs and explain the situation and when do we shoot and when do we want to be patient with the ball and what’s the foul situation. We have a couple young ones out there and we’re trying to bring them along one game at a time and, one practice at a time.”
The Demons jumped to a 7-5 lead in the first five minutes of play after a pair of Quattlebaum baskets. The hosts closed the opening stanza with 1 6-0 run to carry an 11-7 lead into a second quarter which opened with a Stephon James trey extending the lead to 14-7.
L-E would close the gap to 16-15 on consecutive 10-foot jumpers from Quattlebaum, who led all scorers with 14 points, and Campbell at the 3:30 mark. Getting a pair of Hough baskets in a 6-2 flurry, NC extended its lead to 23-18 before Jamerius Summerson ended the first half scoring with a putback with 16 seconds to go.
In the second half, Knight said the key was his team’s struggles to finish plays on the offensive end. Ultimately, that was the Demons’ downfall.
“The second half,” he said, “we just couldn’t hit the easy shots we needed to for us to stay in the ballgame. That’s what cost us tonight.
“I thought we took a lot better shots tonight than we did on Friday (in a loss to Camden.) We worked on that part of our game a lot on Sunday. We’re doing the little things we need to do to get better. We just have to make the easy shots.”

L-E (37): Aldrecio Wells 2 2-2 7, Daniel Quattlebaum 6 2-3 14, Elliott Campbell 3 0-0 6, Jamerius Summerson 2 0-3 4, Kevin Fields 1 2-3 4, Stacey Patterson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 6-11 37
   NC (49): Omar Johnson 2 2-4 4, William Jenkins 3 1-2 8, Kawan Hough 5 3-7 13, Banyon Sullivan 4 5-6 13, Stephon James 1 0-0 3, Lamont Frazier 3 0-1 6, Antonio Parks 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 11-20 49
   Score by quarters: First: NC, 11-7; Halftime: NC, 23-20; Third: L-E, 31-29; Three-point goals: L-E 1 (Wells), NC 2 (Jenkins, James)

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