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Lakewood gets past Lady Demons, 40-27
L-ES MIKIAH DUNCAN PREPARES to send a pass while being guarded by Lakewoods Serena Choice during Tuesdays game. - photo by Tom Didato

Von Duncan is no different than any other coach who wants nothing more for her Lugoff-Elgin girls’ basketball team than to put all facets of the game together each night and let the chips fall where they may.

Tuesday night, Duncan’s Lady Demons put together one of their best defensive efforts of the season only to have the offense and free throw shooting be their downfall in a 40-27 loss to visiting Region 6-4A rival Lakewood.

“When the defense works, the offense doesn’t. It’s tit-for-tat,” Duncan said of her team’s battles with Murphy’s Law this season. “We’re still trying to get it all to come together.”

The loss came in the penultimate game of the season for L-E which tried to avoid a winless conference campaign on Thursday when Hartsville paid a visit to the Demons Den.

As has been the case all too many times this season, the Lady Demons trailed by a pair, 9-7, after one quarter only to see Lakewood use a 17-9 second quarter to pull away to a 26-16 halftime lead. 

Trailing, 36-21, after three stanzas, L-E held the Lady Gators to just four fourth quarter points but were only table to chop two points off their third quarter deficit.

“We’ve been struggling with executing with the basketball,” Duncan said of her team’s offensive problems. “I don’t know if we’re thinking too much because we’re getting good looks at the basket and we’re actually shooting the ball. At one time, we weren’t even shooting the ball when we had good looks so that’s a step in the right direction right there.

“We are getting the ball to the open player and getting good looks. I’m pretty proud of them for that.”

The hostesses came out clicking in the early going on Tuesday, jumping to a 7-1 lead in the first four-plus minutes.  Caitlyn Simon’s basket off a loose ball was followed by a short jumper from Emma Branham and a free throw and a stickback from Brooke Grant which gave L-E its six-point advantage.

Lakewood would close the first eight minutes of play on an 8-0 run which turned into a 16-2 spree when a Treasure Smalls 3-point jumper put the visitors on top, 17-9, with 4:38 left in the first half.

Getting a 17-foot jumper from freshman Mikiah Duncan, the Lady Demons went on a spree of their own. The 7-2 rally included a long jumper from Ivey Allen, off an inbounds pass, and guard Jazmin Foster going inside for an easy pair which cut the deficit to 19-16 with two and half minutes remaining before intermission.

LHS would answer by closing the opening half on a 7-0 run which included four points from guard Ki’Ari Cain, whose 15 points led all scorers, and a half-closing 3-ball from Smalls which sent the Lady Gators into the locker room holding a 26-16 advantage.

A jumper from Grant and a Jayla Sullivan putback in the opening three minutes of the third quarter drew the Lady Demons within 28-20. From there, L-E went cold from the field; not scoring a goal for nearly eight minutes. By the time Sullivan scored from close-range to break the spell with 3:24 left in the game, Lakewood had all but put this one away with a 38-21 lead.

Sullivan, who paced the Lady Demons with eight points, added a pair of free throws and a game-closing stickback to round out the scoring.

L-E could have made this a much closer contest but knocked down just five of 16 free throws. That statistic left Duncan shaking her head as her team practices foul shots every day.

“Once again,” she said, “free throws came back to bite us. We’ve been working on free throws and, actually, we have been doing a better job with our free throws. Sometimes, nerves get the best of us and we get out of our groove and we can’t find the basket.”

One constant for the Lady Demons throughout this season is they have never given up. Duncan expected that trend to continue on Thursday and would like nothing better than to end on a high note with an upset of the visiting Lady Red Foxes.

“It’s always important to finish strong,” she said. “You want to finish what you started and you want to better than you were the game before, the practice before, the week before and the hour before. Our job is to get better every day.”

LHS (40): Lashala Harvin 3 3-6 9, Treasure Smalls 3 0-0 8, Ki’Ari Cain 6 2-5 15, Serena Choice 2 0-0 4, Valencia Croom 2 0-0 4, Haley Dickens 0 0-2 0. Totals: 16 5-13 40

L-E (27): Caitlyn Simon 1 1-1 3, Emma Branham 1 1-2 3, Brooke Grant 1 1-2 3, Gabby Powers 1 0-0 2, Mikiah Duncan 1 0-4 2, Ivey Allen 1 0-1 2, Jazmin Foster 2 0-2 4, Jayla Sullivan 3 2-4 8. Totals: 11 5-16 27

Score by quarters: First: LHS, 9-7; Halftime: LHS, 26-16; Third: LHS, 36-21; Three-point goals: LHS 3 (Smalls 2, Cain), L-E none