by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
There would be no toying with the Trojans this time.
After edging Essex by only three points in each of the regular season games, Lancaster decided to win decisively when it counted.
The Red Devils outscored the Trojans by 10 in the third quarter and held on for a 77-69 win for the Conference #43 tournament championship last Saturday before an overflow crowd, numbering more than a 1,000 at LHS.
The game lived up to its billing in the first half when Essex took an early lead. The shooters wowed the crowd, putting on a three-point clinic with Essex and Lancaster hitting a combined four in a two-minute span. Essex actually hit six from outside on the night and Lancaster five.
After trading shots and leads early in the second quarter, Lancaster started to pull away with an 8-0 run that included a couple of hook shots by center Dwayne Ball and two free throws by Calvin Henderson.
Lancaster’s leading rebounder Martez Davis went to the bench early in the second quarter in foul trouble with three. Coach Tim Rice, who has had the luxury of a deep bench all season, rotated 10 different players on the court in the second period and got scoring from 10 on the night. James Coleman, who scored seven for LHS in the final two minutes of the second quarter, led with 14. Davis, despite sitting the bench for over a quarter, finished with 11 and Christian Sutton had 10.
Coleman scored eight in the second half and Sutton put up six in the third quarter when Lancaster went on a 22-12 run to take a 58-44 lead. Lancaster outscored the Trojans, 12-2 in the final three minutes of the period including a three-pointer at the buzzer by TJ Frisby.
Lancaster led by as much as 15, 65-50, with 5:45 to play and was up by 12 with under two minutes to play before giving up a three-pointer to Tamaje’ Jones.
Jones finished with 11 for Essex, which was led by Alex Peterson and KVonte’ Moore, with 17 points each. Terrell Hundley finished with 10.
Lancaster, now 17-3, earned a home berth in this week’s regional tournament and was set to host Franklin on February 21. Essex hosted Northampton.
The winners advance to tonight’s, February 23, semifinals at Cumberland High School. The championship game is Saturday, February 25, at Cumberland.
Colonial Beach 49
In the conference semifinal, Lancaster shot 70% from the foul line and out-rebounded Colonial Beach, 30-18, in a 62-49 win.
Lancaster opened with back-to-back threes and got off a shot at the first-quarter buzzer to take a seven-point lead early. The LHS offense stalled in the second and the Devils couldn’t find the basket for the first five minutes. Davis finally came up with a stick-back on a missed free throw by Jahlil Nickens with 2:59 remaining and LHS reeled off eight quick points to stay in front of the Drifters by six at the half.
Davis scored five points in a 10-4 run for Lancaster in a two-minute span late in the third as the Devils opened the game to 11, 45-34.
Davis finished with a double-double for LHS with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jay Dillon and Coleman scored three times each from the cheap seats and both finished with 13 points.
Alonzo Turner and AnaJai Lewis led Colonial Beach with 13 points apiece.