Ahead by double digits at the midway point of the third quarter, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for anyone on Lackey’s bench to think the team would be able to cruise to a comfortable win in Monday night’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference nondivision boys basketball game against the visiting Calvert Cavaliers.
That wasn’t how the game’s final 12 minutes played out, though, as the Cavaliers never really went away. The visitors hung around, pulling to within five points in the final period, but the Chargers ultimately fended off any comeback aspirations to hold on for a 59-53 win.
“It wasn’t what we expected,” said Lackey’s Eric Wood, who scored a team-high 14 points. “We took them lightly and they stuck around and stuck around. In the end we pulled it out as a team and it was a big win.”
Buoyed by Mark Rachic’s nine-point first quarter output, Calvert (5-14 overall) led 16-14 at the end of a quarter. But Lackey (10-9) surged in front in the second quarter, and eventually finished the half on a 7-0 run, taking a 29-23 advantage to the break after Wood’s three-pointer just before the buzzer.
Brent Johnson knocked down a three to open the second half scoring and further extend the Chargers’ edge. The hosts later pushed their lead into double digits after Balenga Kabassu’s bucket with 2 minutes 43 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Chargers a 40-29 lead.
Isaiah Foote’s three-point play, followed by another Foote field goal, quickly pulled the Cavaliers back to within 40-34 though Russell Echard and Johnson scored the next two baskets to push the Lackey lead back to 44-34 at the end of three.
Again, Lackey started the fourth quarter with a three, this time from Jadon Carter, to quickly push its lead to 47-34. But Calvert responded with an eight-point run to close the gap to just 47-42 with 5:22 remaining. The Chargers answered with a seven-point surge to quell the Cavaliers’ momentum, though the visitors did pull to within six points on several occasions over the game’s final minutes but never could get any closer.
Rachic led all scorers with 27 points in a losing cause, while Isaiah Jones added another 16 to Calvert’s effort. The Cavaliers, who have lost nine of their last 10 games, are scheduled to play at Northern at 6 tonight.
Eight different Chargers contributed on the scoresheet, led by Wood’s 14, while Kabassu (13 points) and Darran Johnson (11) also reached double figures. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Lackey, though the wins slightly mask the fact that the team hasn’t put together consistently strong efforts.
“I think we still have some things execution-wise and mentally that we’re still working on,” Lackey head coach Sean Fox said. “I think the guys that finished the game played really hard. We’re just working on getting ready for the playoffs right now. I think we can play with those guys in our region, but we still have to keep getting better and executing if we’re going to beat them.”
Lackey will be tested as it closes out the regular season. The Chargers are scheduled to play at Thomas Stone at 6:30 tonight before closing the slate with games at St. Charles (Feb. 19) and at home against McDonough (Feb. 21).
“I think we’re just up and down right now,” Fox said. “I think if we can buy into what real toughness is, we have a chance to beat anybody, but if we don’t come out and play tough and with energy, it’s going to be tough any night we play.”
“I think we need to come together more and build some camaraderie as a team,” Wood added. “We have to execute on offense better and lock in on defense, because we haven’t been doing a great job on that end. I think our next three matchups will get us ready, some tough teams.”