Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014
LEXINGTON — After getting pummeled 79-58 by North Davidson in nonconference action Wednesday night, the Lexington boys’ basketball team returned to its comfort zone in the Central Carolina Conference and immediately became … uncomfortable.
The Yellow Jackets built a commanding 46-23 lead early in the third period against Salisbury only to see it whittled down to a harrowing six points, 67-61, before Lexington ultimately held on for a 76-65 victory Friday night.
“Salisbury came and started pressing us a little bit in the fourth period,” noted Lexington coach Jon Weavil. “We weren’t making the crisp passes, Salisbury was attacking the basket, we fouled a little bit and that kept stopping the clock and Salisbury was able to cut into the lead right there.”
Salisbury’s big comeback was capped by a layup from D.J. Alexander as the Hornets trailed 67-61 with 2:40 left to play.
But just when the Jackets needed a stop the most, they got it. Lexington hunkered down on defense, allowing the Hornets just two more field goals the rest of the way.
Lexington, meanwhile, got two key rebounds and putbacks from Shakeem Peterson on consecutive possessions as well as a driving layup from Devin Cross to regain its momentum down the stretch.
“I was proud of my guys,” said Weavil. “They cut it down to six but we were able to come back out and extend it out and keep it right there at a double-digit margin.”
Salisbury coach Jason Causby saw the Hornets’ comeback attempt as something bittersweet.
“This is one of those things where it’s a learning experience for us,” said Causby, whose team is now 1-1 in the CCC, 7-7 overall. “I’d much rather win and learn at the same time, but if we’re going to have our rear ends handed to us, I like the fact that we fought back.
“There’s only so much time on the clock and we exerted a lot of energy to make up, what, 17 points to get there. We just kind of hit that wall there with the deficit at six points.”
Through the first 20 minutes of the game Lexington looked unbeatable. With Peterson controlling the paint and Cross slicing in from the backcourt, the Jackets were at the top of their game.
But Salisbury began chipping away and Lexington helped the Hornets with nine fourth-period turnovers before Lexington took command of the game in the final two minutes.
Peterson scored 21 points for the Jackets, now 1-1 in the league, 7-5 overall, while Cross ended up with 15 points and Nolan Benson added 13.
DeShawn Troutman scored 19 for the Hornets while Wes Fazia added 11.
Even with forward Briana Nichols on the bench with a foot injury, Lexington still outmanned Salisbury on the way to an overwhelming 69-21 victory Friday night.
The Jackets took an 18-8 lead in the opening period, and then held the Hornets to just one point in the second period while taking a 37-9 lead at the half.
The issue was never in doubt.
“We played pretty decent,” said Lexington coach Lamont Johnson, whose team is now 1-1 in the CCC, 9-3 overall. “But I think we can still do better, though.
“For one thing, our press has got to get better if we want to get to where we want to be. And we can’t turn the ball over. We still had silly turnovers that we can’t have. Plus, we missed what, eight, nine, 10 layups? Unacceptable. We’ll get that corrected pretty soon.”
Lexington, with only nine players on the roster, simply maintained control of the game through the second half as Johnson tried to cycle everybody into the game.
Alexis Fowler continued to dominate inside with 26 points, while Karrigan Ellison had 15 points and Emerson Hayes and Callie Herman each pumped in 11 points for the Jackets.