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Warriors win second straight against RMA

MERRY HILL – It started out Princeton and ended, well, princely.

Lawrence Academy’s basketball team used their Princeton offense – lots of motion, passing and defense – to build a first half lead, then used late free throw shooting to down Rocky Mount Academy Wednesday night, 59-54.

“We didn’t panic toward the end of the game which we sometimes have a tendency to do” said second-year coach Jon Powell. “And, they’re listening to me which for a young team it’s hard to trust (the) coach sometimes.”

“And, we’re making our free throws,” he added, “which we’ve been concentrating on in practice, and it was huge tonight. We made ’em tonight to help win this game.”

Shabazz Atkins led the Warriors scoring with 19 points while Chase Stevens had 16. Chad Whitehead and Cade Larabee had a dozen each to round out the Lawrence scoring.

Lee Fulcher had 16 to lead RMA who fell to 5-8 and lost to the Warriors for the second straight time in three meetings this season.

Lawrence tied the game in the early going, 2-2, on an Atkins follow-up shot , but then the visiting Eagles went on an 8-3 run to take a 10-5 lead on a pair of three-pointers and a put-back layup, forcing Powell to call a quick timeout.

The lecture must’ve worked because that run was followed by Lawrence dropping a pair of treys of its own from Whitehead and Stevens then tied it at 13-all on Larabee’s baseline jump shot and took their first lead, 15-13, as the quarter ended when Stevens dropped in a bucket from just inside the three-point line.

An exchange of field goals and a three-pointer opening the second quarter moved Rocky Mount back within a point, 19-18, and Lucas Boyles’ free throw tied it for a third time at 19-19.

It was 21-21 when Atkins got free in the motion offense and dropped a three-pointer to give Lawrence a 24-21 lead they would never surrender.

Lawrence then outscored the Eagles with their own 8-2 run and closed out the half with a Whitehead bank shot that rattled in off the glass to give the Warriors a 32-23 halftime lead.

Perhaps two games in 24 hours caught up with the Warriors in the third quarter because there was very little offense– but plenty of great defense – in the third quarter.

The tight defense also produced fouls for the home team. Rocky Mount capitalized by making a pair of free throws as well as extending their own defense for a pair of fast break layups and the Eagles won the quarter, 8-7, to reduce Lawrence’s overall lead to 39-31.

A Stevens’ jump shot to open the fourth quarter gave Lawrence it’s largest lead of the night, 41-31; but Rocky Mount found their spark again and went on a 10-3 run to get within three at 44-41 with four and a half minutes to play.

Lawrence held tight and forced the Eagles to foul which just marched the Warriors to the free throw line where they made 10-of-12 free throws and led, 57-51, with 35 seconds to play.

Rocky Mount got a three to make it, 57-54 with the clock winding down. Forced to still foul, Larabee sank two more free throws to make the five-point margin of victory and send Lawrence to their eighth win against just five losses.

“Their objective was to attack the basket in the second half,” said Eagles’ coach Bob Iannucci,” and to the credit of Lawrence they got to the free throw line and they sank ’em.”

“I like to run a variety of different looks at the defense in order to keep them off balance,” said Powell. “The biggest thing is changing the speed in the half-court game.”

Lawrence hosted Hobgood Friday before Tar Heel Independent Conference road games next week against Albemarle and Northeast.