Lawrence looks to repeat

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AHOSKIE – Picking up where they left off.

Despite a mostly new lineup from the one that won the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament a season ago, Lawrence Academy’s boys basketball team showed off their modified Princeton offense and combined it with some strong rebounding to win their season opener in the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament’s opening varsity round, 63-43.

Trace Larabee and Travis Whitehead tied for top scoring honors for the Warriors with 17 points each while Cade Larabee had 10 and Chase Stevens added eight.

James Pope was top-scorer for the Eagles with 16.

“We’ve got both an experienced group and an inexperienced group,” chuckled Warriors coach Jon Powell when reminded that he didn’t yell as much from the bench as he has in past seasons.

“You’ve got to bring the younger guys along slowly,” he added. “But they’re working hard and since they’re working positively I can’t get on them too much.”

There was nothing slow about the way Lawrence started this one. Blitzing out to a 15-1 lead thanks to eight points from Trace Larabee including a pair of long three-pointers from well beyond the arc.

Despite another Larabee trey that gave the young marksman a whopping 13 points in the first quarter alone; Northeast fought back thanks to their own three-point sharpshooter in Pope, who hit three triples in a row and the first quarter closed with Lawrence ahead, 20-12.

Will Glover opened the second quarter with a three-pointer for Northeast, but that was their only trey the rest of the half. Lawrence went into their motion offense to open up the Eagles defense and it produced several baseline layups and jump shots.

With Stevens hitting in the low post and Whitehead now heating up on the perimeter, Lawrence stretched a five-point lead, 25-20, by scoring 10 in a row to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room at half-time.

Lawrence stepped up their defense in the third quarter allowing them to cash in with fast-break layups off steals. The teams began then to trade buckets, but Northeast couldn’t catch up that way. They cut it to 11, 44-33, before Lawrence closed with a 6-0 run to make it 50-33 heading into the final quarter.

Whitehead got six straight to open the fourth, interrupted only by a Pope three-pointer.  Powell then began to rotate in some of his younger players and baskets by Darren Armstrong and Blake Stevens helped push the Lawrence lead to 20. The lead got as high as 21 before Northeast closed it out with a free throw.

“We’ve only had four practices because of football,” said Boone. “Some of the kids, naturally, are disappointed, but I’m pleased because we packed a lot into a short period of time.

“Turnovers killed us,” he added shaking his head.  “We’ll improve over the next few weeks, but we’ve got to learn how to take care of the basketball.”

Lawrence heads into the championship game against Bethel Friday night, while Northeast and Ridgecroft square off earlier in the consolation match-up.

(By Gene Motley, Sports Writer)