LA lads race past Pungo

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MERRY HILL – Call it the pay-off.

Lawrence Academy boys basketball coach Jon Powell likes to point to the brutal schedule his players faced to close out 2010 as setting the table for their improvement the second half of the season.

Monday night it showed up.

In a furious first-half offensive display in which they scored 44 points, the Warriors went on to crush Pungo Christian Academy, 69-27, for their second win in Tarheel Independent Conference play.

Every Warrior scored as Nathaniel Holton, with 10 points in that first-half explosion, led a trio of Lawrence players in double figures with 15 points.

Darren Armstrong and Hunter Askew scored 11 apiece with 10 of Armstrong’s points also coming in the first half.

Colby Latham led Pungo (1-10, 1-3, TIC) with 13.

“We needed a good bounce-back after the Hobgood loss (63-52, Friday night),” said Powell. “We did some things fundamentally in the first half we really wanted to work on and in the second half we didn’t run as much.”

Lawrence used their fresh first-half legs to their advantage, literally sprinting out to an 11-0 lead.  The Warriors scored in every conceivable way during that run: jump shots, layups and everything, but alley-oop dunks.

Armstrong really exerted himself against the Raider front line, getting a pair of put-backs as part of Lawrence’s first nine points. Then Askew wowed the crowd with a nice reverse layup on the baseline.

That move made the score, 11-0 in less than two minutes and caused Pungo coach Jason Adams to call his first time-out.

Lawrence merely used it as a breather as Armstrong came out of the break and scored two more quick buckets to give him eight points in four minutes of play as the Raiders finally scored.

Lawrence continued to pour it on: Chase Stevens with a layup along the baseline and a pair of driving layups in the paint for Holton had the Lawrence fans delighted after the first quarter to the tune of, 21-4.

The hosts followed that up with another 20 points-plus effort in the second quarter. Powell began to shuffle his line-up and it paid dividends.

About the only downer for Lawrence was losing shooting guard Ryan Lilley to an injury early in the quarter. He did not return to the line-up.

Leading by 20, 26-6, Anthony Rascoe picked up the scoring load with two quick steals and layups.

With the score now, 30-6, it would be the Holton’s: Nathaniel and his brother, Nicholas, who would score 10 of Lawrence’s next 14, mostly with strong inside play against the softer and smaller Raider defense.

Only a pair of Jesse White free throws and an Askew jump shot broke the Holton brothers’ string and Lawrence went into the locker room at halftime ahead by 33 points, 44-11.

Lawrence came three points shy of another 20-point effort in the third quarter, mainly because Powell called off the horses in transition and worked more on the Warriors’ game inside and on the wings.

The Warriors’ first seven points of the second half all came on jump shots by Stevens, White and a three-pointer from Askew.

Askew then drove the baseline for a layup and on the next possession, White did the same thing.  Blake Stevens scored next to give all nine Lawrence players who dressed out points in the scorebook.

Leading 61-16 after three quarters Lawrence slowed the pace considerably in the final frame.  They closed things out at the charity stripe where they scored all but two of their final 10 points.

“They played to their strengths tonight,” said Pungo’s Adams after the game nodding toward the Lawrence locker room.  “They did the things they needed to do to win and we didn’t.”

“We needed the work,” added Powell, “it’s exam week so we can’t practice but I thought both teams made the best of the situation.”

Lawrence will face Columbia, at Columbia, on Friday night.  The first of five straight Warrior games on the road.