Jackets rally to beat county rival
Lee County rallied from a 45-40 deficit with just over five minutes to play to knock off rival Southern Lee, 54-51, Saturday night in the first meeting of the season for the Jackets (4-2) and the Cavaliers (2-5).
A frantic series of Southern Lee turnovers leading to Jacket fast-break baskets proved the final momentum swing in a game each side took turns with big runs in.
Jason Payne’s steal and three-point play, finishing a fast-break lay-up while being fouled, sparked the Lee County rally.
Hunter Jackson’s steal and outlet pass for Trevon Watson’s lay-up made it 46-45 Jackets with 4:32 left. Jackson turned a deflected rebound into a quick outlet, this one to Dante Graham racing ahead for a lay-up for the next hoop. The transition buckets slowed from there but the Jackets hung on to the lead the rest of the way.
Watson, off the bench, led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points, 12 of which he got in the opening half to keep Lee County close as Southern Lee led most of the half.
Freshman wing Noah Mellette got the Cavaliers off to the strong start, scoring 12 points in the first half.
After Southern Lee led 15-12 after the first quarter, the Cavs kept going to a 28-18 lead. A couple Mellette three-pointers spurred the big lead and Southern Lee’s defense had the answer for every Jacket except Watson.
Watson scored 10 of Lee’s 15 points in the second period as Lee got back within a 28-27 Cavalier lead at halftime.
Lee County started the second half on a 10-4 run to take the lead. Southern Lee closed the third quarter with Christian Locust’s three-point play, followed by Charles Wicker’s offensive board and hoop in the lane to get a 41-40 lead going to the fourth. The Cavaliers got the first four points of the last period.
Mellette led the Cavaliers with 16 points and five rebounds. Juwon Jackson scored 11 points but fouled out with about three minutes to play. Locust scored nine points, all in the second half.
Dewaun McEachin had 11 points and three blocks while Payne had 11 points and six rebounds for the Jackets. Graham, after a scoreless first half, finished with eight points and five assists.
Lee County plays at Pinecrest Monday night and will host Cary Tuesday night. Southern Lee will host Westover Tuesday night.