Cavaliers come back for league win
Southern Lee rallied from a 43-27 halftime deficit, shutting down what was a red-hot Viking shooting attack, to get an 80-68 Cape Fear Valley Conference win at Union Pines Friday night.
Turning up the defensive intensity, which led to plenty of Cavalier fast breaks and lots of Cavs getting into the scoring action, Southern Lee (4-8, 2-1) erased the big Viking lead within the first seven minutes of the second half.
Reserve big man Justin McKinnon poured in 12 of his 16 points in the second half and was one of seven Cavaliers to score six points or more in the contest.
Matthew Maness led the Vikings (4-11, 0-4) with 22 points, including six three-pointers.
The Cavs got out on the front foot, jumping out to a 7-1 lead and keeping the lead through the first quarter. Freshman wing Noah Mellette led Southern Lee with six points in the opening period.
The Vikings rolled off the first 12 points of the second quarter taking a 25-20 lead. Maness and Tyler Packer hit three-pointers and sophomore Malik Crawford came off the bench to provide quickness on both ends of the court.
Another big Viking run closed the half. Maness hit three three-pointers in the quarter and Union Pines made 6-of-9 triples in all in the half. Crawford added 10 points, with two triples, in the half.
Southern Lee cranked up its trapping defense in the second half but as much as any chalk talk, the Cavs turned up their energy after being behind by 16 at the half. Southern Lee forced 14 Viking turnovers in the second half after getting five in the opening half. Along with the turnovers leading to some easy Cavalier buckets, most of the Viking three-point looks dried up.
Charles Wicker hit a pull-up jumper in the lane for a three-point play to bring the Cavs within 46-44 with 3:13 left in the third quarter. A pair of free throws by Christian Locust put Southern Lee ahead 50-49 with 1:12 left in the third. The Cavs took a 54-51 lead to the fourth quarter.
A three-point play by Crawford momentarily got the Vikings back within a possession, down 63-60, with 4:42 left in the game.
Southern Lee's defense was relentless though and the Cavalier offense fed off their defensive plays.
McKinnon scored inside to answer the Viking three-point play, then Juwon Jackson drove to the bucket and scored for a 67-62 Cavalier lead. Wicker made two free throws, followed by McKinnon making two for a 71-62 Southern Lee lead with less than two minutes remaining.
McKinnon finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Juwon Jackson had 16 points and six boards. Locust totaled 11 points, seven assists, five boards and four steals.
Along with Maness scoring 22, Crawford added 16 for the Vikings. Packer and Dionte Williams added seven points each.
Next up, Southern Lee will host Douglas Byrd on Friday night. Union Pines will travel to Cardinal Gibbons Tuesday night before playing at Western Harnett on Friday.