Defending Cavalier Court
For the second time this season, Southern Lee held Cape Fear Valley rival Western Harnett below 30 points, doing so for a 39-23 win in the first round of the Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament Monday night.
The Cavaliers (14-9) needed three straight last-possession victories in the last week's worth of the regular season to hold on to their second seed for the CFVC and state tourneys. Thanks to holding the Eagles to 10 points in the opening half, then a burst of defense turning into easy offense during a big third-quarter run, there was no need for such heroics to get through the first round.
Freshman Noah Mellette got the Cavs out of a slow start with a three-pointer for a 7-4 Southern lead late in the first period, then two more for six straight points and a 17-8 Cavalier lead a bit into the second.
Other than Mellette from long range, the Cavs went inside to Justin McKinnon for six points in the opening half. The Cavs held Western Harnett scoreless for the first 7:30 of the second period and led 22-10 at the half.
The Eagles opened the second half with a 7-2 run before Southern Lee got back to scoring in threes.
Getting the ball at the high post and going strong to the hoop, Juwon Jackson scored a three-point play. Seconds later, a Cavalier steal turned into Christian Locust making a tough lay-up while getting hammered. Locust made the free throw for a 30-17 lead. The Cavalier run continued to 12-0 and a 36-17 score.
Mellette led the Cavaliers with 11 points. McKinnon had eight points and 10 rebounds. Juwon Jackson added six points and eight boards. Jalen Jackson and Andrew Carnegie combined for nine assists at the point for the Cavs.
Elliott Terry led Western Harnett with six points. Jonathan Buie had five points and 16 rebounds.
No. 2 Southern Lee moved its opening round game up a night from the rest of the league, so the Cavs will learn their semifinal opponent from Tuesday night's Union Pines at Overhills game.