SANTEE — The Gators came into Tuesday’s match-up without Mike Williams and head coach Roy Brown.
They didn’t need them. With Khalil Halls, Torrence Wright and Chris Turner leading the way, Lake Marion turned the long-awaited showdown into a 76-44 runaway.
“Our players talk about it during practice,” Lake Marion assistant coach Harold Void said when asked about the Gators’ defense. “We try to keep our opponents under 50 and that was the goal and they work hard on it. It was kind of hard at the beginning ... but we came back, clamped down on them and came away with the win.”
Both teams failed to take care of the ball early on. However, the Gators (5-0) were able to make the most of the Saints miscues to take a 16-8 lead at the end of one.
“I’d hate to think it was jitters,” Calhoun coach Zam Fredrick said when asked about his team’s 11 first quarter turnovers. “My thing, more or less from watching the game, was that we were just careless with the ball. We don’t execute very well. We lose the ball out front way too often. That leads to easy buckets. Basically, that’s how we fell behind in the game.”
Calhoun County’s troubles continued in the second quarter as the Saints found themselves in foul trouble. The Gators took advantage of the double bonus making 7 of 12 free throws (12 of 19 in the first half) to take a 34-22 lead at the half.
“That was a plus because we practice our free throws so we can make them,” Void said. “That was a big plus. That’s something that we preach every day.”
Lake Marion returned to the floor, hoping to keep the pressure on Fredrick’s team. Thanks to their stingy defensive tactics, the Gators held the Saints to nine third quarter points. Meanwhile, Deriante Jenkins propelled the Gators’ offense, scoring seven of his nine points in the third, helping Lake Marion take a 57-31 lead with one quarter left.
“That did us in,” Fredrick said. That was the game. You know, I tell my guys that the two quarters that you want to play well in are the first quarter and, of course, the third quarter. We laid an egg. We came out in the third quarter and didn’t do absolutely anything. The first three or four possession, I think, were turnovers and a 14-point lead went to 20 really quick.”
For the Saints, being below the .500 mark at 1-3 is unfamiliar territory for a Fredrick-coached team. Now, they sit at 1-3 with back-to-back meetings at Swansea on Friday and at home against Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
In Fredrick’s mind, getting the Saints back on track comes down to one thing: “We’re going to have to start playing Saints basketball on a consistent basis. We’re not doing anything very well. When I say anything, I mean from making a layup in transition to shooting free throws.
“We’re struggling in all phases of the game. The effort is there. Maybe we’re trying a little bit too hard or we’re pressing a little bit too hard or whatever, but I think after we loosen up a little bit and the guys get a little bit more familiar with real battles, I think we’re going to be okay.”
In the girls’ game, the Lady Saints fought off a hungry Lady Gators squad in search of its second victory of the year behind a 19-point performance by Brittany Charley to come away with a 50-40 win.
“Brittany definitely stepped up,” Lady Saints head coach Marzettis O’Neal said. “She definitely stepped up tonight. She played the game the way she should. This is her second year and she’s one of the few starters from last year. She’s got to pick up that leadership role.”
Brianna Charley also provided a major contribution for Calhoun County (3-1) by adding 12 points. Meanwhile, Lake Marion was led by Quintella Wilson with 13 points.
LM (76) - Chris Turner 12, Torrence Wright 12, Khalil Halls 11, Jenkins 9, Hughes 8, Myers 8, Bryant 5, Brunson 4, Sellers 3, Lawton 2, Oliver 2.
CC (44) Corey Zeigler 11, Williams 7, Charley 7, Smith 7, Brown 4, Stephens 3, Johnson 3, Whitmore 2,
CC (50) - Brittany Charley 19, Brianna Charley 12, White 6, Brown 4, Pendergrast 4, Gaffney 2, Williams 2, Gifford 1.
LM (40) - Quintella Wilson 13 , Nekochia Moody 10, Sanders 8, Lee-Parson 7, Blanchard 2
For more on what’s wrong with Saints’ basketball, visit the preps blog at TheTandD.com/blogs