LANHAM – From beginning to end, Laurel and DuVal played hard during the course of a high school boys' basketball match on Feb. 2.
Both teams laid it all out on the floor, but only squad came out with the victory. Behind their sharp shooting, rebounding, and defense, DuVal defeated Laurel 71-65 for a hard-fought home win.
The game started with both teams being aggressive as they used their respective fullcourt press defense flawlessly and applied pressure early.
The largest lead of the first quarter was just four points by Laurel. The match remained close throughout the quarter as the first period ended with the Spartans up 18-16.
“We did good on defense, but I felt we could have done better and tightened up on defense because it was all over the place,” DuVal senior KeSean Hobbs said, who finished the game with 10 points and controlled the pace of the game.
“The defense came out in a zone at first, and I just took what they gave me. I got my teammates involved, and then shots started to open up for me. I like to get my teammates involved first before I get myself involved.”
The second quarter began with some Laurel turnovers which converted into a 9-4 run for DuVal as they took a 25-20 lead early. DuVal could not miss in the second quarter as they hit shot after shot, despite most of the shots being contested.
The combination of turnovers, missed shots and bad perimeter defense was too much for Laurel to overcome. DuVal outscored Laurel 22-14 in the second frame and took a 38-32 lead going into halftime. Senior Lonce Bethea, who finished with a game-high of 23 points, was a key contributor to that second-quarter surge.
“I felt comfortable out there, it was a home game, and I had the crowd supporting, which helped me to score consistently,” Bethea said. “I am all for a win. Whatever I have to do to win, that’s what I’m going to do. So, if its scoring, rebounding or defense, I’m going to do what I have to do to help my team win. Tonight, was scoring.”
In the third quarter, it was another skirmish on the hardwood. Laurel played better defense and outrebounded DuVal in the second half. Laurel even came within one point of DuVal on three different occasions but never could obtain the lead.
DuVal continued their sharp shooting from a distance and maintained the lead throughout the period. It was a battle through three-quarters of play and the final period looked like it was going to come down to who wanted it more.
“I got to open spots, and my team passed me the ball, and I was able to make the open shots,” senior Kevin Moore said, who was a mid-range nightmare for Laurel and finished with 17 points, said. “The defense was lacking off a little bit, but I was just able to find the open spots on the floor. Overall we played well and helped each other out.”
At the start of the final quarter, Laurel pushed their lead to seven points, which was the most significant margin of the game between either team. DuVal came out strong, but DuVal was not going to go down without a fight.
Laurel cut the lead down to two points with just over five minutes left in the game. Although Laurel fought back, every time they scored, DuVal would come back with an answer.
With 50 seconds left in the game, Antonio Crockett hit a mid-range shot to put the Tigers team up by six.
However, Mike Joyner came back for Laurel with a poster dunk with 34 seconds left to cut the lead back down to four. Crockett came up clutch again with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left in the game that eventually sealed the deal. Once DuVal took the lead early in the second quarter, they trailed again in the game.
“The first quarter we were down, but the next three quarters we started to do a better job on our defensive assignments and rebound the basketball,” DuVal head coach Terrence Norris said. “Also, offensively we were able to move the basketball and get better shots instead of guys trying to get it off the bounce. We were able to move the basketball and get more high percentage shots.
The objective for us was to move the basketball and get open three-point shots. We told the guys if you move the basketball around that one defense and that zone shifts, we’ll penetrate and pull-up instead of trying to go all the way to the basket.”