Union High was the scene of basketball “what if’s” Monday, as teams who will never meet in the regular season went head-to-head for bragging rights and up close and personal experience. That’s what the Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Jam is all about, according to Spartan athletic director and varsity boys coach Tim Pope.
For the first time in the MLK Jam’s history, a girls game was added.
The undefeated 1A Lakewood girls, a possible championship contender, went up against 4A Laney High School. The Lady Buccaneers are at the top of their conference with only one loss so far this season.
Last season, Lakewood was one game away from the NCHSAA championship and are expected to go deep into the playoffs this year, too. Leopard head coach Lofton Kerr said he wanted his team to experience going up against a tough 4A team because this is the kind of action they will see in the playoffs.
“I wanted us to play here because this is the kind of team we’re going to see if we get in the playoffs,“ he explained.
There were no surprises during the game except for how thoroughly the Lady Leopards were shut down. The quick hands of the Lady Buccaneers created turnovers that turned into points and their height underneath the basket gave them the rebounds.
Kerr thought his girls put in a half-hearted performance.
“I think we could have done better today,” the Leopard coach stressed.
“We just didn’t compete hard enough. They were nonchalant. Laney probably should have beat us, but not by this much. We shot the ball terribly and Laney had good defense, but we’ve got to know how to handle that if we’re going to compete in the regionals. We’ve just got to be more focused when we play teams like this,” Kerr added.
Laney had more than doubled the score by the end of the first quarter, 14-6. At halftime, the Leopards were trailing by 15 points, 27-12.
Teisha Rich, Lakewood’s weapon down low, was wrapped up in Laney jerseys every time she touched the ball.
Point guard Brittney Boykin’s shooting was off, too, as she was credited with only 4 points for the entire game. Bianca Moore had 6 points; and Rich scored 8.
Top scorers for Laney were Brianna Baham and Amber Doniere, each with 12 points.
This marks the first time this season the Lady Leopards have been on the losing end of the scoreboard.