While the game was intense from the very beginning, Lakewood managed to pull out a win against North Duplin on Wednesday, 69-58.
Scoring the first shot, the Rebels brought their score to three before a quick basket from Lakewood brought the score to 3-2 with the Leopards a point behind. The aggression of the game took a turn when the Rebels’ Armone Anders was injured, blood coming from his mouth. After being checked on and brought to the locker room with a towel to his mouth, the custodian arrived for a quick clean up before the game could continue.
Greeted with cheers from the Lakewood audience and giving a playful bow, the custodian got to work with chants of “MVP” from the fans.
Both teams fought for the lead, gaining and losing it in rapid succession before the buzzer sounded, ending the first quarter at 16-14 with the Leopards behind.
Two minutes into the second, the score stood tied at 16-16. While the Rebels eventually secured a lead of eight points at 28-20, Lakewood fought back with their final basket. Scored as the buzzer sounded shrinking the gap to 28-25.
Initially, going the Rebels way they grew their lead back up to five, 30-25. The Leopards soon countered, shrinking the gap again to a mere point before finally taking the lead 35-33.
The Leopards soon grew their own lead, but the Rebels closed it with a score of 38-35. Lakewood keep it together and continued to hold their spot in front, pushing it to 42-35 going into the final eight minutes.
As a fierce final quarter began, the Leopards ultimately held off the Rebels and widened the gap a bit, ending the game with the 69-58 advantage.
“Our defense got a lot better,” said Lakewood coach Todd Wheeler. “We improved our inside rebounding as well, that went a long way tonight.”
With the season nearing its end, Lakewood faces Neuse Charter on Friday as their record improves to 2-14 overall and 2-6 in conference.
Reach Chris Froat at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.