Jumpstarted by a decisive start and balanced scoring attack, the Leesville Men’s basketball team defeated Enloe 74-58 on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The Pride (5-4, 9-10) jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the game’s opening four minutes and kept the pedal down as they surged to a 45-20 halftime advantage. The visiting Eagles (2-7, 2-14) came out with much more energy in the second half, but their surge was never enough to seriously threaten the lead.
Six players scored nine or more points for Leesville. Brandon Staves and Sanders Rohs, seniors, and Jonathan Mebane, freshman, each tallied 13 points to tie for the team lead. Grayson Kelley, junior, added 11 points in the paint while Alex Hunter, freshman, tacked on nine points along with a plethora of nice setups. Jethro Bajani, junior, scored 11 in an impressive performance off the bench.
“We came out tonight [and] we hit hard,” said Staves. “We started out a little sloppy…after that we tightened up our defense, we started executing on offense.”
“It was big. We did well. We played hard,” said Russ Frazier, head coach. “We didn’t have a good second half; we need to be better tomorrow.”
The night’s opening sequence couldn’t have gone worse for Enloe, who burned two timeouts, committed six fouls (including a technical on the coaching staff) and found themselves buried on the scoreboard just halfway into the first quarter.
Leesville responded from a slight pushback that cut the lead to 19-7 heading to the second quarter by putting on one of their most dominant offensive quarters of the season. Staves found himself with easy layups after a series of great passes, while Rohs turned three steals in a 60-second span into fast breaks the other way. The Pride led by a comfortable 23 by the time the Leesville Dance Ensemble populated the court for their halftime performance.
The second half began a bit sluggishly for the Pride, as a 10-point Enloe run cut the deficit to 48-30 with 5:20 left in the third quarter. However, Leesville continued their year-long improvement on free throws and converted a number of such chances to reclaim the momentum as time wound down.
The closing minutes of the rout offered Frazier the opportunity to send out some of the squad’s less-played members onto the court. Three of the loudest cheers of the game came in the final minute, when Malcolm Hitchcock, senior and football team captain, Blair Simpson, junior, and Michael Hopkins, senior, all got on the scoresheet.
Post-game emotions were clearly focused on the week ahead. The Pride, winners of six of their last seven, will travel downtown for a crucial battle with Broughton (6-3 in the conference) on Wednesday before visiting Wake Forest (4-5) in an immensely important week for the Cap-8 title race.
“It’s going to be a long week,” said Staves with a sigh. “We’re going to have to play big tomorrow and the rest of the week.”