A near-capacity crowd of local high-school basketball fans were on hand at the spacious South Lakes High gymnasium last Friday night to take in a girls-boys doubleheader between local rivals Herndon and host school South Lakes.
It was South Lakes’ night as both the Seahawk teams won the early season contests. The South Lakes girls, in the evening’s first contest, overcame an early 21-point deficit to defeat Herndon, 47-44. Then, in the nightcap boys game, South Lakes senior point guard Travis Williams kept the Hornets at bay with terrific outside shooting to lead the Seahawks to a 73-68 victory.
Williams, South Lakes’ outstanding 5-foot-10-inch point guard, nailed five 3-pointers on way to a game-high 21 points.
South Lakes trailed 39-36 early in the third quarter before Williams scored eight points during a 12-3 South Lakes tear that put the Seahawks ahead to stay at 48-42. Williams scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers during the decisive third quarter. Teammate Brandon Price (15 points), a senior guard, added 10 points in the same quarter.
South Lakes (2-1), which outscored the Hornets 23-11 in the quarter, led 59-48 going into the fourth. Herndon (3-2) did cut the Seahawks’ lead to 66-62 on a three-point shot by sophomore guard Austin Hamilton (16 points) from the left corner with two minutes, 35 seconds left in the fourth; but South Lakes’ Ramin Shaheedian answered with a pair of free throws moments later and Herndon never got within striking distance again.
"They came out hard and we came out hard," Williams said of the game. "We just kept our intensity high. We’ve got a lot of team chemistry and the guys trust each other."
Williams, who was red-hot shooting the ball, loved the electric atmosphere throughout the game.
"It was a rival game with the big crowd and my shots were falling," he said. "We talked about this game all week."
South Lakes coach Darryl Branch was proud of his team’s showing in its first home game of the winter.
"It was big to have a strong showing and to win," Branch said. "It was good for the community. It was pretty loud and good to see so many South Lakes students tonight."
He marveled at Williams’ play.
"He’s tough," Branch said. "Last year, I thought he was the little engine that could. He’s going to have a very good senior year. He’s a little guy, but he can play. He’s one of the better guards in the region. Last year he didn’t get as much attention because we had seniors like [since-graduated team leaders] Curtis Keys and Thomas Mayo."
Herndon senior Darian lson led the Hornets with 18 points, including three treys.
<b>IN THE GIRLS GAME</b> earlier in the evening, Herndon jumped out to what appeared to be an insurmountable 22-1 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Herndon junior guard Phyllis Martin (15 points) scored 11 points during the early game stretch.
South Lakes, which trailed 16-0 after one quarter, did not score its first field goal of the game until senior Olivia Neuman converted a basket off a drive with 5:29 remaining in the second quarter to get the Seahawks within 22-5.
From then on, South Lakes (5-0) seemed to find a comfort level and began playing better. By halftime, the Seahawks still trailed 28-11, but were playing with more confidence.
South Lakes’ Kacey Liscomb scored 10 points in the third quarter to help South Lakes get within 37-30 going into the fourth. The Seahawks’ charge continued and they finally tied the game, 42-42, on a three-point shot off the left wing from senior guard Kelcyn Manurs (13 points) with 2:08 remaining. Following a timeout, Herndon regained the lead on a layup by Jasmine Johnson (12 points), but Manurs answered with another trey to give South Lakes its first lead of the night at 45-44 with 58 seconds left. The game’s only points thereafter came on free throws by Manurs, who scored 10 fourth-quarter points.
"Coach yelled at us at halftime, we were doing so horrible," Manurs said.
Of the excitement of the second half, Manurs said, "I was shaking, I had the chills. It was wonderful."
South Lakes coach Christy Winters Scott expressed surprise that her team, with six seniors, started so poorly.
"I wanted them to work through it and that’s what we did," said the coach.
At halftime, Winters Scott told her team they were not playing Seahawks’ basketball and expressed disappointment that they were playing so poorly in front of a lot of area youth players who were in attendance.
But Winters Scott was thrilled with her team’s second-half play.
"To get this win is sweet for our six seniors," she said.
Herndon coach Reggie Barnes said his team played with patience and defended well in the first half. But the tide turned dramatically thereafter.
"The bottom line is we’re young and have got to learn how to close out games," Barnes said. "You can’t take anything away from South Lakes. We didn’t match their intensity in the second half."