The Princess Anne boys saved their best for the final frame in a 64-55 win Tuesday against Beach rival Ocean Lakes following a sluggish, back-and-forth three quarters.
Princess Anne (3-0) took a 40-36 lead into the the fourth and set the tone of the game’s final minutes with a relentless pace on both ends of the floor.
The Cavaliers’ stingy man-to-man defense pinned the Dolphins into stagnant offensive possessions, leading to turnovers that resulted in eight fast-break points in the game’s final six minutes.
Three Cavaliers scored in double figures, led by senior guard Nyrel Goodson’s 15 points. Senior point guard Quevon Jackson added 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Junior center Michael Barfield-Owens, who came into the game averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds, had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Cavaliers coach Tim Sparks was delighted to see contributions from multiple players on a night when their play needed a spark.
“It’s going to take a whole team effort, not just a one man show,” Sparks said. “We’ve been saying that since the start.”
Princess Ann had three players lead the team in major stat categories: Goodson in points, Owens in rebounds and freshman Timothy Montgomery in assists (six).
The Cavaliers’ balance made the difference in a game that came down to crucial execution at the end.
Ocean Lakes’ top two offensive weapons, Vince Contreras (16 points) and Matt Campbell (17 points), started off hot in the first quarter to give the Dolphins a 17-16 lead, but they cooled after that.
The two were held to a combined one point in the second quarter and struggled to create open shots as the Cavaliers guards contested nearly every shot.
“We try to make more of an emphasis to not allow them to get any clean shot attempts,” Sparks said. “Because they both can score, and score points fast.”
Ocean Lakes (0-3) trailed by only one point at halftime and by four at the start of the fourth quarter but failed to generate any rhythm near the end.
When Campbell and Contreras struggle to dictate the action, the Dolphins’ offense can stagnate.
“That’s how it goes when they have those droughts offensively,” Dolphins coach Nic Mace said. “It slows us down.”
Defensively, the Dolphins gave up 24 points in the final quarter and couldn’t get a stop when they needed one. The Cavaliers had their way in transition and during half-court offensive sets.
“It’s a struggle right now putting together four quarters,” Mace said. “In order to compete and be a playoff team, we need to make those stops in late games.”
“There’s no championships in December,” he added about the team’s optimism. “I feel good about where we can be once we get more games under our belt. You learn more about the losses than the wins.”