A few quick hits about Southern Lee’s win over Union Pines on Friday night to capture their second straight Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament title.
I’m going to touch on this some more in Sunday’s column, but reserves Raymond Brown and Donte Alston were tremendous in picking up the Cavaliers’ offense in the tournament final.
With bigs Aaron and Mike Mellette in early foul trouble — Aaron Mellette was relegated to the bench with 4:49 to go in the first quarter after picking up his second foul — Alston and Brown were huge.
Brown, an undersized forward, had four steals and eight points in the first quarter to help Southern Lee close the period with five straight points, and Alston killed the Vikings with three 3-pointers and 13 second-quarter points as the game was virtually decided during the Cavaliers’ 19-3 run.
Brown and Alston combined for 31 points — 23 of them by the half — and with Julian Martin’s five points, helped the Southern Lee bench hold a 36-9 edge on Union Pines. Those were some big minutes.
Southern Lee is good in the halfcourt set, especially with the Mellettes on the floor. The Cavaliers’ motion offense isn’t terribly complex, but with guys who have been playing three years of varsity basketball together, they know exactly where somebody is supposed to be well before they get there. Southern Lee is doing a nice job of always — and I mean always — making the extra pass when it gets dribble penetration.
And heck, if it isn’t there inside, they can always kick it out to Akeem Richmond, who’s now made 15 3s in his last three games.
More big numbers for the Cavaliers’ tenacious press defense. Southern Lee forced 28 turnovers while committing only 12.
Here’s the scary thing about the Cavaliers — they didn’t even play all that well on Friday night. They were good, to be sure, but they weren’t up to their normal high standard.
Still, it was more than enough. Union Pines never got closer than 16 points in the second half, and really never had a chance to make it a game or force Southern Lee to even think about sweating things.
The Cavaliers still rolled up 93 points a night after scoring 116, still led by as many as 26 points late in the fourth quarter and still had four players score in double figures.
If this was an “off night”, they’ve got a chance to go far.
One worry? Southern Lee, which will host Western Guilford in the state tournament’s first round on Tuesday night at 7, may face defending state champion Dudley in the third round — on the road.
Could one of the East Region’s top two or three teams really be gone by next Tuesday?