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Lions cruise over Bluestone

It wasn’t pretty, but the Halifax County Middle School boys basketball team prevailed nonetheless. The Lions maintained their hold on first place in the Southside Middle School Conference with a 43-27 win over Bluestone Middle School here Monday night at Halifax County Middle School.

Monday night’s win improved the Lions’ record to 6-3 overall and 5-0 in conference play and served as a tune-up of sorts for a big road game tonight against Russell Middle School.

A win over Russell Middle School will allow the Lions to retain sole possession of first place in the conference standings. After tonight’s game, the Lions have only two regular-season conference games remaining on the schedule, both against teams they have previously beaten this season.

“It’s good to get a conference win,” remarked Halifax County Middle School Head Coach W.J. Long.

“A win is a win, and we’ll take it.”

It was an uncharacteristically tough night for the Lions in Monday night’s game against Bluestone Middle School. The Lions hit only three of 14 attempts from the charity stripe, and found themselves in a much closer than expected tussle for the first three quarters.

Had it not been for Jarvis Owens’ hot hand, the Lions would likely have been in a much tougher bind. Owens led the Lions in scoring with 22 points, 12 of which came in the second half.

Owens scored eight of the 10 points the Lions scored in the first quarter, as the Lions emerged from the first six-minute period with a slim 10-8 lead.

Two field goals from Jacob Garrett in the first minute of the second quarter gave the Lions a 14-8 lead. But, the Lions scored only one more basket the remainder of the quarter and led 16-10 at halftime.

The Lions managed to open up an 11-point lead on Bluestone Middle School with just over two minutes left in the third quarter and settled for an eight-point 27-19 lead at the end of the period.

Bluestone trimmed its deficit to six points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter before a 6-0 Lions run that included two baskets from Kelonte Gutrich put the Lions up 35-23 with 2:46 left in the game.

A 9-2 run by the Lions in the final 1:54 of the game sealed the 16-point win.

“We were the more athletic, bigger, stronger and faster team, but we didn’t execute very well for the first three quarters of the ballgame,” Long pointed out.

“We just looked ragged. We missed a lot of open shots and layups and didn’t hit our free throws. We didn’t get back on defense like we wanted to. To their credit, Bluestone played pretty well.”

Seven Lions players scored in the game, with Kavon Fitzgerald, James Smith Jr., Garrett, Andrew Walker and Gutrich each scoring four points to follow Owens’ big 22-point effort. Will Miller chipped in one point.

Najawuan Davis led Bluestone Middle School in scoring with eight points. Antwan Tucker and Keith Patrick chipped in five points each.