Louisa hoopsters still going strong

The Louisa Lions’ boys basketball team continues to fire on all cylinders. They picked up a trio of wins last week, including district wins over Western Albemarle and Orange County, to improve their season record to 15-4.

“I feel like we’re getting complete games from everyone now,” said Assistant Coach Roger Brooks. “Everyone knows what their job is, and now we can work on being efficient in those roles. That’s been the difference.”

The Lions traveled to Western Albemarle on Feb. 4, coming up with a 56-53 win in overtime. Both teams battled it out in the first half, with Western managing to build a 13-9 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter before a three-pointer from Xavien Hunter pulled the Lions to 13-12 by the end of the period.

Louisa carried that momentum into the second quarter, building up a 24-18 lead with just over three minutes left in the half. It proved to be more than enough time for the Warriors, who put up seven unanswered points to take a 25-24 lead going into halftime.

The Warriors added to their lead early in the third quarter, but after a change of strategy on defense, the Lions began fighting back. They stayed within striking distance, trailing 40-38 heading into the final quarter.

Xavien Hunter put up five points in the final period, while Isaac Haywood and Qwenton Spellman each added two as the Lions outscored the Warriors 9-7 to tie the score and send the game into overtime. Jarett Hunter put up seven of his total 10 points for the evening in the period as the Lions held off the Warriors to win 56-53.

“Our defensive rebounding and not allowing second chance points was the difference in the game, especially in the second half and overtime,” Brooks said.

Xavien Hunter led the Lions with 17 points, while Haywood scored a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Mahlik Munnerlyn added 10 points for Louisa.

The Lions returned to The Den on Feb. 5 for a non-district home game against the Patrick Henry Patriots, winning 61-48.

The Lions took control of things early with a 15-10 first quarter performance, which included eight points from Haywood. He added eight more in the second quarter as the Lions extended their lead to 35-23 by halftime.

Haywood scored another double-double, ending the night with a game-high 22 points and snagging 10 rebounds.

“Sometimes, in the past, we’d get him for a couple plays, then he’d get too relaxed,” Brooks said. “We need that motor all the time when he’s in there, and we’ve been getting it lately. That’s been the difference in some of these games. He’s being more efficient, but he’s also going as hard as he can on every single play.”

Xavien Hunter put up 11 points for the Lions, including his 1,000th career point on a layup in the second quarter.

“It feels good,” Hunter said of the milestone. “I’ve been working hard for this since my freshman year. I’ve wanted this for a long time.”

Jarett Hunter also hit double digits with 12 points.

The Lions closed out the week with a road win over the Orange County Hornets on Feb. 7. The Hornets came out strong with a 14-9 first quarter performance, but the Lions battled back with a 24-14 second quarter surge, to take a 33-28 lead at halftime.

The Lions hit the gas in the second half, jumping ahead 52-34 after the third quarter, and staying well ahead in the fourth for a 77-49 victory.

“We weren’t able to match their intensity in the first half and they were able to get easy points in the paint with Haywood in foul trouble,” Brooks said. “We were able to pick up the intensity and change up what we were doing defensively to provide more pressure. That allowed us to pull away in the second half. We did a much more efficient job staying in front of our man, closing out, contesting shots and securing rebounds in the second half.”

Xavien Hunter led the Lions with 18 points, followed by Jarett Hunter with 16. Price Straley added 12 points, all from three-point range.

The Lions closed out their regular season with a road game against Charlottesville and a home contest against Orange. Results from both games were unavailable at press time. They begin post-season play with the Jefferson District tournament on Feb. 14.

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