The Caroline High School basketball team extended its winning streak to five games with victories over Battlefield District foe Eastern View and non-district foe Essex in a pair of home games.
The Cavaliers narrowly defeated Essex 68-62 Friday and trounced the Cyclones the evening before, 80-43, to improve to 3-2 in district play and 7-4 overall.
The Cavaliers got strong performances from juniors Aason Pankey and Will Howard and senior point guard Deion Scott. Pankey led the team in scoring against Essex while Scott paced Caroline against Eastern view, and Howard was the No. 2 player in scoring in each contest.
In a game that saw several lead changes, the Essex Trojans held a 54-47 advantage heading into the final quarter, but the Cavaliers rallied to outscore them 21-8 to win. When the Cavaliers pulled ahead, the Trojans were forced to foul in the final minutes, but Pankey and Howard were solid at the free throw line to keep Caroline ahead. Pankey, who led the team with 18 points for the night, was 3-5 from the line in the game while Howard added 18 points and was a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe.
Caroline was ahead 40-33 at intermission, but the Cavaliers saw their lead melt as the Trojans out-scored them 21-7 in the third quarter behind the inside and outside shooting of Alonzo Tompkins (14 points for the game) and Alex Balderson
Scott added 11 points for Caroline. He kept the Trojans off guard, alternating between penetrating inside to shoot and passing off to DaQuan Pollard on the perimeter or Dwandre Parker inside.
“When we play Essex, it is always a dog fight,” said Caroline coach Antoine Johnson. “They are physical, intense, and in your face the whole game.”
“Essex tested the way we play,” added Johnson.
The Caroline junior varsity team also picked up a win, defeating Essex 56-32 to improve to 7-1 overall.
Caroline, leading Eastern View 30-28 at the break, exploded for 27 points in the third quarter while holding the Cyclones to only 6 points as the Cavaliers took command. The final quarter was almost as bad with Caroline scoring 23 points to Eastern View’s 11.
Scott led the Cavaliers with 16 points while Howard added 15 points. Aaron Lewis came off the bench to score 11 points for Caroline as every Cavalier player got in the scorebook.
Caroline scored 18 points from 3-point range with Scott and Lewis both sinking two treys.
The Cavaliers appeared confused and sloppy as the Cyclones scored from the outside and under the basket to take a 14-11 lead after one quarter. However, Caroline began to gel in the second period and out-scored the Cyclones 19-12 to pull ahead.
Eastern View was led by Brandon Settle’s 10 points.
The Cavaliers were a little rusty at the outset of the game, Johnson acknowledged. “Just coming off of the holiday break, there was some nervousness until they got back into it,” he said.
This week Caroline was scheduled to visit King George on Tuesday and host district powerhouse Culpeper on Friday.
“Essex was a test, which the guys passed because they played hard,” said Johnson. “After King George and Culpeper, we will know what we are really made of.”