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Caroline High School boys basketball coach Antoine Johnson must have put in a holiday request for a cure for the doldrums that the Cavaliers found themselves in just before Christmas. Johnson was able to see a glimmer of that cure Jan. 10 as they defeated James Monroe 63-62 on a last gasp free throw by Aason Pankey.
Friday was the first time the Cavaliers had played since Dec. 20 and when the game first started it showed as play was flat footed with a general malaise throughout the first period as they fell behind the Yellow Jackets 14-17.
During the break between periods, Johnson fired up the team, later stating, “I told them to play with the intensity we practiced with over the holidays. We had hard practices with everyone playing strong and talking with one another.”
The team took his words to heart, playing in the second quarter like they had yet to play all season. Rebounds, steals, drives to the basket were all executed with a fearlessness that left JM looking and wondering as Caroline outplayed them at both ends of the court, going in to the locker room at halftime with the score: Caroline 38, James Monroe 25.
Half way through the fourth quarter, JM had scratched their way to a 52-52 tie and for the most part, the game was decided at the free throw line. Caroline edged out JM as the Yellow Jackets left 8 points at the charity stripe with cold shooting. The Cavalier outside game was strong as they sank seven 3-pointers versus JM’s two. The Caroline team was fortunate to have an edge on free throws and 3-pointers as JM ruled the center during most of the game with the exception of the second quarter.
Leading scorer for the Cavaliers was Pankey with 18 points, including one trey and 5-8 from the free throw line. Following Pankey was Will Howard scoring 17 points, including three treys and 2-5 at the line. Although he scored only seven points, Mark Loving appeared to have found his Cavalier niche playing stronger and with more confidence than he has played to date. The Cavalier scoring at the end of the night was 21 14-29 63 with 7 treys.
JM’s high scorer was Dre’Jon Boley with 14 points and no trips to the foul line. Next was James McFadden who scored 10 points with 2-3 at the free throw line. James Monroe ended the night 27 6-14 62 and 2 treys.
JM 17 8 16 21 — 62
CAROLINE 14 24 10 15 — 63
The JV Cavaliers continued their strong play this season in their game against the JV Yellow Jackets, defeating them 48-47 in a game that looked like a precursor to the varsity game.
Caroline was scheduled to travel to Chancellor on Tuesday and then host North Stafford on Friday of this week. Next week, the Cavaliers travel to Colonial Beach on Tuesday and host Northumberland on Wednesday. Saturday is a makeup game with Courtland at 5 p.m. in Milford.