BEAR — Well into the fourth quarter, the St. Elizabeth boys basketball team stayed with Caravel in both teams’ regular-season finale on Feb. 22. The Vikings took a 57-56 lead over the Buccaneers after Shaun Chandler slashed his way for two, then followed with a pair of free throws.
But the Bucs bounced back quickly and in a big way. John Clemmons put Caravel back on top at 58-57 with a driving bucket with 4:36 to go, igniting a 16-6 run that propelled the hosts to an 81-67 victory.
Miles White followed with a corner three that increased the lead to four, the biggest lead for either team since late in the third quarter. Amari Gordon then picked up a steal and took it back for a hoop. The Bucs continued to gain separation until the lead was 72-63, eliciting loud approval from the large crowd.
But the Vikings were not done. Leamond Pearce made a pair of free throws, and Chandler, as he had all night, ventured into the lane for two more points. But those would be the last for the Vikings.
Caravel got one more field goal when Owen Robinson hit White with a long inbounds pass for a layup, and the Buccaneers made seven free throws down the stretch. Clemmons was spectacular all night, and he was the go-to foul shooer for the Bucs. He was perfect on 16 attempts, including eight of eight in the fourth. Defensively, Caravel did not give the Vikings much room to operate, and when St. Elizabeth did get a look, their shots stopped falling.
The 14-point margin at the end does not reflect just how competitive the game was. The teams battled in an up-and-down race the entire night, with plenty of driving layups, blocked shots and free throws. It started with the opening jump.
The Buccaneers trailed in the first by three, but Julius Wright tied the score with a three-pointer with 3:10 to go. Robinson then got free on two consecutive possessions for easy layups, but Jermai Herring responded with an old-fashioned three-point play. Robinson’s third field goal of the first quarter came with time running out, and it put Caravel ahead, 21-20.
The roller coaster continued into the second. The game was knotted at 30 when Chandler and Herring went back-to-back on transition buckets after steals. Shortly thereafter, Jayden Lawrence made two free throws to give the Vikings a six-point lead, and the advantage was four at the half.
Clemmons finished with 29 to lead all scorers. Dom Wyatt had 21. White (12) and Robinson (11) also reached double figures. The Bucs closed the regular season at 16-4.
Four Vikings reached double figures, led by Chandler with 18. Herring had 17, Pearce had 13, and Kye Rawls added 12. St. Elizabeth finished 15-5.
Both teams will learn their state tournament seeding when the bracket is released on Friday.
All photos by Mike Lang.