Patriots Reach Championship
Pinecrest’s Adam Cummings is well-known for his ability to score points, and he did just that Friday night with a team-high 23 in the semifinals of the Holiday in the Pines Tournament.
But it was Cummings’ who turned in one of several key defensive plays during an 8-0 Patriot run midway through the fourth quarter that helped them defeat Southern Lee 53-46 and advance to Saturday’s tournament title game.
Cummings, Sam Brower and Travion Wooten turned in a defensive effort to stop several fast breaks by Southern Lee. A hustling Cummings turned an easy layup into a missed basket and a turnover, Brower’s quick hands broke up a three-on-one Cavalier fast break and Wooten hustled after a missed Cavalier shot that resulted in a fast break basket for the Patriots.
The plays contributed to five straight scoreless possessions for the Cavaliers that allowed Pinecrest to reclaim the lead for good.
Cummings also hit a three-pointer in the spurt and Justin Ray capped the scoring run when he converted a fast-break layup after a steal by Wooten.
Cummings finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the Patriots (9-2 overall) past Southern Lee for the third time in as many games this season.
Saturday the Patriots attempted to win their second Holiday in the Pines Tournament in three years when they faced Mount Zion Christian Academy. The Durham-based school advanced to the title game with a 10-point win in its semifinal game.
For a recap of the Holiday in the Pines championship game, go to www.thepilot.com.
The Patriots third win over the Cavaliers this year was as easy as the first two — both double-digit final margins.
The Cavaliers (3-7) overcame a 15-point first-half deficit and took a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots used their defense to fuel the 8-0 rally late in the fourth quarter that allowed them to take a 46-41 lead they never relinquished.
After the game Patriot coach Andrew Lacey credited his team’s senior leadership and its defensive hustle, especially late in the game, for being the difference.
“We know them and they know us, there are no secrets,” Lacey said after the win. He credited his team’s ability to get “a score, a (defensive) stop, and a score,” in the fourth quarter as the difference.
The game looked as if it may be a runaway early.
Cummings hit three of his team’s four made three-point shots in the first quarter as the Patriots jumped out to a 17-4 lead by the end of the frame.
The lead grew to as many as 15 in the second quarter before the Cavaliers steadily climbed back into the game, cutting the margin to a point, 33-32, after three quarters.
The Patriots last captured the Holiday in the Pines tournament in 2010 when they defeated Southern Lee.
This year’s Patriot squad is seeking is second tournament title in as many tries. Earlier this year the team won the Berwick (Pa.) High School tournament.
To advance to Saturday’s title game the Patriots eked out a 53-51 win over South Lakes High School out of Reston, Va., in the tournament’s opening round.
The Patriots will get a two-week break from play before returning to action on Jan. 11 when they will begin Southeastern Conference play against the visiting Lumberton Pirates.
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