Southern Lee’s varsity boys basketball team, the No. 1 seed in the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference Tournament, got off to a fast start and won its semifinal matchup with visiting Triton, 66-43, on Tuesday night.
The hosts led 20-3 after eight minutes of play and maintained an advantage of at least 15 points the rest of the way.
Triton, the No. 4 seed, topped visiting fifth-seeded Western Harnett 68-52 in the opening round on Monday night while the Cavaliers had a bye.
“It’s a disappointing effort after the way we played last night,” said Hawks coach T.J. Morrison. “I thought we played Triton basketball last night. Tonight just wasn’t our night. We didn’t follow up with another night. We didn’t defend well, couldn’t score the ball. We just didn’t look like ourselves like we did last night.”
The Hawks dealt Southern Lee its only league loss, 68-57, at home on Jan. 26. The Cavaliers evened the regular-season series with a 58-38 win at Southern Lee on Jan. 29.
Triton (14-12) played the Cavaliers (21-3) on a relatively-even basis after the early onslaught in the third meeting. Southern Lee outscored the Hawks 13-12 in the second quarter, 17-14 in the third and 16-14 in the fourth.
“We knew they’d pressure the ball,” Morrison said. “Told our guys to run the offense and be efficient and try to get some back door cuts, but we just wouldn’t be disciplined and wouldn’t go hard at it. We just couldn’t get anything going. They were the better team defensively tonight.”
Left-handed Phil Martin had 20 points,, including five 3-pointers to pace the Cavaliers.
Shiquan Cox scored 14 points for the Hawks and Maurice Williams tallied 12. Williams was five for nine on field goal attempts. Chrishaun Henry had seven points on seven for 10 free throw shooting.
Christion Green and Travion Sanders had four points each for Triton. Kalil Hodges added two points.
Henry had seven rebounds and Cox collected six. Hodges had three assists.
Morrison planned a light day-after practice.
“We’ll get back after it Thursday and Friday,” he said. “We’ll see where the chips fall on Saturday (when state playoff brackets are released) and see where we go on Tuesday. We’ll practice Monday and try to get ready for it. I hope we can be coachable and play hard.”
The Cavaliers will meet Lee County in the conference tournament championship game at Campbell on Thursday night at 8:30 after the second-seeded Yellow Jackets defeated Harnett Central, 66-49, in the opening game at Southern Lee on Tuesday night.