Lee County guard and Herald Super 6er Aaron May drives past an Early County defender during Friday’s opening game of the U-Save-It Classic at Albany High. May scored a team-high 21 points to lead Lee County to a 73-63 victory. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Lee County coach Kirven Davis likes his basketball team. In fact, he likes the Trojans a lot.
He would just like to see them show a little more maturity.
The Trojans never trailed against Early County in the opening game of the U-Save-It Christmas Basketball Classic Friday afternoon at Albany High School. But they did lose double-figure leads several times.
Lee County scored a 73-63 victory, but Davis wasn’t happy his team didn’t push the proverbial gas pedal to the floor when they had a chance. Instead, the Trojans were more happy doing the speed limit.
“We just got through talking about maturity,” Davis said. “As you get older and more maturer, you get up for every team the same, the same way you get up for teams that have a lot of tradition. We’re getting there, it’s just a game-by-game thing.”
Lee built first-half leads as high as 11 only to watch as Early County would rally to trim the deficit to less than five.
The Bobcats were done in by paltry perimeter shooting to open the final period after they had cut Lee County’s lead to 53-49 on a lay-in by Trequez Wells with 23 seconds left in the third.
The Trojans (4-5) opened the final period on a 7-2 run, then Herald Super 6er Aaron May put the Bobcats away for good. The senior drove the lane, scored on a layup and drew a foul. He sank his free throw attempt to convert the three-point play and gave Lee a 67-53 advantage with 3:38 left.
“Our intensity was not up (Friday) like it should have been, and that’s my fault being a leader,” said May, who finished with a game-high 21 points for the Trojans.
“I just wanted to extend the lead. There was no time to be safe. I just wanted to push the lead up.”
Lee County opened the first quarter, shooting a sizzling 56 percent (9-of-16) from the floor and built an 18-8 lead on a nice pass inside from Amir Williams to Curtis Williams with 3:11 left.
Early County had defensive breakdowns when it went to a full-court trap. The Bobcats twice left Curtis Williams open in the paint, which led to easy baskets.
But Early pulled itself back into the game, holding Lee scoreless over the final 1:37, then scoreless again over the first 1:43 to start the second quarter. Early used a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 22-20 on a dunk from Trequez Wells.
However, the Trojans answered and extended their lead back to double figures on Jalin Wimberly’s free throw to make it 36-25 with 1:47 left in the second quarter. But Javarious Thornton keyed a 9-2 Bobcat run, scoring six of his 24 points, as Early trailed 38-34 at halftime.
Early opened the second half, cutting Lee County’s lead to just three on a layup from Malik Thornton at the 4:39 mark. Wells matched the four-point deficit again just before the end of the third with a lay-in underneath.
However, that was as close as Early County could get.
“We controlled the game, but we didn’t control it the way a mature team would,” Davis said.
Wimberly finished with 15, while Curtis Williams added 12 for the Trojans. Aside from Thornton, no other Early player finished in double figures. Tracy Blocker finished with eight for the Bobcats.
Lee plays again in the Classic at 2:30 p.m. today against Cedar Grove, while Early County matches up against Statesboro at 4 p.m. today.