By Brian Paglia
Stockbridge posted reminders about its three-game losing streak to county rival Luella throughout its locker room in the days leading up to the Tigers game Friday night. A 99-89 loss to the Lions in the season-opener without head coach Duane Kelley was the latest setback and provided a compelling backdrop to the nonregion game.
Three quarters produced thrilling back-and-forth basketball, but Stockbridge pulled away in the fourth quarter only to hang on for an 80-77 victory at home. Luella closed a 15-point lead in the waning moments, hanging on to a flicker of hope, but to no avail.
"This was personal," Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley said. "First, that's a good team over there. But second of all, we felt that we were the better team. That night they were, but (Friday) we were."
"This win feels good," Stockbridge forward Dante Campbell said. "(Assistant) coach (Eldred) Taylor was hyping this up. I don't like how they came back at the end. Made it look close than I thought it really was."
Much of that 15-point lead in the fourth quarter was built upon Campbell's ability to arise in the absence of star guard Chris Davis' best performance. Davis had torched the Lions (6-2) for 51 points in the season-opening loss, so they focused much of their attention to him.
So Campbell scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter. He also grabbed 11 rebounds.
"They talk on the floor about taking Chris Davis out of the game to make a run. I hate that, because it shows that they think Chris is the only one on our team," Campbell said.
Davis scored 14 points, eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his career. Antonio Anthony and Antonio Thomas scored 13 points apiece.
Bryan Barber and Marcus Dallas led Luella with 16 points, respectively. Montavious Williams scored 11 and Jamal Bilal added 10 before fouling out with 2:21 left in the game.
Stockbridge (9-1) extended its winning streak to nine games and reasserted itself in its series with Luella.
Luella girls 64, Stockbridge 41
The Lady Lions used a stifling defensive effort to force 28 turnovers and break a two-game losing streak.
Karmen Gunn led Luella (4-4) with 13 points, Breonna Mosely added 12 and LaGhanae Davis scored 10 coming off the bench.
Deborah Hoe led Stockbridge (4-6) with 10 points.