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Lovejoy girls cruise to win in Morrow Thaksgiving Tournament

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

Some ice water on the gym floor was the only thing that was able to cool off Lovejoy Tuesday in the Wildcats opening game of the Morrow Thanksgiving Tournament.

With Lovejoy cruising to an 22-point early second quarter lead, the water cooler on Therrell's bench tilted onto the floor, which delayed the game 20 minutes as tournament personnel attended to the spill. When play resume, Therrell made a slight run, but the early lead was too much to overcome as the Wildcats cruised to a 50-23 win for their first victory of the season.

"When you come out firing on all cylinders like we did in the first quarter, you definitely like to keep it going," Lovejoy coach Eric Habelt said. "After the spill we played well. I'm proud of the girls for keeping it together."

The Wildcats were led by Navilla Paul, who finished with 12 points while Kendra Boehning added 11. Lovejoy jumped to a 21-3 first quarter lead, but was never able to duplicate that momentum after the game was halted for the water spill. The team led 33-11 at the intermission, but was only able to produce 17 second half points.

However, it defense only allowed the Panthers 12 second half points.

"We weren't looking to press or embarrass them, because I believe what goes around comes around," Habelt said. "We were able to work on some things that we had recently put in."

In its exhibition loss to Forest Park, the Wildcats (1-1) had 42 turnovers. Lovejoy loss its regular season opener against North Clayton after committing 20 turnovers.

"The biggest thing is we played good defense in the third quarter, and we didn't have any turnovers," Habelt said. "We were able to play a game with the lead. I think the girls played real smart."

In the boys' game involving a Southern Crescent team, Forest Park loss 66-62 to Therrell as the Panthers comeback attempt fell short. Therrell was led by Lem Fuller and Maliecki Priester, who had 19 and 18 points respectively.

Playing without two starters, Forest Park got down early against Therrell, but battled its way back late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers (0-2) cut a double-digit lead to three points with 1.9 second remaining on a 3-pointer by Nicholas Crawford to cut the lead to 65-62. On the ensuing possession, Therrrell's Nathaniel Brittion made one of two free throw attempts to increase its lead to 66-62 with 0.7 second left.

Forest Park coach Antonio Wade suspended two starters for the game for missing Monday's practice. Wade said the Therrell game was much like the team's season-opening loss to Hiram. The Panthers fell behind early before making a comeback attempt.

"We have been starting the game too slow by digging a hole for ourselves," said Wade, who is in his first season as the boys' coach. "We spent the last two games fighting our way back into the game. We missed a lot of easy shots."

The Pan`thers only return two starters back from last season's team that reached the Sweet Sixteen. Wade has no seniors, so he is hoping to build for the future.

"We should be a decent team," he said. "We just have to play 32 minutes of basketball."