Long Reach turns back Douglass-PG, advances to semifinals, 73-65

Lightning's Lightfoot scores 12 in final period

Class 3A East boys basketball

High Schools

March 02, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Long Reach's Eugene Lightfoot was hungry for playing time. Starved.

So when he finally got his chance last night in the Class 3A East region quarterfinals against Douglass of Prince George's County, he was determined to stay on the court as long as he could. It turned out to be almost three quarters.

His presence paid off with a 73-65 victory for the host Lightning, which had lost to Douglass in the playoffs four years ago and had never beaten a Prince George's team in the playoffs.

"My mind was racing, saying: I have to rebound; I have to box out; I have to play defense; and I can't mess up or I'll be back on the bench. And I was tired of sitting down," said Lightfoot, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior who bench presses 300 pounds and is better known for his football prowess.

Long Reach will play the winner of today's Centennial-Wilde Lake quarterfinal in a semifinal game on Thursday.

Lightfoot took command in the fourth quarter by scoring 12 points, eight in a row after Douglass had rallied to within 63-59 on the sensational three-point shooting of sophomore point guard Mike Lewis.

It was Lewis' fourth three-pointer of the fourth quarter that pulled the Eagles within four. He had six three-pointers for the game and 24 points -- 16 of them in the fourth quarter.

"Lightfoot was huge for us," said Long Reach senior point guard Mike Smelkinson, who had 22 points, five assists and three rebounds and was 11-for-13 at the foul line.

"He's been practicing the hardest of all of us and wanted floor time and proved he should be out there," said Smelkinson. "Our big guys got more aggressive on the boards in the second half, and that was the key."

No. 12 Long Reach (20-4) out-rebounded Douglass (8-14) in the second half 22-9 after getting out-rebounded 14-7 in the first half.

Lightfoot had 10 rebounds in the second half and 12 for the game, and finished with 16 points, two blocks and two assists.

"It was my best game ever," said Lightfoot.

He had help from 6-5 Brian Chesnut, who scored 11 points; 6-5 Zack Hines, who scored 10; and Trent Covington, who had seven points.

"It was really a team effort," said Lightning coach Al Moraz.

Long Reach's biggest lead was 13 points late in the third quarter, until Lewis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer making it 53-43. Lightfoot opened the fourth quarter by converting a three-point play.

"We knew No. 10 [Lewis] could catch fire because we had scouted them," said Smelkinson. "Earlier in the game, we switched defenses a lot to throw them off and he wasn't taking many shots."

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