A 19-point first-half scoring surge by Daquan Lilly helped boost the Knightdale boys basketball team in a 69-45 bashing against Southeast Raleigh on Tuesday.
The Knights (15-5, 9-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) unleashed a potent offensive scheme that staggered the Bulldogs’ overworked zone, as Knightdale found a way to score from anywhere on the floor.
In the first half, Knightdale’s easiest scoring opportunity came by simply feeding the rock to Lilly, who punished defenders in the paint.
“I was just feeling it,” Lilly said. “My teammates were looking for me and giving me the ball. We played great defense. That’s probably one of our best defensive games, that’s what really got everybody going.”
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The senior was almost perfect from down low in the first half, shooting 7-for-8 while playing physical and attacking the rim. In the midst of Lilly’s streak, the Bulldogs resorted to fouling him, which he welcomed by hitting five of his seven free throws.
“We always knew that we had that in him,” said Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd. “We were more conscious tonight to make sure we got him the ball in the positions where he could score the basketball.”
Though Lilly shined, finishing with 23 points, Knightdale had a sluggish start and trailed by seven after the first quarter. The Knights woke up and gained a 35-27 lead before the break by attacking the paint on offense and shutting down the Bulldogs in the zone.
“I think we’re taking our defense to another level,” Byrd said. “They played a dominant defensive game today. That’s what we talked about before we started the game, to come out and play hard on the defensive end.”
The Bulldogs (9-12, 5-6) sprung a comeback in the early minutes of the third quarter but Knightdale quickly answered by capitalizing on Southeast turnovers and attacking the boards with their size advantage. The Knights boasted a 48-36 lead heading into the final quarter.
Southeast struggled to find an answer to Knightdale’s post attack and the Knights continued to pull away in the remaining minutes. Scoring came easy from guards Akeem Tate and Dondre Griffin, who totaled 10 and nine points, respectively.
The Bulldogs scored only 18 total in the second half compared to Knightdale’s 34. Southeast Raleigh was led by guards Chris McElroy (12 points) and David Thompson (9).
“They’re just talented,” Southeast Raleigh coach John Baker III said of the Knights. “We’ve got to play 110 percent and do everything right when we play against a team that has that much talent, so you’ve got to bring it in order to compete with them.”