Leesville Basketball Dusts Orange County in Opener

Leesville shakes hands with Orange after winning the game 76-65. Key plays by Jalen Benjamin and DJ Horne helped keep the team competitive into the final quarter.(Photo Courtesy of Ray Youman)Leesville shakes hands with Orange after winning the game 76-65. Key plays by Jalen Benjamin and DJ Horne helped keep the team competitive into the final quarter.(Photo Courtesy of Ray Youman)

It was Tuesday night before Leesville Varsity Basketball’s opener in Millbrook against Orange High School. The squad was looking to start their season off with some momentum. They wanted their first game to be a strong win, a catalyst for what was to come during the rest of the season.

Pressured with a strong opposition looking to mirror that hope, the boys were tasked with putting up strong scoring numbers and great defensive plays to ward off Orange. They did exactly that.

The game opened in a dead heat. Solid deep shots from Jalen Benjamin, a junior, and free throws from Jonathan Mebane, senior, helped keep Leesville on top for the entirety of the first quarter, holding on to a 17-15 lead. The second quarter saw the hot handed DJ Horne, a senior, come alive with multiple free throws and threes, keeping Leesville on top 31-28 by the half. In the third, Horne continued his domination with another three, a steal, and some jump shots while Benjamin’s and RJ Wilson’s (senior) putbacks helped maintain their lead. The fourth quarter started off hot with another three by Alex Hunter, a senior, but consecutive shots by Orange gave them the lead, 54-53. Down for the first time since the first quarter, coach Frazier called a timeout.

Alex Hunter recalled the moment, “Coach drew up a play that kind of got us going, and from then on we just…”

“Smoked them?” I added.

“Yeah, haha, we did,” said Hunter.

From then on, the Pride never looked back. Benjamin continued his dominance with another three and quality layups, while Hunter’s free throws further helped to open the game up, ending with a final score of 76-65.

“I think we performed pretty well as a collective group,” said Hunter. “We have a bunch of guys with different skill sets that are able to make key inside and outside perimeter shots. It was the first game, so we’re still trying to feel each other out and build our team chemistry. But other then that, I think we’re good.”

The win advanced Leesville to the HSOTT championship game against Riverside, which they won 84-73. Look forward to the varsity boy’s next game on Wednesday at 5:30, when they take on the 1-1 Apex Cougars.

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