Statement made

Feb. 09, 2013 @ 07:25 AM

There was no shortage of electricity in the gym Friday night at East Rutherd as the Cavaliers welcomed conference opponent Freedom to Forest City.

In front of a packed house, the Cavs took down a highly-touted Patriots team for the second time this season, 74-55.

“The best two days of practice this week were Wednesday and Thursday, and it showed. We played like we practiced,” East head coach Brad Levine said after the win. “

Entering the contest the Patriots (16-4, 7-3 SMAC) ranked ahead of East (17-4, 9-1 SMAC) in the most recent Charlotte observer Sweet 16 poll. Freedom held the fifth spot while the Cavs were No. 9.

“It doesn’t matter what other people think of us,” Levine said. “What matters is what those boys in the locker room think of each other.”

Before 20 seconds had a chance to tick off the clock, East Rutherford’s Jarvis Hopper gave the Cavs a 4-0 lead with an easy layup followed by a steal on the Freedom inbound resulting in another bucket.

T.J. Watkins sparked his incredible night with eight points over the next 4 minutes forcing Freedom into a timeout trailing 21-8.

“He’s not one of the guys that you expect to score a bunch, but that’s that extra spurt,” Levine said of Watkins’ hot start. “He was highly active.”

Out of the timeout the Patriots found their stroke from deep and cut the Cavalier lead to 25-17 at the end of the first quarter.

Freedom used two Khris Gardin 3’s to open the second quarter on a 6-2 to close within four at 27-23, but a Cavalier runn capped by six-straight points from Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez stretched the lead back to 35-23 with 3:47 left in the half.

The raucous atmosphere never settled as the two teams played neck-and-neck the rest of the way.

East Rutherford took a 43-31 halftime lead into the locker room.

The two teams evened out in the third until the Cavs caught fire after a diving C.J. Norman saved East from a out of bounds turnover allowing DeVonte Boykins to corral the loose ball and converted a tightly-contested layup.

Boykins shouted towards the rafters as the ball fell through the hoop and his team responded taking a 59-42 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“{Boykins} was able to muscle his way and get to the hole tonight,” Levine said. “He scored in every quarter and everything he did was a muscle play.”

In the fourth the Cavs continued to hold off the Patriots.

Boykins, Waldroup-Rodriguez and Roddric Ross were able to attack the rim almost at will against an undersized Freedom team.

After beating Freedom by 14 in their meeting in Morganton, East downed the Patriots by 19 in their house, 74-55.

Waldroup-Rodriguez led the Cavs with 21 points while Boykins finished with 15, Watkins with 12 and Hopper and Ross each poured in 11.

We rebounded and shared the ball tonight,” Levine said looking at the stats following the game. “I love my boys.”

The Cavs return to the floor Tuesday night when they travel to Shelby in search of sole possession of first place in the conference. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Lloyd Little Gymnasium in Shelby.

I don’t think I’ll drop any of the excitement from this win to be honest,” Levine said when asked about his next big matchup. “Our kids will be focused. They understand what’s at stake. East Rutherford is going to try to win this conference championship.”

E. Rutherford 74, Freedom 55

ER^25^18^16^15 SEmD 74

Fredom^17^14^11^13 SEmD 55