FAIRMONT — The force of gravity brought Kalan Locklear’s feet back down to the court, and along with it came a huge smile across his face. He’d just risen up for the put-back and threw down his first ever dunk in a high school game – and it felt good.
“I just saw it come off the rim and I went up and got it,” Locklear said, with that same grin coming back again. “That was my first dunk of the year, so I was happy about that.”
The feeling of the moment was also shared by the rest of the Purnell Swett boys’ basketball team and continued to resonate throughout in a collective recovery blowout win, 81-53, over Lake View in the Robeson County Shootout.
“We want to be playing tomorrow, but I told them it is what it is,” coach Jeremy Sampson recalls saying before the game. “We still have a chance to win today here and Saturday to finish five and five.”
Yesterday, the team hadn’t been able to close out a comeback and lost by one point to Red Springs. They were frustrated they would continue play in the consolation bracket of the tournament, but decided to focus on securing a spot in the final Saturday games for fifth place at UNCP. Their team performance on Thursday made sure that would be the case.
“The kids knew I was frustrated and I said, ‘Look guys we are here, it is what it is. Play hard,’” Sampson said. “I don’t care who the opponent is, you’ve got to play.”
For his part, Locklear had seven points in the contest. His teammate Darriante Parker highlighted the scoring effort with a team-high 15 points, followed by Kyler Page and Xavier Jones who tied with 11 points, though many contributed from the stat line.
“We overmatched them talent wise and in size,” Sampson said. “I was disappointed in the lack of effort from some guys at times, but some guys off the bench stepped up.”
After opening the contest down 5-2, the Rams overtook the lead 6-5 early and never let up. Just after halftime, Locklear knocked down a free throw to lift the team to a 20-point lead that continued to increase often well into the 30s.
They took to scoring in bunches at a time moving the ball from defense up the floor to take advantage of their speed. At times, they ran the floor for a basket, forced a few turnovers and finished hard at the other end of the floor to add points before the Gators knew what had hit them.
They allowed 17 and 18 points in the first and last quarters of the game, but pressed hard on defense in the middle of the game allowing eight points in the second quarter when they scored the most all game and just 10 more in the third quarter when they added 19 to push the game out of reach.
It was a positive recovery win for a team that was unsatisfied with they way things had ended 24 hours prior to the game.
Next up, the Rams will face St. Pauls on Saturday in the fifth-place contest at 10 a.m. at UNCP. They’ll have a chance to continue to trend upwards and reach .500 on the season headed into the Winter Break.
“We beat them by one point (earlier in the season), so it’s going to be a good game,” Locklear said. “We’ve just got to go in there and play our game, fast paced, push it, just don’t let them play their game.”
The Purnell Swett girls basketball team defeated Lake View 53-46 on Thursday to pick up its second win of the season.
Chelsea Jones scored 12 points to lead the Lady Rams, with Nakyra Mitchell and Tiona Jacobs adding eight points each.
Purnell Swett will face St. Pauls on Saturday morning.