With the start his Bulldogs have had, coach Cervantes Boddy hopes the solid play is duplicated at season’s end.
After beating Aquinas the night before, the Butler boys basketball team pulled away in the second half Saturday for a 73-60 win against Laney at the 100 Black Men of Augusta’s Thanksgiving Basketball Classic held at Richmond Academy.
“It’s very important, it’s very critical to start strong and off on the right foot,” Boddy said. “We worked hard. Our big guys work hard and our guards work hard. Hard work pays off.”
Dan Lambert led all scorers with 27 points – 16 in the second half – as the Bulldogs, who played for the Class AAA state championship last season, scored at least 20 points in three quarters.
Lambert was a force inside, as was Ronald Jones, especially when Laney’s Shaquille Cook fouled out with less than six minutes to play. Cook was the Wildcats’ main offensive threat in the third, when he scored 10 of his team-leading 16 points.
Jones and Lambert dominated in the paint, getting close baskets inside on putbacks and layups, but the perimeter players also hit big shots.
Four different Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer in the third period. When Jeff Menefee connected for the team’s seventh 3 of the night in the fourth, Butler’s lead swelled to 13.
The Bulldogs’ offense wasn’t always as consistent in the first half. Butler, which seemed to follow one turnover with another at times, took a 30-28 lead after two quarters.
After a hurried pace in the opening period, when Laney used Butler’s turnovers for quick baskets and Jamie West scored eight of his 14 points, the scoring slowed a bit in the second as the teams combined for only 16 points.
But Lambert, who put up 11 points in the opening quarter to help erase his team’s early 11-4 and 15-8 deficits, found success driving and also hit a 3-pointer during the comeback.
The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time at 28-25 on a Menefee 3-pointer late in the second, but the game remained close until Butler went up by double digits in the final quarter.
“(Most) people have the will to win, but few people have the will to prepare to win,” said Laney coach Jerry Hunter, echoing Bob Knight.