Vanguard pulls away in win over Lake Weir

Balanced scoring leads Knights past Hurricanes

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Posted December 6, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Vanguard placed three players in double figures, with senior guard Johnardo Turner’s game-high 12 points leading the way, as the Knights beat Lake Weir by a score of 60-43 on Wednesday night.

The win improved Vanguard, which is being led by first-year coach Travis Licht, to 2-1 on the season.

“It’s early in the season and we’re working some kinks out,” said Licht. “We just got a few guys back from football this week, so things are going to be a little sloppy right now. I thought overall we played hard, had a really good second quarter and built a lead. We need to improve rebounding the ball and cut down on the turnovers.”

The loss dropped Lake Weir to 1-3 overall.

Lake Weir sophomore point guard Amar Young scored four of his team-high 11 points to give the Hurricanes a 6-5 lead midway through the first quarter.

Vanguard answered as senior Ha’Keim Curbeam drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and made a floater in the lane to give the Knights a 14-10 lead heading to the second period.

Lake Weir went ice cold from the floor and Vanguard utilized a suffocating full-court press to force the Hurricanes into several turnovers, one of 19 on the night, which the Knights converted into easy baskets.

Vanguard extended its lead as Toure James scored on a put-back and Turner added six points to give Vanguard a commanding 30-14 lead.

“We’re going to press every opponent because that’s how we play,” coach Licht said. “We want to play 94 feet of defense, force turnovers and go up-tempo and wear the other team down.”

Class 4A Lake Weir attempted to make a run as Brandon Smith Jr., scored four of his eight points and Young drove for a basket and drilled a 3-pointer.

But Vanguard stayed focused and kept its lead as Derek Singleton nailed a 3-pointer from the left baseline and Cameron Powell scored in the paint to give the Knights a 46-29 lead heading to the final eight minutes.

The teams traded baskets with Lake Weir’s Amari Kiner scoring six of his nine points, while Vanguard senior Jandrian Smith added three of his nine points.

Both teams substituted liberally in the final stanza with Powell scoring four of his 10 points, while Knight Alex Griffin added an inside bucket.

Lake Weir’s Amari Kineri scored six of his team-high 11 points and Brandon Smith Jr., added a bucket before Singleton scored in the paint and Smith knocked down a jump shot for the Knights.

Vanguard is back on the hardwood on Saturday when the Knights take on Wekiva in a tournament at North Marion.

“I like where we’re at as a team,” coach Licht said. “The more we play the better our team chemistry will be.”

Lake Weir hosts North Marion on Thursday night.

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