TURNER — The final two games of Leavitt’s schedule has it hosting to top- and bottom-ranked teams in Eastern Class B. It’s a fitting good news, bad news end to the Hornets’ season.
Even Tuesday night’s win against winless Erskine Academy had its pluses and minuses. The Hornets led throughout and snapped a six-game losing streak. Unfortunately, the win doesn’t help Leavitt’s slim-to-none playoff hopes unless Erskine pulls off an upset over Winslow on Thursday.
Mitchel Davis scored a game-high 19 points and Leavitt ramped up its defense with a 70-45 win over the Eagles.
The Hornets (4-13) emphasized defense after allowing 85 points in a loss to Winslow last week, and it showed. Their aggressive fullcourt trap forced seven turnovers in the first four minutes, 11 in the first quarter, as they zipped out to a 16-7 lead.
“Holding them out for the first eight (minutes) was good. We’ve been working on defense a lot in practice because we’ve been giving up a lot of points,” Davis said.
Aside from a portion of the third quarter, the Hornets, who ended up forcing 25 turnovers, dominated the action.
“We’ve been working hard the second half of the season on our pressure defense. Tonight it actually looked like we knew what we were doing on the floor,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “Our rotations were pretty tight. We did a good job of getting back and Mitch and Gabe (Seely) got a lot of blocked shots on the end of some of those.”
Seely (nine points, six steals off the bench) combined with Eli Calder (14 points, four steals), Korey Caito (four points, three blocks) and Max Green (seven points, three steals) to harass Erskine’s ball-handlers and get the Hornets transition offense going.
Davis was the offensive beneficiary early, scoring nine points in the first quarter as the Hornets opened up a 16-7 lead.
“It’s easy to get shots in transition, and it opens up shots for other guys when people are guarding down on me,” Davis said.
Erskine started to do just that whenever Davis got the ball in the low block, so he started finding Calder and Zac Goulette (eight points) open on the perimeter. That sparked an 11-2 Leavitt run to close the half with a 36-18 lead.
Levi Morin’s 3-pointer increased the cushion to 19 early in the third quarter as Erskine (0-17) went the first 3:42 without a field goal. But the Hornets started getting careless with the ball themselves, turning it over nine times in the period as Erskine went on a 12-0 run to pull within 41-34 on Josh Reed’s layup.
The Hornets finished the quarter strong, scoring the final six points to put the lead back into double digits to stay. Levi Morin threw a long pass to Davis over the top of Erskine’s press for a layup that made it 47-34 at the end of the quarter. Calder started the fourth with a 3-pointer and the Hornets were on their way to the win.
“Hopefully we can build on it,” said Hathaway, whose team is currently on the outside looking in for the Western B tournament. “I don’t think (a win against Oceanside) would be enough to get us in, but they are worth a lot of Heal points.”
Trevor Browne led Erskine with 16 points.