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#5 Lakeside ran away from #7 Silver Bluff. Is Lakeside the area’s best team? Is Kalen Williams the best player?

#5 Lakeside used third quarter run to defeat #7 Silver Bluff at home Wednesday and improve to 4-1 for the season.



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Lakeside’s Kalen Williams finishes the season’s top play so far.

#5 Lakeside used a 28-4 third quarter blitz to defeat #7 Silver Bluff at home Wednesday to improve to 4-1 for the season and continue to provide support for the argument, made by my colleague Rob Drew and others I’m sure, that the Panthers are the area’s best team. Another belief that is held by many – that Lakeside also has the area’s best player – was reinforced when star senior point guard Kalen Williams let loose for 26 points, including 2 that lit local social media feeds ablaze:

The Panthers’ only loss came in last weekend’s famed “Holiday Hoopsgiving” tournament in Atlanta to Carmel Christian, a nationally regarded team and defending North Carolina state champion. Lakeside’s 4 victories were by an average margin of 13 points, with the last two over Richmond (75-64) and Silver Bluff being the most impressive. The Panthers also returned most of their top contributors from last season’s class 6A state playoff elite 8 squad. So Lakeside may very well deserve the area’s top spot in the hearts and minds of area hoops fans.

As for Williams and whether or not he is the area’s best player… I think the correct response to that is that such things are decided on the court. And that they become crystal clear throughout the grind of an exciting pre-region schedule, like most teams are playing now, and later a grueling region and post season slate. Kalen sure seems to have adopted the “let my play do my talking” outlook. And his play shouted loudly Wednesday when the player with the quickest first step around ran off 18 points during Lakeside’s pivotal 28-4 spurt that broke open a 39-32 halftime lead held by the Panthers.

Kalen’s big dunk Wednesday had to be the most impressive play of the season. He walked the ball up the court against a bigger and similarly athletic defender, blew past him clean between mid court and the free throw line, and, having cleared just enough space to gather himself, threw the ball down with authority from high above the rim over the hand of that same defender, who was high above the rim on the contest as well.

The defender mentioned above is Latavian Lawrence, who just happens to be one of the area’s most exciting “breakout players,” which is to say that most of the people who follow hoops on the Georgia side of the border aren’t familiar with him yet. Lawrence, a junior, is listed at 6-5, and he scored 22 points against Lakeside after netting 25 in Tuesday’s 84-57 win over Barnwell.

13 of Lawrence’s points Wednesday came during the first half, when he showed a full range of offensive abilities:

The same thing, basic unfamiliarity with the player, that may have caused many AugBball readers to not know about Lawrence, may have caused people to disagree with my ranking Silver Bluff #7 on AugBball’s recent “top 10 area teams” list. And many of those same people may believe that last night’s result means the Bulldogs don’t belong. I would disagree. Having Lakeside run away from you in the second half in their home gym does not preclude a team from being among the area’s best.

Silver Bluff, the #6 ranked class 2A team in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association preseason poll, will get a chance to get back on track Friday with another difficult road game at South Aiken, which finished last season in the semifinals of the class 4A state playoffs. Lakeside is off until Tuesday, when they will visit Emerald.

High School

[Livestream] Evans Hosts Effingham Co. in State Playoff Showdown

Evans battles Effingham in Round 1 of the Georgia 6A State Playoffs. Live from Evans High.



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