AUGUSTA — Seacoast Christian had the lead and control of the first half, and now it had the ball.

Tim Yeaton’s block and outlet pass to Caleb La Croix had the Guardians and their fans ready to explode if and when the 5-foot-9 guard finished it off at the other end.

La Croix, who made a number of big shots to give the Guardians their lead and momentum, took three purposeful dribbles and raised the ball in his right hand for a layup. Trailing him, 6-foot-4 Valley senior Cody Laweryson closed a step on him as both entered the lane, then leapt to meet La Croix at the hoop and swatted the ball out of bounds.

“We just needed to stop baskets,” a matter-of-fact Laweryson said.

Instead of giving Seacoast the validation it was seeking for in a fine first half, the sequence gave Valley the spark it was seeking.

“That always gets us going when somebody gets a big block like that. It really pumps us up on defense and makes us want to get it more,” senior forward Collin Miller said.

“It was huge,” Valley coach Luke Hartwell said. “And Cody’s been doing it all season.”

Laweryson’s 3-point shooting (three in each half) kept the Cavaliers in the game as they tried to sort out how to attack the Guardians’ packed-in zone. His block inspired the Cavaliers to another level.

“Everybody wants to get in on the action and it really picks the whole flow of the game up for us,” Miller said.

The tide quickly shifted in Valley’s favor after the block. Miller, quiet for most of the first half because Seacoast’s zone was allowing him zero room to operate down low, converted a three-point play to cut the deficit in half, 20-17. Austin Cates followed with a steal and layup, then Laweryson buried a 3 from the Hancock Lumber logo on the Augusta Civic Center court, a line drive that had the unmistakable ringing sound of a ball skimming the back of the rim before it finds the net.

The lead, and momentum, were Valley’s for the rest of the game.

Miller book-ended Valley’s 10-0 run to end the half with a putback at the halftime buzzer. Laweryson (26 points) remained the Cavaliers’ bread-and-butter in the second half, but with Miller in the flow, they had the balance Valley’s offense requires to be running at peak efficiency.

“When we’ve been successful is when we’ve had inside-out basketball,” Hartwell said. “I always tell them, 3-point shots are good shots when you have guys in to rebound. So when we get the paint touch and then kick it back out, we have a lot of 3-point shooters (to take advantage).”

Aside from Laweryson (six 3-pointers), the 3s weren’t falling too frequently. But Miller scored nine of his 14 points (to go with seven rebounds) in the second half and the complement to Laweryson it needed to keep the Guardians at the gate.

“Collin was playing tough, especially in the second half, getting all of those rebounds and finishing around the rim,” Laweryson said.

“With Tim Yeaton I knew, he’s a great basketball player and I really needed to step up to even play with him,” Miller said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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