WEST CHESTER TWP. — Lebron Bennie-Powell was given the assignment of locking down one of the area’s best scorers on Friday night.
The Lakota East High School senior guard stepped up to the task.
Trey Perry scored a game-high 19 points, Bennie-Powell held Lakota West’s all-time points leader at bay and the Thunderhawks flew past the Firebirds 59-46 in the usual boisterous rivalry setting at Lakota West.
“Our game plan was to stop him from even catching it — keep the ball out of his hands,” Bennie-Powell said of Firebirds senior Nathan Dudukovich, who hasn’t been held to less than 23 points a game all season until Friday.
Dudukovich finished with just 12 for the Firebirds, who donned Army uniforms in a salute to the armed forces.
“We did what we needed to do to get the job done,” said Bennie-Powell, who had seven points and a game-high nine rebounds.
The Firebirds knocked their rivals out of the postseason 73-59 a year ago.
“This is a special one,” Lakota East coach Clint Adkins said. “This is a special game for their kids and our kids. This is why you play the game. All the stuff you put into it is for nights like this.
“Obviously this is a great win, and I’ve been on the other side of it,” Adkins added. “They beat us last year in the tournament. We know what it’s like to lose to them, and they know what it’s like to lose to us. It’s a great rivalry with two great teams.”
The Thunderhawks (3-4, 2-3 Greater Miami Conference) stormed out to a 20-8 lead after one quarter. Lakota East fired 54.5% from the floor and used a 10-0 run in the first half to build a 30-14 halftime advantage.
Derek Jackson made an easy layup to give Lakota East its largest lead of the night at 32-14 to start the third quarter, but it wasn’t until halfway through the fourth when Lakota West made any kind of push.
The Firebirds (3-3, 3-2 GMC) went on a 13-4 spurt that was capped off by a Bryson Curry layup, which cut the Thunderhawks’ lead to 45-40 with 3:28 left to play.
Lakota East went 14 of 18 from the free throw line to seal it after that.
“I know for a fact that they had a plan to take it out of Dudukovich’s hands, and they did that,” Lakota West coach Jim Leon said. “I’m not real big on the whole rivalry thing, because I’m not from around here. But the thing that hurt us tonight is we were in second place in the league — right behind Fairfield, who we had a shot to beat. My goal when I got here is to win the GMC, which hasn’t been done in quite a while. Losing this game sure hurts because of the rivalry, but we’re going to have to bounce back in the league.”
Perry, who tallied seven of his points in the first quarter to give the Thunderhawks the early momentum, said that him and his teammates were laser-focused all game.
“We were so locked in,” Perry said. “We came in here tonight with a good mentality. We came and got the win. My teammates were giving me energy. They were giving me confidence. They were giving me the ball.”
Julian Mitchell drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter and finished the game with 16 points for Lakota East, which hosts Columbus Africentric on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.
Davon Drane and Christopher Barber each scored 10 points for Lakota West, which plays a program from Australia (Northeast Bushranger) at home on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.