STAUNTON – Robert E. Lee opened its boys basketball season with an impressive, and easy, victory over Buffalo Gap Tuesday night at the Paul Hatcher Gym. The Leemen won 88-48.
Darius George led Lee with 27 points, but it wasn’t the game-high total. Gap’s Addison McGuffin finished with 29 points.
Lee’s Jarvis Vaughan added 17 points and Jayden Williams finished with 11 in the win. Jahleel Pettiford added 10 points for Lee. Carter Rivenburg had nine points for the Bison.
“In the beginning we had our jitters and our doubts and stuff,” said Vaughan as he stood on the court holding a plate of cookies after the win. “But then we came back strong. We made some small mistakes which were unnoticed by the fans, but to us we noticed them. We’ll go back in practice and work on stuff.”
A pair of big runs opened up Lee’s lead. In the first quarter, with the Leemen in front 7-5, George buried a 3 to start a 17-0 run. Then, in the third quarter with the game already well in hand, Lee went on a 16-0 run. This time George had a pair of free throws — his 21st and 22nd points of the night — to get the streak started. George and Williams knocked down 3-pointers in the run.
Several Lee players put on a show for the fans. George had an alley-oop dunk with an assist from Pettiford in the first quarter. Then Vaughan added a dunk to start the second quarter and give Lee a 26-7 lead. Finally, in the third quarter, Tyrese Haliburton got in on the dunk party with a two-hander to put Lee in front 53-25.
Most of the starters, including George, sat for the fourth quarter. Lee coach Jarrett Hatcher was happy he got a chance to get some of his bench players game experience on opening night.
“We’re in different spots as far as experience,” Hatcher said of his team and Gap’s. “Our guys played well for a game in November. Some of the things that we need to correct and fix — too many fouls, poor defensive rotations — we did all those things that you do early on. I thought offensively we did a nice job. We didn’t turn the ball over a lot. We only had four turnovers in the first half.”
In addition to George and Vaughan, Hatcher said he was pleased with the play of Isaiah Elliston off the bench. Hatcher also pointed toward his guards — Williams, Pettiford and Blaize Velvin — saying they gave him a good effort Tuesday night.
Lee was without one of its big guns, 6-foot-5 Manny Johnson. Hatcher said he hoped to have him back soon, adding another weapon to an already dangerous team.
There is a lot of focus on this Lee team to make a deep postseason run this year. Vaughan said that doesn’t bother the players, who try not to focus on those distractions.
“We kind of put the social media to the side,” Vaughan said. “We focus in the gym on the team. We’re family. The talk just stays on the outside.”
Lee returns home Friday to host Alleghany, while Buffalo Gap travels to James River that same night.
Lee High won the jayvee game 53-39.
BUFFALO GAP 7 13 17 11 — 48
ROBERT E. LEE 24 22 29 13 — 88