Cavs keep rolling with MLK Classic win

Jan. 16—The men's basketball renaissance at Southern Lee continued over the weekend, as the Cavaliers scored a win over a previously unbeaten travel team from Australia and then downed a ranked team in an official contest 18 hours later.

Southern used a visit from the Australian Travelers of Melbourne, Australia as their Senior Night game Friday night. The traveling team has been playing against US high school teams as part of a goodwill tour, and had won all 10 of its games coming into Cavalier Gym. Against Southern, the Broncos started fast and led by 10 points in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers responded by ratcheting up the defensive pressure and quickly caught back up. The Australians responded in turn, and the teams battled through a full official game with Southern pulling away late for a 67-53 victory.

Southern honored its seniors in the various winter sports prior to the tip-off of the varsity game. The Broncos had a JV team as well, and they beat the JV Cavaliers to start the night off. The varsity game had the unusual occurrence of two national anthems, as Southern played "Advance Australia Fair" in honor of the guests, and an Australian flag was displayed in the gym.

However, as fun as that game was, winning the next afternoon at Red Springs High School was more important for the Cavaliers, the seventh-ranked team in the 3A East according to MaxPreps. Red Springs has hosted the MLK Classic, a showcase event of teams from around the area, every year since 2021. Southern was paired in a 4 p.m. contest against Fairmont, which came in at 9-2 and as the ninth-ranked 2A East team.

The Cavaliers were favored to win this matchup, but the Golden Tornadoes hadn't run up their record against weak teams. Fairmont swept through a three-day tournament at Pinecrest before Christmas, winning the championship with a decisive 13-point win over the Patriots. Their only two losses before facing Southern were by a combined four points to two 4A teams from Fayetteville.

Even though head coach Gaston Collins was not available due to a family situation, the Cavaliers were in good hands under assistant coach Robert Locust, who led the team against the Golden Tornadoes.

Nysheed Williams led the Cavaliers with 20 points, followed by Isaiah Upchurch with 12 and Cooper Harrington with 10.

The victory over Fairmont upped Southern's record to 14-1 going into a Friday night contest at Union Pines.