JACKSON — An offense with good guard play is tough to find, harder to teach and impossible to stop, and Lawrence Clark and his staff at Lanier are working with a good hand.
The Bulldogs (10-5) claimed their latest victim Monday in the tip-off game of the Jackson Public Schools’ Christmas Classic over on Maple Street, erasing an early deficit to beat No. 8 Petal 75-66.
Lanier’s two senior guards — Mark Drone and Demaurian Edwards — were the difference, scoring 18 and 16 points, respectively. Junior guard Willie Jones scored 17.
The Bulldogs trailed 23-15 at the first break after a flurry of scoring from Petal two best players, forward Christian Parks and guard Jamar Jenkins, who both scored 10 points in the first quarter.
“We didn’t make many stops in that first quarter,” Lanier assistant coach Rafael Anderson said. “We made the switch after the first quarter back to what we were comfortable with — we went to man defensively and the guys kind of settled in.”
The change helped, and the Bulldogs started climbing back into the game in the second quarter. Junior Willie Jones hit a couple of big three-pointers and Lanier out-scored the Panthers 23-11. Petal (9-1) held the lead until right before halftime, when Lanier tied the game 34-34.
The trend continued in the second half, with Lanier building a 54-47 lead. Drone scored 10 more points in the third quarter. The Lanier defense turned in two great quarters, holding Petal to 24 total points in the second and third.
With Lanier nursing a lead late, Petal was forced to commit a lot of fouls, and the Bulldogs made them pay. Drone and Jones combined to go 10-for-10 from the charity stripe in the closing minutes to put the game away.
The loss was just the second for Petal (14-2).
“We’ve played some really tough competition early and we’ve had some success,” Petal coach Brandon said. “We’ve got some big wins over Biloxi and Gulfport… won the Vancleave tournament. We’ve got a good group of guys, we just have to get the ball to them when we have guys open.”