Jerome Manuel has been a bit overshadowed by two of his teammates this season.
Hank McCladdie and Glenn Miller have received much of the attention from opposing defenses all season, and they have led the Knights with about 30 points combined a game.
But it was Manuel who stepped up Friday night and kept the Knights close for much of the first half against a Lakeside team playing for its first region win.
Manuel led the Knights with seven first-half points while McCladdie and Miller struggled with six combined points with Lakeside's defense keying on them.
The rest of the team came through after a 16-point first half to lead the Knights to a 52-41 win.
"The team needed to step up," Manuel said. "We just had to play as a team. We came out a little bit nervous, but we picked up our intensity. But we have a good team, a great team. Hank and Glenn are great players and I don't think anyone can shut them down. But the team always has to be ready to step up."
The Knights have looked like a playoff team for much of the season, going 11-3 since Nov. 30, but have struggled against Lakeside. In the two games the teams have played in the past week neither team's record seemed to matter.
On Jan. 15, Evans pulled away from the Panthers with a strong second-half run.
"It is a big rivalry game," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "Lakeside was going to give a great effort tonight."
The Knights (12-7) scored only two points in the first quarter but came alive in the second quarter, out-scoring Lakeside 14-5 and taking a 16-15 halftime advantage. Evans pulled away during the third quarter, out-scoring Lakeside 22-6.
Lakeside (1-14) got 36 points from Earl McCrommon this past week and led by eight heading into the fourth quarter before the Knights rallied. McCrommon scored 22 Friday night, but he didn't have much help. He scored 14 of his team's 26 points in the second half.
"He is such a phenomenal player," Kenny said. "I told him after the game to keep his head up because he will be playing at the next level."
The Lady Knights also emerged with a 48-30 win, giving Evans its first region win.
Evans was led by Rachel Hall, who scored a season-high 14 points, 13 of which came in the third quarter.
"We just got hot as a team," Hall said. "That was one of the most fun games I've played this year."
Hall paced Evans in the third quarter, in which it scored 22 points - the highest scoring quarter of the season for Evans.
"We are playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Evans coach Tim Whitfield. "We think that we can play with just anybody any team in the region. That hasn't been the case in the past here at Evans."
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