James Lawton flourished when Church Farm turned up the defensive heat on Holy Ghost Prep in the second half of their Bicentennial Athletic League game Monday night.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior guard netted all 12 of his points after intermission as the Griffins surged past the Firebirds, 41-32, in an Independence Division matchup in Bensalem.
"We started to get after them, and that was the difference," Lawton said. "That's when we were able to get out and score in transition."
Lawton shot 4 for 4 from the field and the same from the line to finish as his team's leading scorer. The second-year starter added five rebounds, with three on offense, and two steals.
"He's the engine that makes us go," Church Farm coach Marc Turner said. "He's incredibly quick. He's tough, and he's smart."
The Griffins were down, 9-3, at the end of the first quarter and trailed, 16-9, at the break. A 12-2 run at the start of the second half gave the visitors the lead for good.
Lawton's right-side drive and his wide-open follow of a missed three-pointer gave the Griffins (13-5 overall, 10-3 division) a 34-27 advantage with 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining. Soon after, he converted both ends of a one-and-one to make it 36-29.
Lawton transferred to Church Farm, a private boarding school in Exton, after spending one year at Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter.
The Brooklyn native is averaging 10.5 points, six assists, and four rebounds per game this season. "Before I take my shots, I try to get my teammates involved," the 18-year-old said.
Lawton is also a member of the school's track and field team. He concentrates on the jumps, the 100-meter dash, and the 4x100 relay.
Against Holy Ghost, which slipped to 12-6 and 9-4, Faustas Kulbickas chipped in 10 points, with three treys, 10 boards, and three assists for the defending PIAA District 1 Class 2A champions.
Kulbickas, a 6-4 wing, and fellow senior Gus Veniukevicius, a 6-2 combination guard, are both from Lithuania. Veniukevicius managed seven second-half points, including a third-quarter trey, and three assists against the Firebirds.
The Griffins offense revolves around 6-10 sophomore center John Bol Ajak. The Sudan native received scholarship offers last year from St. Joseph's and Temple. Georgetown, Penn State, and Syracuse are also in the mix.
"For a sophomore, he plays with a lot of poise and intelligence," Turner said. "The sky is the limit for him."
Despite battling the flu, Ajak produced 12 boards (three on offense), 10 points, six blocks, an assist, and a steal against Holy Ghost.
"He's come a long way since last year," Lawton said. "He's a good leader and has a high basketball IQ. When he's a senior, he's going to be very good."
Lawton has received recruiting interest from Manor College, Valley Forge Military Academy, and Williamson Trade School.