LAKELAND, Fla. – Rio Grande Valley (9-7) fell victim to a surging Lakeland Magic (8-7) offense on the road, 118-98.
Gary Payton II racked up 27 points, seven rebounds, and three assists and steals.
Lakeland had a strong first quarter, managing a 37-29 lead by the end of one. The Magic benefited from a 17-0 run in the middle portion of the quarter and never looked back. The Vipers were assisted on offense by Tim Bond, who came off the bench with 10 first-quarter points.
As the second quarter rolled around, the Magic continued their home dominance over the Vipers. Orlando Magic two-way player, Amile Jefferson, led the squad with 14 points at the half. Brandon Sampson scored 12 first-half points to help cut into the Magic lead. Payton ll also had 12 points by the midway point. Lakeland went into the locker room boasting a 63-46 lead, pleasing the home crowd.
The Vipers sprung into life in the third period, outscoring the Magic 33-23. The Vipers silenced the crowd as they made their push to slice into the Lakeland lead, which stood at 86-79. Payton ll continued to roll through the contest, totaling 25 points as the third closed out. Bond was creeping into a double-double performance with his 15 points and nine rebounds through three.
Lakeland surged to a 118-98 victory at home. BJ Johnson lit up the scoreboard with 30 points. Jefferson tallied 24 of his own.
The Vipers kept pace throughout the contest but allowed Lakeland to break away late, which resulted in a tough road loss for the Vipers. Sampson scored at least 20 points in a game for the fifth time this season. Sampson added on four assists and seven rebounds to solidify his efforts.
The Vipers travel north on Monday, up to Fort Wayne, Indiana to face the Mad Ants. For more information, contact the RGV Vipers at 956-56-ARENA or visit www.rgvipers.com.