Lakeview Academy’s Adam Cottrell didn’t hit many shots in Wednesday night’s boys basketball matchup against Tallulah Falls, but when the Lions needed him most, his aim was true.
After allowing the Indians to storm back from an 11-point Lakeview Academy advantage to start the fourth quarter, Cottrell made it to the free-throw line for a pivotal one-and-one with under 30 seconds to play as the Lions clung to a two-point lead. Cottrell connected on both attempts, pushing the lead back to four and icing the Lions’ 49-45 win in Gainesville.
“That’s clutch,” Lions senior point guard Blake McIntyre said. “I know he didn’t shoot it the way he wanted to tonight, but just seeing those free throws go in is good for a shooter. It’s good for his psyche. I’m glad he made them.”
McIntyre led the team with 17 points, including four 3-pointers in the first quarter that helped the Lions (5-2) build an early lead. Arturo Varela added 13 for the home team.
Matthew Weidner dominated scoring for Tallulah Falls (4-6), putting up 24 in the Indians’ losing effort.
Both teams struggled defensively to start the non-region contest. Weidner was dominant for the Indians in the post, scoring 10 in the opening eight minutes. Lakeview Academy fought back with constant ball movement and careful shot selection.
The Lions managed to get McIntyre open looks from behind the arc on three straight possessions in the middle of the quarter, and he connected on all three.
“We moved the ball really well in the first half,” Lakeview Academy coach Todd Cottrell said. “We were getting into a little flow and a rhythm.”
The Lions faltered a bit to start the second quarter, but finished the frame strong. After yielding a pair of layups to Weidner early in the period and struggling to get open looks, the team flipped a switch down the stretch.
Lakeview Academy ended the quarter with a 10-0 run over the final four minutes before the break. Varela kicked things off with a pair of shots, and McIntyre finished the streak with an acrobatic layup he hit while going to the ground while drawing contact. He converted the three-point play to give the Lions a six-point lead at halftime.
“I know I’m small, so I’ve got to be able to do that, being small,” McIntyre said of the effort. “It’s just all coaching and training.”
The Lions extended their lead throughout the third quarter behind a strong start from Roman Yaskulka and an efficient finish from Varela.
Yaskulka scored the first basket of the second half and made a couple more shots near the midpoint of the frame. His 3-pointer gave Lakeview Academy a nine-point lead with about two minutes left to play in the period.
Varela took things from there, scoring two of the last three baskets in the quarter, including the final shot at the buzzer that put the Lions up by 11 with only eight minutes left to play.
Then, things started to go awry for the hosts.
Weidner scored a quick two baskets to start the final quarter and hit a 3 that brought the Indians within four points with four minutes left to play. Sebastian Herrera connected on a layup a couple possessions later, making it a two-point game. But Lakeview Academy’s defense tightened up from there.
The Lions did not allow a single point over the final two minutes, and Cottrell’s free throws provided a safety net for the team as it finished off the home win.
“We’re a good shooting team, but we didn’t shoot especially well tonight, especially in the second half,” coach Cottrell said. “... We’ve got to do a little better job. ... We’re better when we share, and we didn’t share very well in the second half. That’s something we can correct though, which is exciting. We found a way to win on a night that was tough.”
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 57, TALLULAH FALLS 43: Sadie Thrailkill had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Lady Lions (5-2), and Eliza Snyder scored 20 points with eight boards in the win.
Joelle Snyder was also in double-digits for Lakeview Academy with 14 points, while Savannah Kinsey contributed eight rebounds as the Lady Lions ran away with the home victory.
The Lady Lions will be action in action on Friday at 6 p.m. when they take on Franklin, N.C.