Lakeview Academy wasn’t perfect in Saturday night’s Region 8-A tournament final against Riverside Military, but when it mattered most, the Lions did just enough. After trailing by three points at halftime, Lakeview Academy rallied in the third quarter and dominated much of the fourth to claim a 79-73 win over the Eagles and earn the region title.
“The kids set lofty goals every year, and this was one of their goals, was to win our region,” Lions coach Todd Cottrell said. “I thought they played really well in doing what we asked them to do. I’m always proud of them, because they’re such good kids. They played well tonight.”
Senior Adam Cottrell scored 31 points, adding six rebounds and five assists to power Lakeview Academy to victory, doing some of his best work in the most crucial moments. His nine fourth-quarter points played a major role in holding the Eagles off in the game’s closing minutes.
“It feels awesome,” Adam Cottrell said. “There’s nothing better than seeing all these guys so excited. We’ve worked really hard since the offseason all the way through the season. We had a rough stretch a couple weeks ago, but we found a way this week and got a good win tonight.”
The game was a tightly contested and fast-paced affair largely from the opening tip. Riverside Military struck the first blow with a 10-4 run to start the game off. Shad Dabney finished the streak off with a steal and fast-break layup that gave the Eagles the early advantage.
But Lakeview Academy went on to score the next 10 points, thanks largely to a pair of treys from Cottrell and fellow senior Blake McIntyre. The Lions claimed a three-point lead after one quarter, but Riverside Military’s physical presence down low turned the tide in the second period.
Big men Khalid Duke and Isaac Teasley combined to score 10 points on put backs following offensive rebounds in the second frame, as the Eagles stormed back to take a 40-37 lead at halftime.
With the third quarter came yet another change in momentum.
McIntyre scored seven points in the first two minutes of the period, hitting a 3-pointer, putting together a conventional three-point play, as well as dishing an assist to Cottrell. The two senior Lakeview Academy players scored the first 11 points of the half for the Lions, and turned a three-point deficit into a six-point lead.
Lakeview kept the heat on in the final frame, responding to nearly every shot Riverside Military hit and prevented the Eagles from making a late run. A 9-1 scoring streak from Lakeview Academy that spanned three minutes in the middle of the quarter gave the Lions a nine-point lead with two minutes to go in the game. Cottrell’s pair of layups off outlet passes in the final minute put the game permanently out of reach.
The win earns Lakeview Academy a bye in the state playoffs, as well as a home game in the first contest they do have to play in the state tournament. It also helps to get a Lions program that had ended the regular season on a rare slump, back into the form the team has come to expect over the past couple of years.
“We didn’t finish the regular season like we would have liked to,” Todd Cottrell said. “But tournament time is different. We played really well in our region tournament, and hopefully we’ll play well in our state tournament.”