Lakeview Academy girls coach John Carrick expressed concern that his team’s 10-day layoff following a first-round bye would lead to a rusty start in its second-round bout against Darlington Thursday night, but the Lady Lions quickly put those worries to rest.
Lakeview Academy combined stifling defense with strong second-half, 3-point shooting to claim a dominant 58-36 win over the Lady Tigers and earn a ticket to state quarterfinals for the second time in the last three years. They will take on Wesleyan next in Gainesville.
“I was very, very pleased with how they played,” Carrick said. “... We didn’t look too rusty. I thought the kids did a really good job.”
And while Carrick was certainly happy with the way his team played, he said he is not prepared to let the positive performance lead to any sort of complacency going forward.
“You don’t need to be satisfied,” he said. “In other words, there’s eight teams left. Let’s do everything we can to make it to the last four.”
Eliza Snyder led the way for the Lady Lions, scoring 23 points and hitting a pair of 3s early in the fourth quarter that put the game permanently out of reach.
She said the team’s united mindset was the biggest key in staying focused all game despite not having played in over a week.
“I think we all just want to win and keep it going,” she said. “We all have the same energy and passion and we’re all hungry.”
Lakeview Academy started the game on a 12-4 run, with Snyder scoring the first two on a couple of free throws and the last three on a long range shot off the assist from Sadie Thrailkill. Snyder put in layups on consecutive possessions later in the quarter to give the Lady Lions their first double-digit lead of the night.
Darlington responded with a 4-0 run of its own to stay within eight points eight minutes in, but with the start of the second frame Lakeview Academy’s defense began to lock down.
The Lady Lions gave up just four points in the entire period, the last coming in the final seconds before the halftime break. Four different Lakeview Academy players contributed to the scoring as the Lady Lions built up a 12-point lead at the half.
Lakeview Academy brought the same consistent defense to the third quarter, and the offense finally started to heat up. Maddy Towles hit three treys in the frame, and the team combined to hit all seven of its free throw attempts. Towles scored the last eight points of the period to open up a 23-point lead going into the final quarter.
Despite the comfortable lead, Snyder and the Lady Lions made sure not to let up as the game wound down. She scored nine points in the fourth frame, including two early 3-pointers that put Lakeview Academy up by as much as 26, and a floater at the buzzer that put an exclamation mark on the team’s dominating victory.
“As a program, I think this is a really good step,” Snyder said. “We got to the Final Four a couple years ago, but we didn’t last year, so that’s our goal again this year, keep it going.”