Final boys standings
2. East Hall
5. West Hall
6. Lakeview Academy
7. North Hall
8. Flowery Branch
Most Valuable Player: Ty Cockfield, Johnson
Sportsmanship Award: Joey Scheman
Hunter Atkinson, West Hall
Hunter Konuszewski, Flowery Branch
Paul Avery, Lakeview Academy
Jordan Pulliam, Chestatee
Nam Van Dulm, Gainesville
Carson Heinen, North Hall
Drew Dunham, Johnson
Kyvon Davenport, East Hall
With a celebratory backflip at half court by Ty Cockfield as the final buzzer sounded, more than two decades of Lanierland Tournament frustration came to an end for the Johnson boys basketball team.
The Knights held off a tenacious East Hall team in Saturday’s championship game at Lakeview Academy, defeating the Vikings 76-71 for Johnson’s first boys title since 1988.
“I’ve always dreamed of earning something like this,” Cockfield said. “I’ve worked so hard, and two weeks before this, I made this a goal.”
Johnson made up for its runner-up finish a season ago, when it lost to North Hall in the finals.
But it took everything the Knights had in them.
Johnson never led by more than seven points at any point of the second half, and was up by only one, 68-67, with a 1:40 remaining in the fourth quarter
It was only fitting that Cockfield, who scored a team-high 26 points and was named tournament MVP, made the key free throws Johnson needed in the final minute of play to hold on to its narrow lead as the clock winded down.
“We practice so much, and when we don’t make them at practice, we have to run,” said Cockfield, who was 13 of 14 from the line. “We just try to get better every day, and that’s helped us in the long run.”
Living up to the hype of a typical Lanierland championship game, the two teams were nearly deadlocked in an even battle for the better part of three quarters.
Had it not been for a 20-6 lead after the first quarter, Johnson may not have been able to stop the surging Vikings, who scored 26 points in the second quarter and cut the Knights’ lead to four at halftime.
Instead, Johnson never allowed East Hall to steal the lead at any point the rest of the way, aside from a brief moment early in the third quarter.
“It’s just a culmination of their hard work,” Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. “We push them, and our schedule has been brutal – we’ve played some really good teams. All those things make you ready for moments like this. I knew East Hall wasn’t going to lay down.”
Only six Johnson players made their way onto the stat sheet, but they certainly made it count. Four Knights ended up in double figures, including James Hodges’ 18, Justin Jones’ 14 and Carter Cagle’s 10.
Cockfield scored eight points in Johnson’s enormous first quarter, but East Hall immediately began chipping away at the Knights’ momentum in the second.
Kyvon Davenport was a big factor in that happening. The Vikings’ center scored 11 of his team-high 23 points in the second quarter, as East Hall turned what was looking like a blowout into a 37-33 game at halftime.
The Vikings even took a short lead two minutes into the third on a Triston Cooper’s 3-pointer that gave his team a 38-37 lead.
East Hall never led again, but it didn’t make things easy for Johnson. Down 51-44 as the third quarter wrapped, Caleb Holtzclaw (13 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut the Vikings’ deficit to four entering the fourth.
They just simply couldn’t catch Johnson.
“Credit goes to Johnson – they made the plays down the stretch that had to be made,” East Hall coach Joe Dix said. “There were a lot of opportunities tonight that weren’t taken advantage of. We did some good things that kept us in the game, but down the stretch we came out of two timeouts and didn’t execute.”
Davenport recorded a double-double with 14 rebounds. Antonio Maddox scored 11 for East Hall and Jacquen Hopkins added 10.
GAINESVILLE BOYS 79, CHESTATEE 63: Nam Van Dulm and Messiah Dorsey each scored 15 points, leading five Red Elephant scorers in double figures in the third-place game.
Sam Carpenter added 13 points for Gainesville, and Jay Gaudlock and Cedric Bryant each chipped in 10.
The Red Elephants only trailed in the early stages of the first quarter, then jumped ahead for good. They led 37-24 at halftime and expanded their lead to 19 entering the fourth.
Jordan Pulliam led Chestatee with 19 points, followed by Hunter Creamer’s 18. The War Eagles finish fourth in the tournament, improving on an eight-place outing in 2012.
WEST HALL BOYS 67, LAKEVIEW ACADEMY 59: Hunter Atkinson scored 30 points and Tyquan Statham added 15 as the Spartans closed out the tournament with a fifth-place finish.
Much like its second-round win over North Hall on Saturday, West Hall secured the win with a strong fourth quarter. Lakeview tied the game at 47-47 with 6:50 left to play, but the Spartans outscored the Lions 20-12 the rest of the way.
Tae Turner led Lakeview with 19 points. Tre Gober added contributed 14 for the Lions, who finish sixth overall.
NORTH HALL BOYS 55, FLOWERY BRANCH 51: Carson Heinen scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half as the Trojans edged the Falcons for seventh place.
Lee Shelton hit five 3-pointers for 15 points, and Brock Wingo added another three points from the arc for 13.
North Hall scored on 11 from long range, six in the first quarter.
Cody Dewing paced Flowery Branch with 14. Chris Garcia scored 12 for the Falcons and Hunter Konuszewski added 10.