Lakeview Academy punched its ticket to this year’s Lanierland tournament Tuesday evening, with a 64-51 home win over Flowery Branch in a boys play-in game. The result sets the Lions up to take on defending champion Gainesville in the first round on Dec. 28.
Lakeview struggled in the first and third quarters, but dominated the second and fourth in an effort that Lions coach Tyler Sanders said was encouraging for a team that is starting to gel in its first year with Sanders at the helm.
“I’m proud of them,” he said after the game. “They’re learning. They’re getting better. But we’ve still got a lot we need to fix.”
Declan Weidner scored 19 for the Lions, connecting on four 3-pointers on the night to help power Lakeview to the victory. Tyleek Worth scored 12 to lead the Falcons.
Lakeview Academy struggled to start the game offensively, holding Flowery Branch off the scoreboard for the most part in the first quarter but finding difficulty in putting points up themselves.
Both teams were plagued with a number of first quarter turnovers that made early scoring rare and kept the contest tight eight minutes in. But the Lions heated up in the second frame, connecting on four 3-pointers and going 5 for 5 from the free throw line to gradually build up their lead.
Weidner hit on his third 3 of the game with less than 10 seconds left to play in the half to put Lakeview Academy on top 31-20 going into halftime.
Flowery Branch did not back down out of the break, putting together two separate runs of 6-2 and 7-1 in the third to claw back to within 5 points of the lead by the start of the final frame.
Worth dropped in a quick bucket in the post to start the fourth quarter that made it a one-possession game for the first time since the second quarter, but that was as far as the Falcons would get.
Weidner responded to Worth’s make with an old-fashioned, 3-point play to push the advantage back up to 6, and subsequent layups from Wesley Rigdon and Conley Millwood put things further out of reach. Lakeview Academy held the Falcons to just one made shot over the final 5 minutes of the game to ice the victory and earn their spot in Lanierland.
“Getting to be in Lanierland is obviously big,” Sanders said. “The tournament means a lot for me because I’ve lived here my whole life. 61 years in a row, the same tournament? You don’t want to be at home for that one.”