In a girls/boys playoff hoops doubleheader, the Lakeview Academy Lions swept the George Walton Bulldogs and the Hebron Christian Lions respectively Friday night at the Lakeview Academy gym.
The boys defeated Hebron Christian for the fourth consecutive time this season in an intense and thrilling game, 82-76, in overtime in a matchup of Region 8-A rivals. The girls preceded this with a 60-31 victory over George Walton earlier in the afternoon.
The boys are off to their best start in program history at 25-4 and are riding an 11-game win streak into next week’s matchup against the winner of the King’s Ridge Christian/Whitefield Academy game next Friday at 4:45 p.m. at Kennesaw State University. Lakeview almost didn’t make it there as Hebron Christian gave them their best game of the season. However, the Lions were carried by juniors Tre Gober, Carter Reeves (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Josh Randolph (13 and 10).
Gober scored 30 points, including 16 in the second half and five in OT in a nip-and-tuck game in which neither team led by more than 10 (Lakeview on two separate occasions; 19-9 at the end of the first quarter and 60-50 late in the fourth). Hebron Christian (20-9) was able to come back from that fourth quarter deficit on the shoulders of Kobe Wharton, who scored 31 points, including 24 second-half points, and eight in the final two minutes. Wharton and Gober put on a shooting clinic, trading baskets for most of the second half.
Hebron’s Luke Crawford kept the Lions in the game in the first half, scoring 14 of his 21 and 11 in a row to start the second quarter to get them back in the game. The big shot for the senior however, came late in the fourth as he hit a huge three pointer to tie the game at 66 with 7.5 seconds remaining.
The game went into OT on a Wharton block of Gober as time expired. Gober, Reeves and Randolph combined for 14 of Lakeview’s 16 points in the final session. The Lions pulled away late on an “and-1” by Reeves via a baseline layup, a free throw by Gober and a steal and layup by Randolph on consecutive possessions that gave them a 78-72 lead in which they would not relinquish.
The game started out in Lakeview’s favor as they led 19-9 after the first quarter behind a stout defensive effort and outstanding offensive rebounding, gathering eight in the first stanza and 14 for the game as they hit the boards hard for 44 total. The game was close throughout after the first as Lakeview led 30-29 at the half and 44-43 at the end of the third.
“I’m really proud of our guys. They played exceptional when they had to against a team they’ve played four times and they were outstanding tonight,” said Lakeview head coach Todd Cottrell. “We shot really well. We would get a lead but just couldn’t extend it. We couldn’t stop them (speaking of Wharton and Crawford). For us we’ve had a different guy step up pretty much every night and tonight Josh was fantastic early and Tre made big shots all night. Carter Reeves had some really big rebounds and Daniel (Fadool) had an outstanding floor game (10 assists).”
Cottrell said his team felt excited, but that the moment hadn’t sunk in yet.
“I really liked our approach the past couple of days,” said Cottrell. “We hit shots and got stops when we had to, and Josh was outstanding defensively coming down the stretch and Tre made some great plays for us. It’s been that kind of year for us. We’re a team and that’s what they’ve prided themselves on all year. We had good energy. We got a couple of stops early and got a few baskets in transition. We didn’t shoot exceptionally well early but we got multiple looks which really helped. High school kids, first time in this position and I’m really proud of them.”
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 60, GEORGE WALTON 31: The Lady Lions (23-6) overcame a tough first half in which they led only 23-16 with three minutes remaining before halftime.
Both teams looked a little shaky early on, especially offensively. Lakeview took the lead behind a press in which they had hands in the passing lane, tipping passes out of bounds and creating turnovers on almost every George Walton possession early on until the Bulldogs began pushing the ball, leading to open shots that they unfortunately missed.
Hanna Grogan had her usual stellar effort with 17 points and 7 rebounds, with Christen Copeland adding 8 and 4, respectively. Emma House also added eight points off the bench.
Lakeview had a late rally as the team outscored the Bulldogs 7-3 for a 30-19 halftime lead and really let the hounds out defensively, outscoring George Walton 16-6 in the third for a 46-25 lead.
The Bulldogs didn’t score a point in the third until hitting a free throw at the 2:42 mark. They hit their first field goal at the two minute mark of the third quarter. The Lions kept the pedal to the metal in the fourth, outscoring a tired Bulldog bunch 14-6 for the 60-31 final score.
“My personal opinion? I think they just got tired,” said Lions coach John Carrick. “We run a lot. I think we made several steals for easy baskets, got points in transition. To me it was just a total effort by everybody coming up and being in shape and not being fatigued.”
Carrick called Grogan a “stud” that George Walton keyed in on early.
“We’re not just about (Grogan),” said Carrick. “Hanna is our stud and they were taking her away. They were in her shirt, holding her jersey and doing everything they could to stop the ball from getting to her but I bet she still had close to 20 points, but this was a total team effort.”
Next up for the Lady Lions is a matchup 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Kennesaw State University against the winner of the Southwest Atlanta Christian/ Stratford Academy.