Region 8-A tournament
Saturday at Lakeview Academy
Girls consolation final: Lakeview Academy vs. Athens Academy, 4 p.m.
Boys consolation final: Commerce vs. Hebron Christian, 5:30 p.m.
Girls final: Towns County vs. George Walton Academy, 7 p.m.
Boys final: Lakeview Academy vs. Athens Christian, 8:30 p.m.
Austin Pearson is primed for the rematch.
The Lakeview Academy senior led the Region 8-A North’s No. 1 seed in a rout over Hebron Christian 72-56 in the region tournament semifinals Friday at Lakeview.
Pearson led all scorers with 17 points, scoring from the paint, the free throw line and behind the arc.
Lakeview’s final hurdle to a first region championship since 2008 watched it all unfold from the stands, one of the few teams to have solved Lakeview this season.
The South subregion’s top-seeded, Athens Christian (25-2), will play Lakeview (23-4) at 8:30 p.m. tonight in Gainesville for the coveted No. 1 seed to the playoffs.
Pearson, who was in eight grade when Lakeview last won a region title, is ready.
“We just have to make some plays, score some quick points,” he said. “It’d be a great accomplishment, a great ending to a high school career.”
The Eagles won in Gainesville 80-76 on Jan. 27, Lakeview Academy’s last loss. Pearson, one of the team’s premier scorers, tallied just eight points in that game despite a flurry of shots.
“I’m feeling confident in my shot this time,” Pearson said. “Now we get to seek some revenge on them.”
A win over Athens Christian today would be a school record for wins, a record held by the 1994-1995 team and a record that Lakeview tied Friday.
Not only would a win mean another region championship and a school wins record, it would guarantee a home game to open the state tournament.
“It means a lot, not just a region tournament,” said Lakeview coach Seth Vining.
If Lakeview finishes second the team will play the No. 2 seed from Region 7-A on Saturday and will have to flip to decide who gets the home game.
It’s another reason for Lakeview to throw everything at Athens Christian in the region final, and a reason for the Eagles to respond in kind.
“They’ve got a good club — excellent players, excellent coach,” Vining said. “We’ve already had a great game with them, and I think we’ll have another great game.”
If Lakeview plays today like they played in the first half against Hebron Christian on Friday, even another terrific performance from Eagles’ forward Zach Lillie (28 points in the first meeting) might not be enough to beat Lakeview a second time.
“I thought we came out, set the tempo and made plays on both ends of the floor,” Vining said.
Hebron Christian last led at 4-2. Lakeview’s Matt Askounis (13 points) responded with a pair of 3-pointers to jump-start a 15-0 run which put Lakeview ahead by double digits for the rest of the night.
Lakeview junior Austin Montgomery, the 6-foot-8 power forward who nearly matched the play of Lillie in the first meeting last month with 26 points, added 11 to the win Friday night.
Hebron Christian (12-15) will play Commerce at 5:30 p.m. today in the consolation finals at Lakeview.
Hebron Christian was led by Ryan Thomas and Tyler Skidgel with 12 points each.
GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY GIRLS 57. LAKEVIEW ACADEMY 48: Senior Kelsey Gilbert led all scorers with 25 points for the Lady Lions, who fell to the top team from the South subregion and will play Athens Academy at 4 p.m. today at Lakeview in the Region 8-A third-place game.
The Lady Bulldogs (16-6), who were led by Bre Atkism (17 points), will play Towns County at 7 p.m. today in the region championship game. Brooke Moon added 10 points for George Walton.
The North subregion’s No. 2 seed Lady Lions (17-10) were down by 20 early in the third before making a run behind Gilbert, who scored 11 points during a 13-0 run to get within 47-40 with three minutes remaining in the game.
The Lady Bulldogs followed the run with a 6-0 spurt of their own to put the game out of reach, despite the best efforts of the Lady Lions, who outscored their opponent 21-14 in the final quarter.
Second-year Lakeview Academy coach John Carrick couldn’t find much fault in his team’s play after the loss.
“Our girls played as hard as they could possibly play,” Carrick said. “We just lost to a better, more athletic team.”
Mona Abraham added nine points for the Lady Lions, who have already clinched a spot in the state playoffs a year after winning three games.
ATHENS CHRISTIAN BOYS 52, COMMERCE 30: The North subregion’s No. 2 seeded Tigers got a team-high 12 points from Thomas McMillan, but could not keep pace with the South subregion champion Eagles on Friday at Lakeview Academy in the Region 8-A tournament.
Commerce (15-11), which has been to the state tournament four-straight years, will play South No. 2 Hebron Christian at 5:30 p.m. today at Lakeview Academy in the third-place game.
South No. 1 Athens Christian (25-2), which was led by Zack Resop (12 points) and Adrian London (10 points), advances to play North No. 1 Lakeview Academy at 8:30 p.m. tonight at Lakeview for the region championship.
The Eagles have won 19 consecutive games, including an 80-76 win over the Lions on Jan. 27.
TOWNS COUNTY GIRLS 60, ATHENS ACADEMY 35: The Lady Indians are back in the region championship game after a rout of the South subregion’s No. 2 team Friday at Lakeview Academy.
Towns County (21-6) will play at 7 p.m. tonight against South No. 1 George Walton Academy at Lakeview Academy.
It took a little while for the North subregion’s top-seeded Lady Indians to find their shooting touch, but once they did they couldn’t be stopped, embarking on a 29-4 run spanning parts of the second and third quarters to take a 29-point lead.
Ali Bleckley led Towns County with 14 points, Gabby Arencibia and Stephanie Patton scored 12 and Eryn Cochran added 11 points for the defending Region 8-A champions.
Carolina Colby led South No. 2 Athens Academy (13-12) with 10 points. The Lady Spartans will play Lakeview Academy at 4 p.m. today at Lakeview in the consolation finals.