Athens Christian answered every Lakeview challenge and captured the Region 8-A tournament title with a 73-65 win over the host Lions on Saturday in front of a raucous crowd.
The Eagles trailed only once, 8-6 early in the first quarter, and got a momentum-shifting dunk from Will Jackson in the third quarter en route to winning their third region title in the last four seasons.
With the win, Athens Christian (26-2) earns a home game in the first round of the state tournament against the No. 3 seed from Region 7.
Lakeview (23-5) will face the No. 2 seed out of Region 7 at a site to be determined by a coin flip. It's the Lions' eighth straight appearance in the state tournament.
The game was played at an electric pace, with both teams relentlessly pushing the ball up the floor. Every time Lakeview ran off a few baskets, Athens Christian had a response.
Down seven at half, Lakeview got a spark off the bench from Trevor Price, who scored back-to-back buckets to cut the Athens Christian's lead to 42-41 with 4:13 to play in the third.
Jackson, who led all scorers with 22 points, responded with a one-handed dunk that ignited a 14-6 run to close the quarter.
"I knew we needed a big play, something to change the momentum so I just took flight, so to speak," Jackson said.
Athens Christian's big man Zach Lillie finished with 10 points and was a dominating force in the paint, blocking shots and pulling down rebounds over the smaller Lions.
Lillie's layup with a minute to play ended one last Lakeview challenge.
"It just felt like we kept battling back, but missed opportunities to get over the hump," said Lakeview coach Seth Vining, whose team has matched the school record for wins at 23, but couldn't take advantage of 23 Athens Christian turnovers.
Vining said he will talk with officials from his first-round opponent and decide on a time and location for the coin flip that will decide where the game will be played.
Lakeview was led by Austin Pearson's 19 points, but the senior sharpshooter hit just 2 of 12 3-pointers.
The Lions made 4 of 22 3s. Austin Montgomery added 14 and Price finished with 11 for Lakeview. Demetrius McWhorter had 16, and Zack Resop 14 for Athens Christian.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 34, ATHENS ACADEMY 29: Kaylee McClendon's 12 points led a balanced Lakeview attack as the Lady Lions held off Athens Academy in the Region 8-A consolation game.
McClendon got off to a hot start, scoring eight points in the first quarter and helping the Lady Lions (18-10) to a four-point lead.
They maintained the lead throughout and are headed back to the state tournament one year after winning just three games and for the first time since 2009.
Taylor Handte added 12 for Lakeview, including a 4-for-4 performance from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Mona Abraham had four of her six points in the fourth quarter.
Caroline Colby led Athens Academy (13-13) with a game-high 14. Carly Settles (9) and Caroline Sanders (6) were the only other Lady Spartans to score.