GAINESVILLE — For the first time in nearly a year, the Towns County girls were seconds away from finding out how the rest of Region 8-A feels.The Lady Indians haven’t dropped a game to a region opponent since last season’s 8-A tournament finals, and Saturday night in Gainesville, they kept the streak alive.
But just barely.
Towns County needed a last-second shot by point guard Nicki Winn to finally put away Lakeview Academy and secure a 48-47 win.
With 7.1 seconds remaining, Winn dribbled into the frontcourt and found just enough room to take a running 15-footer.
The clock expired as the ball fell through.
"A great player made a great play," Lakeview coach Buster Brown said. "I thought Nikki was good last year, and this year she’s even better. Our plan was to trap her and get the ball out of her hands. But she got by us and got an off-balance shot and she made it."
The win wraps up the region’s No. 1 seed for the Lady Indians (19-4, 14-0). Lakeview (14-6, 12-3) can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win in its regular season finale Tuesday at Athens Academy.
Winn’s buzzer beater was the second of the night.
Eight minutes earlier, Lakeview’s Louisa Jacobs drained a running 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter, cutting the Towns County lead to 34-33 and setting off a wild fourth quarter that included four lead changes in the final two minutes.
The Lady Indians opened the fourth with six quick points and held a seven-point lead before Lakeview began to chip away.
Jacobs and Maddie Haymore spurred the Lakeview run, but just short of two minutes left, it was senior Brittany Moore popping a quick 3-pointer off an inbounds play that gave the Lady Lions their first lead (43-42) since a 1-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Jacobs and Haymore led Lakeview with 17 points each. Winn had 17 to lead Towns County.
After falling behind again, Lakeview took its final lead when Haymore missed the back end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity. Megan Rochester grabbed the rebound and kicked out to Jacobs, wide open for a 3-pointer at the top of the key.
With 15 seconds left, Jacobs slapped a Towns County pass into the back court, but Lakeview was unable to come up with possession in the ensuing scrum, setting the stage for Winn’s heroics.
"I couldn’t ask any more of them," Brown said. "We’ve got five girls that play basically every minute, and they did the same thing (Friday night) at Social Circle.
"We were just a loose ball away from winning the game, we just didn’t have enough to go and get it."
Towns County held the lead for most of the game, but Lakeview kept the pressure on, never trailing by more than the 27-19 halftime deficit.
Neither team was able to convert a field goal in the game’s first five minutes, then Haymore and Moore hit back-to-back 3s to answer a pair of Towns County treys and keep the Lady Lions within striking distance.
The Region 8-A tournament begins Feb. 17 at Lakeview Academy.
Lakeview boys 66, Towns County 49
Lakeview shot well early and sped to an 18-0 lead before coasting to a win.
After leading 41-16 at half, the Lions (17-7, 13-2) eased off the gas a bit, while Towns County (5-13, 4-10) found some offensive rhythm. Still, the Indians never got closer than 59-44 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Haughton Carswell led four Lions in double figures with 15 points.
Tyler Ward added 12 for Lakeview, Daniel Olvera scored 11 and Jordan Chastain had 10.
The Lions need a win Tuesday at Athens Academy to assure themselves of the No. 2 seed heading into the 8-A tournament, which opens Feb. 17 at Lakeview.