When: Dec. 21-23 (first two rounds at Chestatee High, semifinals and finals at West Hall)
Citing a decision made by former coach Buster Brown, the Lakeview Academy girls basketball team will not be a part of this year’s Lanierland Tournament.
According to Lakeview Academy athletic director Deuce Roark, Brown, who left Lakeview prior to this year to coach at Truett-McConnell College, didn’t like the fact that Lakeview was the only Class A school in the tournament and believed that the Lady Lions participation in Lanierland was not an advantage.
“He said it wasn’t productive for our girls,” Roark said Wednesday. “The schools around Hall County were very gracious to allow us to bring the boys and not the girls.”
Roark stated that Brown had voiced his concerns in previous years, but playing in a tournament of this magnitude was too much to pass up.
“He finally convinced me that it wasn’t productive,” Roark said. “We played in it before, and won some games, and it was our right to be a part of the field since we’re a part of the community.”
Taking Lakeview’s spot in the girls tournament is Jefferson High, which is the first non-Hall County school to play in Lanierland since Forsyth County in 1967. This year’s Lanierland tournament begins Dec. 20 at Chestatee and concludes Dec. 23 at West Hall.
“Lanierland has such great tradition and it’s a great opportunity for our kids to be a part of something special,” said Jefferson coach Jason Gibson, who jumped at the chance to play in Lanierland once he received an e-mail from Chestatee girls coach Web Daniel.
“As soon as I saw the e-mail, I replied immediately,” Gibson said.
Although this is the first time Gibson will be coaching a team in Lanierland, he attended the tournament for almost 10 years while he was a coach at North Georgia College & State University. It was in the stands when he first realized how great it would be to be one of the participants.
“In years past, the atmosphere was great,” Gibson said. “I think it’s the best tournament around for preparing your team for a region tournament.”
New Lakeview girls coach John Carrick believes that as well, and although he tried to get the Lady Lions back in the tournament upon his hiring, the spot was already promised to Jefferson.
“I went to the meeting, even though we weren’t in it, just to express that we want to be in it,” Carrick said.
Like Gibson, Carrick is familiar with Lanierland because of his time as the head coach at Georgia College & State University. Although he never attended any games, he often sent assistants to scout the vast amount of talent in the gym.
“I would have been in the tournament in a heartbeat,” said Carrick, whose team will be playing in another tournament the week of Lanierland.
How long Lakeview’s girls are absent from Lanierland is up to the rest of the schools within the county. According to Ross Davis, coordinator of Lanierland, the Jefferson girls have a two-year commitment to participate in the tournament, and following that, each school within the county will vote on whether or not to let the Lady Lions back in.
“I expect that request for a vote to come,” Davis said.
As much as Carrick and the Lady Lions want back in, Gibson is hoping the Lady Dragons can earn a permanent spot in Lanierland.
“I would love to be continued to be invited,” Gibson said. “Obviously if Lakeview wanted back in, that would be a problem.
“I felt like we were ready when they needed a team, and hopefully we won’t be booted out after one year.”