GAINESVILLE — Early in Tuesday’s game at Walters Athletic Center, it looked like Whitefield Academy’s frenzied full-court pressure would simply overwhelm Lakeview Academy.
That’s not exactly what happened.
But eventually the scouting report played out on the court just the way it was written on paper.
Whitefield Academy’s stable of athletes simply ran too fast, jumped too high and stood too tall for Lakeview, as the Wolfpack knocked off the Lions, 83-61, in the second round of the Class A state playoffs.
The loss ends Lakeview’s most successful season. The Lions (21-9) established new team standards this season, earning the program’s first home playoff game and first playoff win.
Whitefield Academy, conversely, is no stranger to basketball in March. The Wolfpack (20-8) are back-to-back state runner-ups and will take on the Hancock Central/Gordon Lee winner in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Georgia Highlands College in Rome.
"We played a good team tonight," Lakeview Academy coach Seth Vining said. "They’ve proven that they’re a good team by who they’ve played and who they’ve beaten, and I’m just glad our guys went toe-to-toe with them and fought till the end, and they can be real proud of the effort they gave."
From the tip, both teams employed aggressive full-court defenses, often forcing the offenses into skittish play and disjointed possessions, evidenced by the game’s turnover total: 62.
By game’s end, the turnover difference was insignificant (Whitefield 30, Lakeview 32), but the Wolfpack dogged Lakeview ball handlers throughout the game and gave the Lions few clean looks at the basket.
"I thought we defended the ball sporadically tonight," Whitefield Academy coach Tyrone Johnson said. "At times it was good, at time it wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. And other times I think coach Vining exposed some things that we didn’t do very well."
Whatever their faults, the Wolfpack was dominant the glass, particularly on the offensive end, where they claimed 18 of their 37 team rebounds.
"It was no secret we were the bigger team," Johnson said. "We knew the Lakeview guys were going to be very scrappy. We’ve seen film on them, and anytime you see coach Vining you know they’re going to scrap, so I was glad we were able to control the rebounds."
After leading 11-2 just over a minute into the game and 22-12 at the end of the first quarter, Whitefield stretched its lead to 15 points by halftime.
The Lions’ pressure defense yielded opportunities for Lakeview to shoot itself back into the game, but the shots, especially in the first half, just weren’t falling. Lakeview was just 8-for-27 from the field in the first half, including 1-of-12 on 3-pointers.
"When we have shot the ball well, particularly from 3-point range, we’ve been a pretty good basketball team that would be hard for anybody to beat," Vining said. "If we were 5-for-12 or 6-for-12 (in the first half), who knows?"
Whitefield, on the backs of Brandon Reed and Cameron Baskerville, wasn’t having that problem. Reed, a 6-foot-3 swingman, and Baskerville, a 6-6 forward, combined to score 17 of the Wolfpack’s 22 first-quarter points and, rising above Lakeview defenders on pull-up jumpers and putbacks, finished the half a combined 8-for-9 from the field.
"I tell you what, for Brandon Reed, that’s a lot of growth," Johnson said. "He’s always been a talented individual, but he had struggled a little bit taking that leadership position. Lately, I’ve seen him growing and maturing, so I’m glad to see him step up and help us get a win."
Reed led all scorers with 26 points, including a 9-for-11 effort from the free throw line, and added seven rebounds and five steals.
Baskerville finished with 21 points (7-for-8 at the line) and 11 rebounds.
Lakeview’s leading scorer David Pruett got hot in the second half, when he scored 19 of his team-high 23 points, and spurred brief third-quarter run that cut the Whitefield lead as low as 13, but that’s as close as the Lions would get.
"It’s been a special year, not only because of what we’ve done in basketball, but because we have such special young men on this team," Vining said. "They play so hard and have such character, it’s just been a joy to coach them, and I’ve been rewarded by their presence for the last three months."