GAINESVILLE — They came, they saw, they conquered and, in the midst of it all, crowned senior girls basketball player Janelle Francis homecoming queen.
"Homecoming presents a lot of distractions," said Lakeview coach Seth Vining, "and homecoming here is bigger than in any other place I’ve been associated with."
Despite said distractions and thanks to an offensive onslaught from 15 of Lakeview’s 17 roster players, the Lions (8-7, 2-1) beat Region 8-A foe Towns County 76-33 on Friday night in Gainesville.
"It was nice to see a variety of players contribute tonight," said Vining. "We had as many as six guys make 3-pointers tonight, which is really important for us."
Lakeview started the game in full-court, man-to-man and fed off the energy that type of defense lends itself to, going on an 11-1 run at the beginning of the first quarter.
During the run, Nick Saye scored four points and Haughton Carswell hit a 3-pointer form the right wing.
The Indians would score their first basket four minutes into the game on a banked-in free throw by sophomore Will Adkins.
A quick offensive start is most often followed by a slight lull for the team with the hot hand. Lakeview was not impervious to that fact as Towns County (3-10, 3-2) came back to cut the Lions lead to eight on back-to-back layups by Adkins and junior point guard Zeke Gribble.
A momentum shift, and impending tie or lead change, was not to be as, on the Lions subsequent possession, junior Brett Armour found fellow junior Josh Wilkins cutting to the basket for an easy two pointer giving Lakeview another double-digit lead.
For the remainder of the first quarter Lakeview would teeter-totter between a six- or eight-point lead until the offensive flood gates opened with less than a minute to go in the quarter.
Wilkins scored the first of what would be 10 straight in under a minute for the Lions with a free throw. A turnover later, senior shooting guard David Pruett hit a long two-point basket from the corner.
Wilkins and Pruett would match each other 3-pointer for 3-pointer on the Lions next two possessions to blow the game open and give their team a 17-point lead at the end of one quarter.
"We shot the ball well tonight," said Vining. "When we shoot the ball well, a lot of other things happen, too. Shooting’s important for us and if we struggle, we don’t usually generate points any other way that will make up for the poor performance."
Pruett finished the game, a loose term considering he played less than two quarters, with a game-high 12 points while Wilkins finished as one of three Lions with six points. Saye and junior Grayson Ingram also had six in the game.
Lakeview continued it’s hot-shooting ways in the second quarter by hitting for two more unanswered points before Indians sophomore John Bleckley broke the monotony for Towns County by hitting a free throw.
Lakeview’s Pruett answered Bleckley’s free throw with five straight points in 30 seconds including a layup off a Wilkins’ assist, a steal, a rebound and a three-point play to extend Lakeview’s lead to 22 and it’s run to 17-2.
Lakeview went into halftime with a 36-point lead and, despite having cleared the bench two mintues into the third quarter, went on to win by an even more sizable margin.
"All our guys are used to playing, even in tight games," said Vining. "But games like this give them more of an opportunity to play and play well.
No matter what level they are we want them to work to get better every game."
Lakeview returns to action Tuesday when it travels to Jefferson.
Towns County girls 55, Lakeview 33
The Lady Lions tied the game at four points three minutes into the contest on a jumper in the lane by sophomore Megan Rochester. It was the closest they would get in their loss to Class A No. 5-ranked Towns County on Friday night in Gainesville.
Brooke Windle led Lakeview (2-8, 1-2) with 13 points, tying the Lady Indians (15-2, 3-0) point guard Amanda Irwin for game-high honors.
The Lady Lions made a run in the second quarter when they cut Towns County’s lead to six on a layup by Rochester and a 3-pointer by Windle. It took the Lady Indians the better part of a minute to push their lead back to double digits, however, and they just kept rolling, ending the half on a 13-5 run and dominating for the remainder of the game.
Jordan Moss had 12 points for Towns County, Nikki Winn had 11 and Ashley Lamb finished with 10.
The Lady Lions next play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Jefferson.