BOGART — It took a little while, but by halftime, Lakeview Academy’s game against Towns County had begun to take the form of previous Lions-Indians match-ups.
The Lions were somewhat sloppy in the game’s opening minutes, but took firm control in the second quarter and cruised to a 87-59 win over the Indians on Tuesday in the Region 8-A tournament at Prince Avenue Christian School, qualifying for the Class A state tournament for the fifth straight year.
The Lions, the No. 1 seed from the North subregion, now await the winner of tonight’s game between Commerce (No. 3 North) and Social Circle (No. 2 South).
The semifinal game is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday at Towns County High School.
“Defensively, I thought our intensity was good at times,” said Lions coach Seth Vining, still sporting the orange pants that have been a part of Lakeview’s recent string of 12 wins in the last 13 games.
During that stretch, Lakeview and Towns County met twice with the Lions taking two wins by a total of 98 points.
“Offensively, though, I thought we sometimes had trouble handling their defense,” Vining added.
Early Tuesday, the Indians were able to stay close thanks to the seven turnovers and 10 fouls Lakeview committed in the opening eight minutes.
Towns County was within striking distance for much of the first quarter, while converting 11 of 16 free throws. Lakeview’s Colin King provided a stabilizing force in paint for the Lions, hitting each of his four field goal attempts in the opening quarter, and keeping Towns County at arm’s length. But he left the game with nine points after injuring an ankle early in the second quarter. Vining said King will be evaluated further today and his status for Friday’s game is undetermined at this point.
“He’s got a lot of swelling on it right now,” Vining said. “He’ll definitely take off (today) and hopefully be ready to go this weekend.”
While the Indians were almost able to keep pace with Lakeview in the first quarter, they were barely able to keep up with Lions senior David Pruett in the second.
Pruett torched Towns County for 24 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, leading Lakeview to a 51-25 lead at halftime. He hit five of his six 3-point attempts in the half and was at the forefront of an attacking full-court defense that harassed the Indians into 22 first half turnovers.
“That’s what David does for us,” Vining said. “He’s a very consistent scorer; he’s been our leading scorer for three years, and he’s worked hard on all phases of his game.”
With the game in hand by midway through the third quarter, Lakeview emptied its deep bench and 13 Lions recorded points as the Lakeview bench outscored its Towns County counterparts 32-9.
Nick Saye was the only other Lion in double figures, scoring 10 points, on 3-for-5 shooting and a 4-for-4 night from the free throw line.