HIAWASSEE — With their chance at the first region title in team history depending on a hard-earned, seven-point halftime advantage, and Jefferson’s high-energy defense making points tough to come by inside, Lakeview was forced to look outside for offensive production.
That was fine by Tyler Ward.
The Lakeview junior kept the Dragons at bay with a third-quarter, deep-ball barrage and helped the Lions secure the Region 8-A championship with a 60-49 win Saturday night at Towns County High School.
The Lions (20-8) will play host to the loser of Region 6-A’s consolation game between Trion and Bremen on Friday in the first round of the state playoffs.
Jefferson (15-13) will travel to take on the winner of the 6-A championship game between Excel Christian and Gordon Lee.
The Dragons made things difficult for Lakeview from the outset, claiming a 10-6 lead after one quarter.
Ward and Lions leading scorer David Pruett, who finished with a game-high 20 points, pulled Lakeview back in front, scoring 12 of the Lions’ 19 second-quarter points and staking their team to a 25-18 halftime advantage.
The Lakeview lead was at five points early in the second half when Ward took over. Repeatedly left with shooting room on the outside, Ward sank all four of his 3-point attempts and scored 12 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
Darius Minor led a balanced Jefferson scoring effort with 13 points, followed by Ronnie Lewis’ 12.