ATHENS — Josh Randolph stepped to the foul line with 1.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter and stared down the net.
He wasn’t thinking about how his Lakeview Academy team needed one free throw to tie, two to win Friday night to secure a spot in Saturday’s Region 8-A title game.
He wasn’t thinking about the pressure of making the game’s biggest shots against Prince Avenue Christian in a hostile gym at Athens Academy.
He was thinking about all of the free throws in practice he had made, which helped him get to this point.
“It was a big opportunity, and I made it,” said Randolph, who also had eight rebounds. “I had faith in all of my team that we would do this.”
Randolph (seven points) nailed both of his free throws with less than two seconds on the clock to hand the Lions a 41-40 victory, which sends Lakeview to the 8-A title game for the first time since 2012.
The Lions will next play Hebron Christian in the 8-A title game, which is expected to start 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Athens Academy.
With the victory, in front of a raucous crowd at the Sinkwich Spartan Center, Lakeview (23-4) tied its single-season record for wins in a season.
“We’ve talked about toughness all year,” said Lakeview coach Todd Cottrell. “This is a very tough team that’s fought through a lot this year.”
The Lions will seek to win its first region tournament title since 2008.
Lakeview has already clinched a spot in the Class A state playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
Tre Gober led all scorers with 17 points, including two treys to help Lakeview to a 27-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Evan Pitts and Daniel Fadool both scored six points apiece. Fadool recorded eight boards.
Sam Todd led the Wolverines (13-10) with 10 points, Duncan Taylor had nine and Noah Campbell finished with six.
Campbell hit a 3-pointer that put Prince Avenue up 34-30 with just over four minutes to play, but Lakeview fought back with buckets from Gober and Carter Reeves to pull close.
With Lakeview down by two, Tre Gober drove for a layup, was fouled and converted his final two free throws with 14 seconds to go.
Prince Avenue picked up a free throw through Campbell, which allowed Lakeview its final possession, down 40-39.
Daniel Fadool tossed in the inbounds from the Prince Avenue baseline with less than five seconds to go, which found Randolph before he was fouled.
“They’re prepared,” said Cottrell. “We try to help them in practice to simulate what it feels like to be in that situation. I saw it in the whole team, that they could do this.”
Randolph wasn’t rattled, and sank his two shots with aplomb. Prince Avenue attempted one final Hail Mary, but the ball was deflected out of bounds, which led to Lakeview earning the emotional victory.
Randolph said the team would use the win as motivation as the Lions prepare to play in Saturday’s title game.
“I’m interested to see how they respond for tomorrow,” said Cottrell. “I’m sure they’ll get up for playing for a title.”
The Lions are ranked No. 3 in the Class A private school boys basketball power ratings.