Christen Copeland was already quite familiar with Lakeview Academy’s Region 8-A semifinal opponent.
The senior guard remembered her freshman season when George Walton ousted the Lady Lions in the state semifinals, then getting some payback as a junior, defeating that same foe in the region tournament semifinals en route to last year’s championship.
The sixth-ranked Lady Lions defeated the Bulldogs 63-45 Friday night at the Walters Athletic Center to continue that narrative and punch their ticket to a second-straight Region 8-A Championship appearance.
The Lions will play Prince Avenue Christian, which defeated Tallulah Falls 41-32 Friday. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. tonight at Lakeview Academy.
“It’s the same situation to happen again, but at our home court, and that experience is a great opportunity for us to take advantage of,” Copeland said.
Copeland scored 14 for the Lions behind Hanna Grogan, who led the Lions with a game-high 20 points. Kennedy Payne was the final starter to score in the double digits with 12.
It was a region semifinal game comprised of two physical adversaries refusing to let up.
Both crowds shouting jeering remarks and players colliding as they ran up and down the floor made for a hostile environment from inside Lakeview Academy’s gymnasium.
The Lady Lions had all three starting guards in foul trouble by the third period, and Copeland was tagged with her fourth during the final quarter.
“You just gotta keep your head, no matter the call,” Copeland added. “You can’t change anything, so you just gotta keep your head and play.”
Luckily for Lakeview, it had already solidified a 22-point lead with just over two minutes left in the contest.
The Lady Lions gave up the first basket of the game but used a 15-2 run to build up an 11-point lead and led by 10 by the end of the first period.
Lakeview got most of its output in transition and generated turnovers. Kennedy Payne drained the Lions’ only three-pointer of the contest during that stretch.
“Our press it pretty darn good. We got a lot of easy baskets that way, probably shot a good percentage due to the fact we got steals and layups,” said Lakeview girls coach John Carrick.
LAKEVIEW BOYS 80, TOWNS COUNTY 51: Lakeview senior Josh Randolph and Towns County’s Will De’Vries each eclipsed 1,000 career points, but in the end it was the top-ranked Lions that advanced to their second-straight Region 8-A tournament championship.
The Lions play Athens Christian at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Randolph (18 points) scored six points to reach the milestone with about four minutes left in the opening period on a banked layup, eliciting loud cheers from the home bench and Lakeview faithful. De’Vries scored a layup with six minutes left in the game to draw loud cheers from his bench.
Drew Cottrell (20 points) drained three treys during a 13-0 Lakeview run to create a 27-point advantage, and the Lions went on to lead by 31 on three occasions during the final quarter.
Tre Gober (12 points) and Evan Pitts (11) scored in the double figures as well for Lakeview. Zach Davenport led the Indians with 16 points.