SOCIAL CIRCLE - Lakeview Academy just needed a few more seconds.
After trailing Athens Academy by seven points with a little more than a minute left in the game, the Lions climbed back, and with 2.9 seconds left were within four points. A Tyler Ward 3-pointer cut the deficit to one, but that's when time ran out on the Lions.
Although the officials put .2 seconds back on the clock, it wasn't enough, and Lakeview's bid to repeat as Region 8-A champions came to an end with a 71-70 loss to the Spartans on Friday night during the Region 8-A semifinals in Social Circle.
"I don't wish we had more time, I wish we would have played a little better throughout the whole game," Lakeview coach Seth Vining said.
"If we did that we wouldn't have tried to pull off a miracle win."
The Lions (18-9) needed that miracle after losing the lead to the Spartans (19-8) late in the second quarter.
A 14-5 Lakeview run had the Lions leading by 10 midway though the second quarter, but the Spartans hammered back with a 9-0 run and then a 6-0 run to take the lead at the half.
The late surge by the Spartans overshadowed an outstanding first-half performance by Lakeview senior Haughton Carswell, who scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Carswell finished with 22 points and four steals.
The fast-paced tempo of the first half slowed down in the third quarter, as both team's battled back and forth in search of any type of momentum builder.
Although they tied the game four times in the quarter, the Lions never took the lead, and Athens Academy closed on a 9-2 run to finally gain momentum heading into the final quarter.
"We battled, but we didn't do enough to win," Vining said.
That was in large part due to the Lions' struggles from the field and Athens Academy's ability to get to the free-throw line. In the critical third quarter, the Spartans made 9-of-10 foul shots, and Lakeview made just six of its 18 field goal attempts.
In total, Athens Academy went 18-for-23 from the foul line, while Lakeview shot just six free throws in the entire game.
"I think it comes down to putting the ball in the basket," Vining said. "We didn't and had to fight back because of that."
Two of Lakeview's six free throw attempts came late in the fourth quarter when Athens Academy was called for a technical foul. Carswell stepped to the line and sank 1-of-2 and then made up for the missed opportunity with a circus shot in the lane to put the score at 69-64 with less than a minute to play.
Three Spartans turnovers gave the Lions the opportunity to get close, but that's when time ran out on their bid for a chance to play for a second straight region championship.
"Any time you have an outstanding year and have competed all season for the right to play in the championship game and fail to do so is a little bit of a let down," Vining said.
The Lions will instead play for third place against the loser of the Athens Christian/Commerce game at 5:30 tonight in Social Circle.
Social Circle girls 39, Lakeview Academy 31
Trailing the entire game, the Lady Lions rallied to tie the game at 31 in the fourth quarter but failed to score again in their loss to Social Circle (18-4) on Friday in the semifinals of the Region 8-A tournament in Social Circle.
"We gave a great effort and gave ourselves a chance to win," Lakeview (16-7) coach Buster Brown said.
Leading that effort was junior Megan Rochester, who battled inside with Social Circle's Maritza Heard and Reyanna Williams and still came away as the game's leading scorer with 16 points.
"She was the only one making things happen," Brown said. "We haven't had much scoring from the post for a while and she did well for us."
Especially in the third quarter, when Rochester scored six of the team's 10 points and single handedly got Lakeview within two points.
Rochester's teammates helped her get wide-open looks all night, assisting on five of her six field goals.
Lakeview recorded 10 assists as a team, with the final one coming from Jessie Snow to Brittany Moore that tied the game at 31.
A Jessica Hester 3-pointer just a few seconds later gave the Lady Redskins the lead for good.
Lakeview Academy will play in the third-place game against Athens Christian at 4 p.m. today in Social Circle.