On a night when Drew Cottrell joined graduate Josh Randolph in eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his career, both Lakeview Academy basketball teams withstood the late pursuits of Athens Academy to win their Region 8-A openers Tuesday night in Gainesville.
Lions boys coach Todd Cottrell saw some staple pieces and new faces pick up steam in multiple phases to help Lakeview Academy boys fend off the Spartans, 72-61, in the nightcap.
“Occasionally, I thought our effort and energy was pretty good for the most part,” Cottrell said on the win. “Of course we had our lulls, but that’s early-season stuff.”
Junior Adam Cottrell recorded team highs in multiple categories as he racked up 19 points — including five 3s — to go along with his four steals. Newcomer Arturo Varela was followed with 14 points and hauled in eight rebounds, a pair of those proving crucial in the closing minutes to help the Lions win their region opener for the seventh-consecutive year.
Jack Blackburn dished a team-high seven assists while Drew Cottrell added to his career total with 14 points, three boards and a pair of steals for Lakeview Academy.
Lakeview Academy (2-3, 1-0 Region 8-A) led by as much as 22 in the fourth quarter, though its double-digit lead maintained through three quarters began to dwindle in the closing minutes. Athens Academy (1-3, 0-1) capitalized on the Lions’ streaky shooting and forced a number of turnovers late to shrink an 18-point deficit down to seven with just over two minutes to play. Larry Jang scored 10 of his team-high 15 points, including back-to-back 3s during a 10-0 Spartans run in the final quarter to make it 63-56. Lakeview Academy’s rowdy student section cranked up the volume seconds later, as Partin converted a 3-point play, and the Lions were a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe to pull away.
“It’s good to play in a close game … and it got close pretty fast, which was really good for us,” the coach said. “But we had a pair of careless turnovers to allow them to keep a run. We gotta clean that up. Our execution wasn’t where it needed to be offensively in the last two or three minutes. My hope is that we’ll get that corrected.”
The Lions’ coach, who also hinted at last weekend’s winter storm that caused minor setbacks for many area teams, applauded the adjustments and resiliency of his team. His hope those flaws will be corrected before tournament time.
Missed rotations and miscues on defense promoted a slow start by Lakeview Academy in the early going of the opening period. A string of runs and big production from Adam Cottrell on the perimeter helped it build a 40-22 halftime lead.
Athens Academy’s Connor Hatch (12 points) gave the Spartans their only leads of the contest by racking up his first seven points to start the opening period before Adam Cottrell and Jack Blackburn took aim from the perimeter. Back-to-back 3s from Cottrell and Blackburn (nine points) sparked an extended scoring flurry by the Lions.
Lakeview Academy went on to score 15 of the next 17 points as Cottrell nailed his second and third attempts from outside the arc to stretch it to 23-10 before the end of the opening period.
Cottrell maintained his strong 3-pointer shooting, nailing two more treys as the Lions widened the gap in the second quarter. Lakeview’s lead ballooned to 22 during a 6-2 run just before the break.
“(Adam) has really-really improved from last year to this year,” coach Cottrell said. “He’s put a lot of work in and you can tell his confidence level is pretty high. And you know, I’m pretty proud of them all.”
The Lions continue in their region slate when they host Commerce Friday night. Tipoff for the boys game will be at 7:30 p.m. at Walters Athletic Center.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 61, ATHENS ACADEMY 51: Mattie Towles racked up 16 points and three additional players scored in the double digits as the Lady Lions withstood a fourth-quarter push by the Spartans.
Also for the Lady Lions, Maddie Blackburn added 13 points behind Towles, followed by Tori Taylor and Jackie Allen with 11 points apiece.
Lakeview Academy (2-3, 1-0 Region 8-A) led 49-33 going into the final period before the Spartans began their final pursuit. Athens Academy’s Gabby Mastandrea (17 points) drilled a 3-pointer and added a layup off a steal to make it a seven-point game with under two minutes left.
Jackie Allen (11 points) Towles and Sadie Thrailkill (six points) answered for Lakeview Academy in the form of layups to keep Athens Academy beyond reach. The Lions were 8 of 12 from the charity stripe in the final quarter.