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LANIERLAND BOYS: Lakeview Academy wins thriller; Gainesville, East Hall and Cherokee Bluff also advance to semifinals
Lakeview Academy faces Chestatee in the first round of the Lanierland on Dec. 28, 2021 at Lakeview Academy. Photo by Natalae LaDouceur


For The Times

Behind a game-high 16 points from Ryan Black, Lakeview Academy rallied for a thrilling 64-63 win against Chestatee in the first round of Lanierland on Tuesday at Lakeview Academy. 

The Lions had a 15-13 lead early in the first quarter, but allowed the War Eagles to jump in front with a 43-32 lead at half. 

Lakeview Academy trailed by double digits for the majority of the third quarter, eventually falling behind by as much as 16 points. 

The Lions took control late in the third with 12 fast-break points to pull the game to within one.

“Our goal was to limit them to 13 points a quarter, and we held them to 20 in the second half,” Lions coach Tyler Sanders said. “The kids played their butts off on defense.”

The Lions took their first lead of the half with 6:42 left to play in the final period, capping off a 20-6 run.

After eight lead changes in the fourth quarter, Lions guard Harrison Cooper dropped a spin-move floater into the bucket with 14 seconds left to cap off the comeback.

“That’s his favorite move, I knew that is what he was going to do,” Black said. “He works on that move all the time, and I trusted him 100%.”

With the win, Lakeview Academy faces Gainesville at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament semifinals at Gainesville High. 

Chestatee faces Flowery Branch in the consolation round at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.  

EAST HALL BOYS 64, NORTH HALL 50: Led by Christian Torres’ 21 points, the Vikings opened Lanierland strong Tuesday at Lakeview Academy. 

In the second quarter, the Vikings maintained a 24-4 scoring edge to set the stage for its victory. 

With the win, East Hall faces Cherokee Bluff at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament semifinals at Gainesville High. 

North Hall faces West Hall in the consolation round at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

CHEROKEE BLUFF BOYS 79, WEST HALL 49: Freshman guard Boston Kersh scored 17 points for the Bears in the first round of Lanierland on Tuesday at Lakeview Academy. 

It was a tale of two halves for the Bears, who held a seven-point lead going into halftime. 

However, the Bears benefitted from a 13-3 run to start the third quarter. 

Cherokee Bluff outscored West Hall 42-19 in the second half.

The Bears’ offense was clicking on all cylinders throughout most of the game. Cherokee Bluff hopes to maintain the momentum going into a tough matchup in the semifinals against East Hall. 

“Man, everybody always ask you in the winners bracket how you’re doing, and I always tell them ‘well did we just win, or did we just lose?”’ Bears coach Josh Travis said, “But yeah, it feel great. You would rather be in the winners bracket than the losers bracket, but now we gotta go play a really good team.”

With the win, Cherokee Bluff faces East Hall at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament semifinals at Gainesville High. 

West Hall faces North Hall in the consolation round at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

GAINESVILLE BOYS 60, FLOWERY BRANCH 36: Ellis Pitts scored a game-high 25 points for the Red Elephants in a 60-36 first-round win at Lakeview Academy. 

“We have been going through a little bit of adversity and guys didn’t understand what it takes to actually win a basketball game at this level.” Gainesville coach Chuck Graham said. “Even to compete, not just win but compete. So tonight, when we got that run, I saw guys getting their confidence, so that was a good thing.”

The game stayed tight in the first half, with Gainesville holding a slim 23-17 lead. 

To start the third quarter, the Red Elephants full-court pressure was too much for the Falcons.

Gainesville forced three 10-second violations in the first two minutes of the half to kick start a 20-3 scoring run. 

Gainesville held a double-digit lead the remainder of the game.

With the win, Gainesville hosts Lakeview Academy at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

Flowery Branch faces Chestatee in the consolation round at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Gainesville High. 

Wednesday’s semifinals

at Gainesville High

East Hall boys vs. Cherokee Bluff, 4:30 p.m.

Lakeview Academy vs. Gainesville, 7:30 p.m.