COMMERCE — With an automatic top-four seed in the upcoming Class A Private state playoffs on the line, the Lakeview Academy and Riverside Military boys put on an early playoff preview Saturday night at the Commerce gym.
Oh, and the Region 8-A title just also happened to be up for grabs.
The Lions erased an early deficit, swapped nine lead changes, and then used a wild 7-point possession in the third quarter to grab the final lead and then hang on for a 79-73 victory to capture the region title and the all-important bid.
Riverside (20-5) came in ranked fourth in Class A Private power rankings and should still be able to garner a top-eight seed that carries a first-round bye. The Lions (20-8) came in ninth, however, in the power rankings, so a further drop in the rankings was imminent with a loss.
“It was huge for us because it didn’t look like we were going to get (a first-round) bye if we lost,” Lakeview coach Todd Cottrell said. “Now we get the bye and another round if we win that at home. Huge.”
Riverside opened the game with a 10-4 blitz in the first two minutes, capped by a Shad Dabney steal and layup. But moments later leading scorer Khalid Duke left the game with what looked like a broken finger. Lakeview took advantage exploding for a 10-0 run capped by a Blake McIntyre 3-pointer.
From there the teams traded eight lead changes that culminated with an Eagles’ 40-37 halftime lead as Isaac Teasley scored the final six points of the half for Riverside.
The Eagles defense helped turn the tide in a 22-point second quarter forcing 7 Lakeview turnovers and turning those into eight points.
But it was a 34-second sequence that changed the game for both teams early in the third quarter. After a pair of Orlando Stevens free throws gave Riverside a 42-39 lead, McIntyre had a breakaway layup and was intentionally fouled by Dabney. The shot fell through, he knocked two free throws, then he drained a 3-pointer for a 7-point possession. After an Eagles missed shot on their next possession Adam Cottrell hit a jumper for a quick 9-0 run and a 48-42 lead.
Lakeview never trailed again. The Eagles got within three points on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter but each time the Lions answered with a run. Lakeview led by as many as 11, 73-62, in the final two minutes.
Riverside coach Marvin Latham said it just wasn’t their night as the Eagles tried to capture their first region title in a decade.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well and we didn’t play defense the way you have to against a team as good as Lakeview,” Latham said. “It was a great tournament atmosphere and we’ll just use this as a learning tool as we get ready for the state playoffs.”
Despite the early injury, Duke finished with 27 points and 8 rebounds to lead Riverside. Dabney had 19 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals, Teasley added 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Stevens finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds for the Eagles.
Cottrell, a senior, paced Lakeview with a game-high 31 points. Fellow senior McIntyre finished with 22 points and 10 assists, and Arturo Varela had 10 points for the Lions. Senior KJ Millwood pulled down 10 rebounds as well.
However, Holden Cooper was a key factor. He did not play in the two teams’ regular season meeting, a 75-66 Riverside win. Cooper finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds Saturday night.
“Having Holden back was big for us,” Cottrell said. “He does a lot of things for us and that was an element we didn’t have in the first game. But we also have tremendous senior leadership and that showed in the second half.”
Both teams will now await the final Class A Private seedings next week once any appeals are heard and ruled on Tuesday.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 64,
PRINCE AVENUE 46
The Lady Lions assured themselves of at least two home games in the Class A Private state playoffs with a big win over the Lady Wolverines Saturday to capture the Region 8-A title.
Sadie Thrailkill had one of her best games of the season pouring in 23 points to go with 6 rebounds and 3 steals as Lakeview (24-4) also forced 18 Prince Avenue turnovers for the game.
Lakeview coach John Carrick said the win was bigger than just a region title, however.
“You get an automatic top-four seed which gives you the two home playoff games. That is huge for us,” Carrick said. “The kids’ goal was to win the region so that always feels good. But now we have a chance to put ourselves in a position to do something in the playoffs.”
Lakeview jumped on the Lady Wolverines quickly using its aggressive trapping defense.
The Lady Lions forced 8 turnovers in the opening five minutes turning those into 13 points and a 24-8 lead. Jackie Allen was the main catalyst with three steals and dishing out three assists, mostly to Thrailkill, who had 9 first quarter points. Eliza Snyder drained a pair of first quarter 3-pointers as well.
However, the up-tempo pressure also saw Lakeview get into foul trouble. And with that mounting Carrick was forced to turn to his second unit for most of the rest of the half and Prince Avenue took advantage. The Lady Wolverines pulled within 24-11 by the end of the first and opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run to climb within 24-17. A Joelle Snyder free throw gave Lakeview a 27-17 lead but Prince Avenue trimmed the lead to 29-21 by halftime behind 10 points from Janie Henderson.
“We could have kept them in but then if they got in any more trouble that would have caused problems in the second half. I thought (our second unit) did a great job of keeping us with the lead.”
With the starters back, Lakeview used an 8-2 run in a 52-second span early in the third quarter to take control with a 44-29 lead, capped by a three-point play from Eliza Snyder. The Lady Wolverines never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Elize Snyder finished with 18 points and 5 assists and Joelle Snyder added 8 points and Allen 6 points, 6 steals, and 3 assists
“Us not fouling as much in the second half was the key,” Carrick said. “I thought we did a better job of just playing our game. Jackie really saved there and played a great all-around game.”