Wednesday April 17th, 2024 9:12AM

Girls GIAA playoffs: Lakeview, Deerfield rematch for state title set as Lady Lions rout Terrell

By Jeff Hart | Video by Seth Chapman

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The name Deerfield-Windsor has almost become an obsession for the Lakeview Academy girls.

Nearly a year to the day since Deerfield ended Lakeview’s bid for a state title in 2023, the Lady Lions will get a chance at the ultimate revenge.

Two hours after watching Deerfield get past John Milledge Academy, 51-42, in the first GIAA Class 3A semifinals, Lakeview Academy set the stage for the rematch for a state title with a 60-37 win over Terrell Academy on Wednesday at GCSU.

“Ever since we lost to them last year, this has been on our list to make it back and have a chance to play them again,” first-year Lakeview coach Ken Huffman said. “Their name has been on our board ever since that loss, so we’re ready to go.”

Tip-off for the showdown will be at 6:20 p.m. on Friday at Columbus State.

The state title matchup will be the first for the Lady Lions program, who three previous times (2005, 2017 and 2023) had made it into the semifinal round -- all in the GHSA -- only to be denied all three times from a championship game berth.

“If not for a couple of injuries in that game, we feel we could have taken (Deerfield) last year,” said Huffman, who was an assistant for the Lady Lions. “We’re fully loaded right now, playing well, and I think we’re ready for the challenge.”

However, Lakeview (26-1) will need a better start than the one on Wednesday. Terrell (20-6) opened the game with a 7-2 spurt in just two-plus minutes, while the Lady Lions were cold from the field and suffered several defensive breakdowns.

But a timeout by Huffman seemed to calm things down.

“We were just kind of going through the motions at the start. Some of the girls maybe had some nerves. It was the biggest stage some of them had ever been on,” he said. “I told them to settle down. We were having some miscommunications on defense, and I just said if we could fix those, we’d be fine.”

Whatever the adjustments, it was all Lakeview from there. 

Annie Nivens gave them the lead for good, 19-18, on a steal and layup late in the second quarter. That sparked a 13-2 run to close out the half for a 30-20 lead.

A 12-3 spurt to begin the third quarter, fueled by Nivens and Dynesty Putman, gave them a 42-23 lead midway through the third quarter. Emyrie Combs led a second unit with 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half as the Lady Lions and led by as many as 23 at four different times in the fourth quarter.

For Lakeview, Putman finished with 16 points and Nivens had 13.

Liza West led Terrell Academy with 15 points.

With the focus now on Deerfield and trying to win their first-ever state title, Huffman said the key against Deerfield-Windsor is a simple one.

“(Senior guard) Joi Hubbard. She is a dog out on the court,” he said. “She really hurt us last year, so we’re going to have to find a way to slow her down.”

In the other semifinal, Hubbard poured in 25 in the Lady Knights’ win over John Milledge.

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