The 10 seniors in the section have talked about playing for a state championship since they were sophomores and long before that.
The Lions will get that chance later this week.
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The ranked third section shot 64% from the field overall and blasted perennial title contender Lanett 81-58 in the Class 2A semifinals at Legacy Arena on Monday afternoon.
“This group has been talking about this moment for a long time,” said section coach Derek Wynn. “When I got the job in ninth grade, that very moment was discussed. My superintendent said to me, ‘You understand that these guys think they’re going to the last four, don’t you?’ They take it all in stride. They know what they can do. I know what they can do.
They did it to perfection on Monday.
The Section (27-9) had 32 of 50 shots from the field overall, compared to just 24 of 70 for Lanett (19-4). The Lions were 6 of 13 from 3-point range, shooting far fewer shots from deep than they normally would.
“Our guys are shooting well,” Wynn said. “Tonight we talked about taking it to the cup and not settling for 3, especially on this stage with these lights. We didn’t want to go 0 for 10 and suddenly be down 10. We only shot 13 3s tonight. We would normally film every part of 30, but we wanted to slow it down.
The Section took the lead for good with an 18-5 run to end the first quarter. The Lions led 22-13 after one and cut that cushion to 33-17 on Dominik Blair’s 3 midway through the second. However, the Panthers finished with 11 unanswered points – including six by Markavious Atkinson – reducing the deficit to just 35-28 at halftime.
“The section got a bit breathless, and our boys took it to another level just before halftime,” said Lanett coach Trentavious McCants. “I told them to keep fighting. The section made some bad moves and we regained some confidence. That’s how we did this race.
However, the race ended there.
The section scored the first seven points of the second half and 10 of the first 12 overall. The Lions led 43-30 after Blair’s free throw and were never seriously threatened again. The lead was 56-38 going into the fourth.
Game Star: Lots of choices in a balanced section effort, but give it to Jacob Cooper. He scored 16 points, took 11 rebounds and had 4 assists and two blocks.
Stat Sheet: Section – Alex Guinn had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Logan Patterson had 20 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists. Blair finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Lanette – Atkinson led the way with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Elijah Whitfield had 11 points, 4 assists and 4 steals and Alanteo Cheeks had 10 points and 8 rebounds. Clemson football signing Caden Story finished with 8 points.
By the numbers: Lanett was 5 of 24 from 3-point range and 5 of 7 from the free throw line. The Panthers won the rebound battle 36-33. The section was 11 of 19 from the free throw line.
Did you know? The section will look for its first national men’s basketball title since 2003 on Thursday. The Lions’ only other title came in 1969.
Coach language: “It’s another game that no one thought we would win. I’m super proud of these guys. They played their guts. It’s always fun once they’re riding to watch them work. We faced adversity at the start of the half, but we reacted well. – Wyn.
They said it:
“It’s unbelievable. We always doubted ourselves, but we knew that if we kept working it would pay off. – Paterson.
“They (Lanett players) were all on Facebook saying they were already in the championship game and how they would outrun us. It was a great source of motivation. –Cooper.
“We had a slump at the end of the first half, but we are experienced and we stayed the course. We knew the second half was long. We had to keep punching in the mouth. – Patterson on Lanett’s run in the first half.
“The section is a great team. They played basketball tonight. Hats off to them. My guys fought. We had the short end of the stick tonight, but it happens. Last year, I told you we’d be back. I tell you now that we will be back next year. – McCant.
“Every time the ball came in, it seemed like the rim was getting bigger and bigger for them. We knew they could shoot the 3 and go to the basket. We wanted to wear them down and run them out of steam, but they were also in good shape. state.–McCant.
” It was great. We came in the bottom four for the three years I was here. We failed, but I enjoyed playing with these guys. They are my brothers. I would turn everything back if I could. – Atkinson.
Next : The Section will play Mars Hill Bible at 10:45 a.m. Friday in the championship game.