While getting ready for the start of region play, the Lakeside High School Panthers were the county’s top dog at the Evans High School Monterrey Christmas Tournament.
In Saturday’s championship game facing Grovetown, the Panthers (9-2) led 44-40 after three quarters and held off the Warriors, 61-58 for the title.
The Panthers had four players in double figures, paced by 18 from Jake Gilbert. B.J. Raymond had 16 points, Sam Powell had 13 and Luke Harmon added 12 on four 3-pointers.
After beating Richmond Academy on Thursday, the Panthers advanced to the finals with a 71-68 overtime win against Josey Friday night.
Trailing by two with seven seconds left in regulation, Powell poked the ball free after Josey inbounded the ball and Trovonte’ Brown turned it into a layup, sending the game to overtime tied at 58.
Tied at 65 with 36 seconds left in the extra period, Powell hit two free throws and Brown hit the last of his four free throws with six seconds left as the Panthers went up 71-65. Josey hit a 3-pointer with just over a second left for the final tally.
In Saturday’s final against Lakeside, the Warriors’ Solomon Gause led all scorers with 28 points while Logan Morris knocked down six 3-pointers en route to a 22-point outing.
The Warriors (7-7) advanced to the finals after battling Evans down to the final buzzer, winning 79-75.
“We’ve never beat Evans so this is huge just for confidence-wise,” said Warriors’ head coach Daniel Jordan.
Gause and Morris were central figures once again. While Gause paced the Warriors throughout the game, finishing with a team-high 21 points, the final 62 seconds belonged to Morris.
Trailing 69-68, Morris banged home two free throws to give the Warriors a 70-69 lead with 1:02 to play. He stole the ball on the Knights’ ensuing possesion and hit a runner to stretch the lead to 72-69 and Kenny Joseph hit two free throws for a 74-69 advantage.
The Knights’ Matlin Marshall hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 74-72 with 22 seconds to play. After two more Morris free throws, Marshall drained another three to get the Knights within 76-75 with eight seconds remaining. Morris missed his second free throw on the ensuing possession, but the ball bounced off the Knights out of bounds and Joseph canned a pair of free throws for the final tally.
“(Logan) Morris pulled through in the clutch when we needed him,” Jordan said.
Joseph and Morris had 14 each and Kamaran Williams chipped in with 11.
The Warrors were able to survive the Knights’ 3-point barrage. Sinking 10 for the game, they got five from Kameron Mason who had a game-high 28 points before fouling out with 22 seconds to play. Marshall had three from downtown, finishing with 15 points and Patrick Lawrence had two 3’s and 10 points.
Knights head coach Kevin Kenny didn’t like his team’s defensive effort as they gave up an early seven-point advantage and a late five-point lead.
“We lost in the first half defensively and then we got in foul trouble and it snowballed fom there,” Kenny said. “Give them credit, they took advantage of our mistakes. You score 75 points you should win a ball game.”
The Knights did take advantage of their trips to the free-throw line, sinking 29-of-41 attempts while the Knights were 11-for-16 from the charity stripe.
The Knights led 25-18 after the first quarter but the Warriors came back to take a 38-37 halftime lead.
The Knights (8-4) finished the tournament in fourth place after falling to Josey, 73-58 on Saturday.