By Wil Crews
The AISA Class AAA regional playoffs began this week, with the No. 2 seeded Lee-Scott varsity girls on a first-round bye and the No. 2 seeded varsity boys facing Valiant Cross in a first-round matchup Tuesday night.
The varsity boys entered Tuesday night’s game on a three-game skid that killed off their hopes of finishing as the No. 1 seed in the region.
“This shaped out to be our toughest week of the season playing the No. 2 and No. 3 team (twice) in the state,” said LSA varsity boys Coach William Johnson. “We played better each time out and gave ourselves opportunities to win but were unable to capitalize.”
On Jan. 26, the varsity boys lost an out-of-region matchup against Chambers Academy, 64-51. The Warriors started well, with the score sitting at 15-15 after the first quarter. However, Chambers Academy finished each half strong, outscoring Lee-Scott 41-24 in the second and fourth quarters to stretch their lead. Ultimately, the difference in the game was Lee-Scott’s poor three-point shooting. The Warriors attempted 33 shots from behind the arc, while only sinking eight (24.2%). Meanwhile, the Rebels from Chambers Academy pounded the paint – making 23-of-37 two pointers – and made the Warriors pay for their misses, outrebounding Lee-Scott 36-27.
Joseph Horne led the way for LSA with 13 points and nine rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting. Payne Weissinger chipped in 12 points in just 26 minutes and Carter Blackmon followed with 9 points and a team-high two assists.
The varsity girls, who were also in action against Chambers Academy that night, inched out a nail-biting 37-36 win. Forward Emma Frances Zellner led the way with 16 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and one block.
Next, the varsity boys were back in regional action against Glenwood on Jan. 28. Down 36-28 heading into the final quarter, the Warriors valiantly surged forward with their comeback effort, outscoring the Gators 12-8 in the final quarter, but ultimately came up just short in a 44-40 loss.
Once again the Warriors shot a low percentage (27.8%) from three-point range, leading to Glenwood’s 33-to-21 overall advantage in rebounds. Meanwhile, the Warriors also shot 9-of-16 from the free throw line, leaving valuable points off the scoreboard. The poor shooting would have allowed for Glenwood to open up an even larger lead, but the Warriors were the better team on defense, forcing 20 turnovers from the Gators. The high point on offense for the Warriors was Hutch Sprayberry, scoring 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field while knocking down 3-of-7 three pointers. Horne once again led the boys in rebounding with six, and Weissinger had a team-high three steals in his 31 minutes of action.
“I was pleased with our effort this past week even though we did not win,” Johnson said. “I told our guys due to covid, quarantines and stoppages in play that this year was not about our record but about where we are as February gets here. I like where we are and how we are getting better at the right time of year to make a playoff run.”
The varsity boys played as favorites to win on Tuesday against Valiant Cross but results were not available at press. The varsity girls play their Elite Eight matchup on Feb. 8.