By Wil Crews
The AISA Class AAA State Playoffs began last week, and the No. 2 seed Lee-Scott Academy Varsity Boys advanced to the quarterfinals with a 63-27 first-round victory over Valiant Cross.
Their counterpart, the No. 2 seed Lady Warriors, received a first-round bye and were immediately slotted into the Elite Eight. The Boys, however, had to play – and win – to earn that honor.
Thus, on Feb. 2, senior night, the LSA Varsity Boys hosted Valiant in the round of 16.
“You approach it like any other game,” said Lee-Scott Varsity Boys head coach William Johnson. “[There’s] a little bit more added pressure, obviously, but we’re going to play our style, do what we do and prepare. I like where we are.”
Although his team was the favorite, Johnson was wary of his opponent, who he called an “unknown,” due to the fact that Valiant has only played four games this season.
“They will be athletic, they will try and get up and down on us a little bit, but we’re excited about that though,” Johnson said.
The mystery of their opponent quickly faded as Lee-Scott jumped out to an early double-digit lead on their way to a blowout 63-27 victory against the inexperienced Valiant.
“I told our guys, if we shoot the ball well, rebound the ball well and do all the little things, we’re going to be a tough out.” Johnson said in his pre-game press conference.
The players must have been listening, as Lee-Scott outperformed Valiant in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, steals and turnovers forced. The Warriors jumped out to a 14-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and outscored their opponents in every following period.
Three players led the way for LSA Academy with 11 points apiece: Joseph Horne, Carson Alexander and Dylan Hickman. Alexander shot a scintillating 83.3% from the field while also pulling down a team-high six rebounds; Hickman was a nuisance on defense, finishing with four steals; and Horne’s only missed shot of the game was a free throw. In what was a complete team performance, nine other Warriors finished in the score column. Fischer Wright was the hot man from three-point range, adding 6 points on 2-of-5 shooting.
The Boys played their quarterfinal matchup against the No. 1 seed Morgan Academy at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
“We need to be ourselves and try to do all the little things better than our opponent,” Johnson said. “Protecting the paint will be the most important part of the game, so we need to defend and rebound.”