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Lee-Scott Boys basketball eliminated in Final Four

By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

The Lee-Scott Academy Varsity Boys basketball team continued to compete in the AISA Class AAA Basketball Tournament this week, beating Morgan Academy in the Elite Eight 61-44 but falling to Pike Liberal Arts School 53-37 in the Final Four.

The Warriors dominated from the beginning in the game against Morgan Academy on Feb. 9.

“We need to be ourselves and try to do all the little things better than our opponent,” coach William Johnson said previewing the game. “Protecting the paint will be the most important part of the game, so we need to defend and rebound.”

The Warriors heeded their coach’s advice, outperforming Morgan in rebounds 36-33. Lee-Scott continually made life difficult for their opponents, defending the paint with four blocks and defending the perimeter with eight steals — more than their opponent in both categories.

Joseph Horne led the way with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting and six rebounds. Hutch Sprayberry followed closely behind him with 14 points, making 3-of-7 three pointers and pulling down five rebounds. Payne Weissinger (11), Carson Alexander (9), Dylan Hickman (7), Ansh Patel (2), Trey Dickerson (2) and Chris Lyle (1) rounded out the scoring. Weissinger also had team highs in assists (3) and steals (4).

The Warriors had another battle to fight after dispelling their Elite Eight opponents. The prize for winning would be a state championship berth. Lee-Scott returned to the court to face Pike on Feb. 12.

The Warriors started the game hot. A Sprayberry three with just over a minute to go in the first gave them a 17-9 lead. However, Pike quickly diminished the gap with a layup on the next possession, a layup after a Lee-Scott turnover and another layup just before the quarter ended.

To that point, LSA had struggled to get Alexander going with Pike collapsing into the paint on defense to limit easy Lee-Scott baskets. Joseph Horne buried two threes on his way to 10 first-quarter points to keep the Warriors in control.

The second quarter is when things started to go awry for the Warriors. They led 18-17 with 7:20 left — it would be their last lead of the night. A 15-7 run by Pike, sparked by its commitment to defense and rebounding, flipped the game on its head. Just before the half ended, Sprayberry drove the lane — almost recklessly — but coolly passed the ball off to Dickerson for the layup, making it 32-25 in favor of Pike at half.

In the third quarter, Pike’s aggressive and extended defense began to constrict the Lee-Scott offense. Steals and transition points helped Pike extend its lead to 38-30 — their largest of the game to that point — with 2:24 left in the period. Having been outscored 10-5 in the third, Lee-Scott entered the fourth fighting for their season, down 42-30.

It was clear the Warriors were not ready for their season to end; however, they were never able to replicate the success they had in the first quarter. Ultimately, a gulf in height led to a 33-20 rebound margin in favor of Pike, and Lee-Scott’s 22 turnovers — 10 more than Pike — prevented any hopes of a comeback from arising. Outscored 11-7 in the final period, the Lee-Scott Academy Warriors fell short of the win, 53-37.

The loss brings a conclusion to a unique basketball season for the Warriors. In some positive news, senior Carson Alexander was chosen to participate in the AISA All-Star Basketball Game on Friday, Feb. 19.

Through up and down wins and losses, a COVID quarantine and a full week of exclusive area play against a bitter rival, the Warriors persevered and were just one game away from a chance to play for the state title. Congrats on a great year, Lee-Scott Varsity Boys.

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