The Lakeside and Evans basketball teams faced off for the fourth time this season, as the girls and boys squads from each school contested Region 2-AAAA play-in games Monday at the Evans gym.
As the bottom seeds from their subregion this year, the teams had to play two games to decide who would advance to the second round of the region playoffs at Westside Macon High School.
As in the three previous meetings between the rivals this season, the same victors emerged.
The Lakeside girls opened with a 55-44 win over Evans, recording a fourth straight win over the Lady Knights. The Evans boys followed with a 60-43 win over Lakeside to complete a season sweep of the Panthers.
"It's hard to beat any team three times in one season, much less four," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "We came out with a purpose. We wanted to have a winning season and we wanted to go to Macon."
Bill Richey wasn't thrilled about a fourth meeting with Evans, but the first-year Lakeside coach didn't mind picking up another win.
"I was worried about the girls getting up for them again, but they came in and took care of business. They said, `Let's go to Macon,"' Richey said.
The Lady Knights opened a quick 5-0 lead on a 3-point shot from guard Shannon Colbert. Lakeside senior Alexis Holman responded with five straight points to tie the game.
Evans got into foul trouble, and Lakeside took advantage, hitting 10 of 15 free throws to open up a 27-18 lead. The Lady Knights rallied late in the half, cutting the deficit to 27-22 on a fast-break layup by Mary Kate Eckert.
Evans senior Shawnica Hill put on a show in the second half, scoring 19 of her team-high 21 points, including all 11 Lady Knight points in the third quarter. Hill pulled Evans to within two at 35-33 after the third.
Lakeside's balanced scoring put the game away in the final quarter. Holman kept rolling, on the way to 18 points, while Nichole Bennett hit a 3-point shot, and finished with 14 points. Toneisha Baker and Brittney Watts each added 8 points for the Lady Panthers.
The win earned Lakeside (13-8) an 8:30 Wednesday game against Baldwin, the No. 1 seed in Region 2-AAAA. The Bravettes are also the top-ranked team in Class AAAA, meaning Lakeside's trip to Macon may resemble Little Big Horn.
That didn't matter to Richey, who said, "It sure beats the alternative." Translation: At least Lakeside's season wasn't ended by Evans (7-13).
In the nightcap, Evans put relentless pressure on Lakeside, streaking to a 15-5 lead. And it got worse for the Panthers -- Evans senior Daniel Heramb gathered a loose ball, then flashed a no-look pass to Jason Crouse under the basket.
Lakeside coach Norm Cox was calling timeout before Crouse even hit the court following a rousing dunk that made the score 17-5.
At times, intense play hurt the Knights, as Lakeside chipped away by hitting 12 of 17 free throws in the first half. The Panthers closed to 25-20 in the second quarter, but sloppy ball handling killed Lakeside in the second half.
At the end of the third, Lakeside had 27 points and 29 turnovers, as Evans pulled ahead 44-27. The rest was a formality, as the Knights kept getting good looks inside while the Panthers looked for a place to hide.
"We moved the ball really well, and we came out very, very strong defensively," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "Our defense helped us generate some offense."
The loss ended Lakeside's (6-15) season, while the win earned Evans (13-11) a Thursday game against Westside Macon. Kenny isn't worried about playing the No. 1 seeded Seminoles on their home court.
"They are beatable if we go in and play like we're capable," Kenny said. "At tournament time anything can happen."
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