By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Poor free throw shooting doomed the Westbrook Christian boys basketball team in Saturday’s Class 2A Northeast Regional final, as Lanett took a 61-50 victory and advanced to this week’s Final 48 Tournament in Birmingham.
The Warriors (24-5) connected on only 9-of-22 (41 percent) from the charity stripe.
The field goal shooting percentage (29 percent) also was poor, but Lanett (20-3) didn’t overwhelm in that department at 37 percent.
“(Lanett) is a good defensive team,” Westbrook coach Seth Ford said. “They put a lot of pressure on the wings and contested every shot. But at least they didn’t shoot too well, either.”
The Panthers shot 37 percent from the field but connected on 13-of-20 (65 percent) attempts from the free throw line.
On 3-pointers, Westbrook hit 7-of-26 (27 percent) and Lanett connected on 4-of-13 (31 percent).
For Westbrook, Colin Edwards finished with a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds while adding five blocks.
Kyle Leonard also scored 13 points, while Jerryn Migliore and Austin Lockridge each added six.
Noah Hunt and Chandler Richards each grabbed six rebounds.
Cameron Trammell led Lanett with 13 points, followed by Anquavious Pollard with 11.
The Warriors owned a small 8-4 lead early but the Panthers went on a run to finish with a 16-9 lead at the end of one quarter. As with all of Lanett’s runs, it was spurred by defense and poor free throw shooting.
“We won this with a workmanlike attitude, and that is what I told the guys,” Lanett coach Obadiah Threadgill said. “I told the guys this morning to clock in and not clock out until the game was finished.”
The Panther run continued into the second quarter, but Westbrook got in a nice run to finish down by only a 27-22 margin by halftime. The Warrior run was spurred by good Westbrook shooting and poor shooting by Lanett.
It appeared the Panthers might run away with the game in the third quarter in getting the score up to 37-29, but Westbrook never quit. By the end of the quarter, the score stood at 37-36. Once again good shooting, coupled with poor shooting by Lanett, fueled the Warrior run.
Westbrook took a 41-39 lead at 6:05 of the fourth quarter on a Leonard layup, but the Panthers then turned up the heat on defense and started putting in their shots. A pair of foul shots by Hunt drew the Warriors drew within 47-45 with 3:35 left before Lanett finished the game with a 14-5 run.
“We tried to switch defenses on them and keep them unbalanced,” Ford said. “But they found ways to score and they handled our pressure.”
Lanett put Westbrook out of the playoffs last year in the regional semifinals, and Ford knew that this matchup could easily happen again.
“I scheduled Oxford and got us in a tournament with Pinson Valley, trying to get some experience against similar teams,” Ford said. “It’s impossible to simulate this kind of speed in practice.”
Edwards and Leonard both made the all-tournament team.