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ROAD TO STATE: The Lanett boys basketball team won thee area tournament championship on Friday. night after a 74-54 win over Wadley. The Panthers return to host round one of the state playoffs next Tuesday night. Photo Submitted

Lanett boys win area tournament championship in 74-54 win over Wadley

LANETT — The first step has been taken.

Going into the postseason, Lanett boys head basketball coach Richard Carter said that the team was going to take the elimination brackets one at a time, and on Friday night the Panthers won the area tournament with a convincing 74-54 win over Wadley to move on to the sub-regional round.

“It feels great,” Carter said. “I thought our kids played a really good first half of basketball. Then, we came out in the second half and kind of took things for granted, especially in the third quarter. We thought that they were going to lay down, and we just didn’t force the issue, which we normally do in the third quarter. I have to congratulate them and say ‘job well done’ because they did what we had to do to win the basketball game.”

Lanett senior forward Jayshon Burton led the Panthers with 21 points on the night. 

“He was big in the second half,” Carter said of Burton. “We just fed the crow. He just had his way in the second half, he did what he wanted to do around the basket. He had some key baskets in the first half, but he was really strong in the second half.”

Sophomore Trey Abner and senior Dee Dobbs also finished in double digits with 11 and 10 points each, respectively. Sophomore Seidron Langston, senior Kristian Story, senior Kaylen Dunn, Zameron Boozer, Cameron Boozer and Quae Houston also got on the board for Lanett in the victory.

The team’s defensive effort forced many Wadley turnovers and was key in the Panthers’ fast start in the first half. In addition to the early defensive effort, Lanett’s 46 total rebounds impressed Carter. The third quarter is what concerned the head coach.

“We have to continue to play good defense,” he said. “We had a great rebounding night, but our free throw shooting was atrocious again. It’s something that we dwell on all the time. We have to get better at free throw shooting if we’re going to go any further, we have to exercise that demon.”

Moving forward, Carter said the role players are going to have to step up in order for Lanett to repeat for a fourth consecutive state championship.

“A lot of people don’t realize that while a lot of these young men were brought up at the end of the season last year into the state tournament, in reality, they’ve never played together as a team,” he said. “We had to develop team chemistry, and now that team chemistry is seemingly coming together. They realize that it’s a five-game season. Our record is 2-0. Whoever we face on Tuesday will be 1-1. We have to keep moving on.”

The Panthers are hosting the loser of Westminster-Cornerstone on Tuesday night in the sub-regional round.