Bulldogs top Lanett in 2A-Area 6 championship
Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024
LaFayette and Lanett’s rivalry has always meant a little more on the hardwood. The Bulldogs etched their names in the storied history of the rivalry with a 51-38 win over the Panthers in the 2A-Area 6 championship.
The game was a defensive slugfest through two periods, with Lanett holding a 19-18 lead at halftime, but LaFayette seemed to come out with renewed energy in the second half.
The Bulldogs came out hot in the third period as Jayden Thomason opened the period with a three and Cameron Thomas followed with another swish from behind the arc.
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LaFayette outscored the Panthers 16-8 in the third period and built on the lead from there in the final frame, outscoring Lanett 33-19 in the second half.
“The only adjustments we made was a gut check,” LaFayette coach Chase Lewis said. “They’ve got championship pedigree. This is their playground when it comes to the area tournament. This is what they do. They’re a playoff team.”
The win over the Panthers had been a long time coming for Lewis’ program. Over the course of his three seasons with LaFayette, Lanett has been the thorn in his side keeping the team from an area championship.
“It’s pretty cool man,” Lewis said. “I’m happy that we pulled it off in the second half. It was a dog fight in that first half.”
Senior Deaundra Vines, who was named tournament MVP, led the way for the Bulldogs with 12 points. Vines scored 11 of his 12 points in the second half.
“This has been amazing watching Dra develop like this,” Lewis said. “He’s been starting since his sophomore year, making a million mistakes. Every mistake he made I was right there with him. I told him, even from day one, I love every mistake you make because, before you walk out of this building, Everybody is going to remember your name, and he did it.”
The Panthers struggled to find scoring throughout the game. Ronnie Tucker Jr. led the way for Lanett with 10 points. Jeremiah McGilberry followed Tucker with six points.
The three-ball was Lanett’s saving grace in Monday’s matchup against Reeltown, but it was not there tonight. The Panthers connected on one shot from behind the arc in the first half and connected on none of their seven attempts from three in the second half.
The Bulldogs got production from all over the floor on Tuesday. Vaderrian Story added nine points in the matchup. Branaviyun “Bebe” Story dominated in the paint and finished with 12 points.
“Bebe is big for us,” Lewis said. “For us to go as far as we need to go sometimes, we’re going to need Bebe to produce and make it happen. We told him at halftime. He was a little sluggish in the first half, but we talked to him and got him right. He took off in the second half.”
Thomason and Thomas have stepped up this season for the Bulldogs, after not being expected to be in the starting lineup before the season started. The pair made huge plays for LaFayette on defense and finished with nine points apiece.
“That’s the stuff I need from them,” Lewis said. “We know what Dra, Tae and Bebe are going to bring. The others have to step up. Once they stepped up, I knew we were in a good position. I’m proud of them.”
With the win, the Bulldogs will host the loser of Area 12 — Gaston or Fyffe — on Saturday. The Panthers will travel to face the winner of Area 12.
“My mind is on Gaston or Fyffe,” Lewis said. “They’re very good teams. I’ve been watching them a lot here lately. We’re going to have to bring our A-game.”