LaFayette comes back in the second half in regional semifinal

Published 11:07 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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The LaFayette Bulldogs are advancing to the Class 2A Northeast Regional final after downing Section 53-44 at Jacksonville State on Friday. 

LaFayette walked into the locker room staring at a seven-point deficit at the end of the first half. However, the group of seniors and the coaching staff refused to see their season end in the regional semifinal for the second straight season. 

The Bulldogs rallied in the second half and outscored the Lions 33-17 in the second half to punch their ticket to the next round. 

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“I’m just happy we won,” LaFayette coach Chase Lewis said. “It wasn’t that we played bad in the first half. I just think we missed a lot of shots. I think Section just played really good on offense in the first half.” 

Lewis thought that senior Vaderrian “Tae” Story would be the key for the Bulldogs in the matchup. Story answered the bell for the Bulldogs as he finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and three steals. 

“During timeouts and stuff like that, I was just telling him, be you. Be great. Be that guy,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t have a problem with it. The moment is never too big for him.” 

Story scored 12 points in the first half, but he was not without the usual nerves. The Bulldogs have had a lot of expectations riding on this season, and the whole group of athletes wanted to make their coaching staff and city proud. 

“The atmosphere was great,” Story said. “I’m not going to lie I had butterflies. Once I got into a rhythm, the butterflies went away. It was just like practice.” 

Deaundra Vines was his usual self for the Bulldogs. Vines finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Vines came out and brought the energy for the Bulldogs in the second half. 

“I said I didn’t want to go home,” Vines said about his mindset in the second half. “Last year, I went home in the same round, same time, everything, but this time it was different.” 

Jordan Johnson added seven points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs while Branaviyun Story added five points and nine rebounds. 

LaFayette will move on to face Gaston in the 2A Northeast Regional final on Feb. 21. Gaston came back from a halftime deficit against North Sand Mountain on Friday. 

“They’re playing off of a lot of energy and spirit for that school and that community,” Lewis said. “I know we’ve got our work cut out for us… We’ll probably take two hours off and that’s the trip back home. Then, I know they’ll already be on film by the time we get back.”