Quentin Ray drives past an R.C. Hatch defender in Tuesday’s sub-regional playoff game.
The No. 9 ranked LaFayette boys (21-5) wrapped up an impressive regular season on Friday night with a thrilling overtime win against rival Lanett in the Area 8 Tournament championship game. It was the first area title for the Dogs since 2009 and the first under fourth year head coach Obadiah Threadgill.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success over the past four years, we’ve even been to a state final but we haven’t won the area. So to be able to win the area in their (Lanett) gym says a lot about the character of our kids.”
The area win allowed LaFayette to host the sub-regional round of the playoffs on Tuesday. And with the home crowd behind them, the Bulldogs defeated R.C. Hatch to advance to the Central Regional Tournament, which starts Thursday.
To advance to the area title game against Lanett, the Bulldogs topped Reeltown last Tuesday 80-58.
The game against the Panthers presented a little more difficulty.
The excitement was overwhelming in the sold out Lanett gym and the two teams didn’t disappoint.
Lanett scored the first points of the game, but LaFayette would quickly answer. The teams would exchange the lead six times in the first before the Panthers pulled ahead 16-13 going to the second.
Twenty seconds into the second quarter, LaFayette’s Quentin Ray tied the game with a three-pointer and then with 5:27 the Bulldogs regained a lead. They wouldn’t trail again until overtime.
The Dogs pulled ahead by as much as seven points in the quarter, and would lead by four at the half.
Lanett came out in the third and quickly tied the game at 28. The momentum seemed to be shifting, but it was halted thanks to a monster dunk by Barnes to regain the LHS lead.
But moments later, a terrifying moment halted the game. Going up for another dunk, Barnes was fouled hard by two Lanett players. His head hit the floor hard and he appeared to be knocked out. After a 20-plus minute delay, Barnes was loaded on a stretcher and taken out of the gym. But not before he gave a few brief words of encouragement to his teammates and a thumbs-up to the LHS fans.
Once play resumed, the Bulldogs showed renewed enthusiasm and by the time the third ended, had built a nine-point lead.
Jatarvious Whitlow led LaFayette with 17 points in their win over R.C. Hatch Tuesday.
But Lanett was not done, and they took advantage of Barnes’ absence by attacking under the basket. They cut the deficit to three just over a minute into the fourth and with 5:30 to play, trailed 43-42.
Jatarvious Whitlow responded with five straight points to put LaFayette back up by six, but the Panthers continued to work in the lane and pulled to within two points with 1:25 to play.
With 36.4 seconds to play Lanett tied the game at 52 after two free throws. The Bulldogs had one last chance, but couldn’t get off a good shot and the game went to overtime.
The Panthers took their first lead since the second quarter four seconds into overtime, but LaFayette answered with a 7-0 run over the next three minutes and with 30 seconds to play had a 59-54 lead.
Whitlow hit two free throws to ice the game with 4 seconds to play, and even though they sank a last-second three pointer, the Panthers feel to the Bulldogs 62-59.
Whitlow was outstanding, finishing with a game-high 26 points. Ray scored 12 and Quentavious Whitlow had 10.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs hosted Area 7 runner-up R.C. Hatch in the Dog Palace and used a strong fourth quarter and some clutch free throw shooting to earn a 65-55 win.
LaFayette started out slow and trailed by two after the first quarter, but they regained the lead with a 13-2 run in the second. However, Hatch would respond and tie the game at 28 by halftime.
The Dogs trailed for most of the third quarter, but Ray, who had maybe his best game of the season, scored two straight baskets and LHS trailed by just one heading to the fourth.
Ray put the Bulldogs on top just 15 seconds into the fourth and LaFayette would never trail again. They hit 10-of-13 free throws over the final eight minutes to secure the win.
Four Bulldogs reached double digits in the game, led by J. Whitlow’s 17. Ray finished with 14 and Barnes and Kaminski Bledsoe each scored 12.
LaFayette advances to the Central Regional on Thursday. They will face Central-Hayneville at noon at Alabama State University’s Acadome in Montgomery. The Central Regional finals will take place on February 18 at 11 am at the Acadome.