By Marco Clark, exclusive to the Times
The Lakeview Gators came short against former Lakeview standout and now head coach of the Green Oaks Giants, Corey Deans. That’s right, Deans was a standout point guard on the Lakeview state championship teams under the late Lakeview coach Mac Braxton. “It was a bittersweet moment having to face a school I loved and played for. Lakeview played a tremendous part in making me who I am today.
Coach Mac Braxton and the Gators helped lay the foundation for me pursuing my dream of coaching young men in the game of basketball,” Deans said. Picking up action in the first half, both teams seemed to struggle early missing three in their first possessions until the Giants scored the first points of the game on a fast break lay-up. The next possession for the Gators had the same results. The first three attempted shots yielded no points. Coach Brian Williams called a timeout after the Giants lost the ball out of bounds.
The Gators converted on a Christopher Small jumper from the free throw line. The Giants ended the quarter with a one-point lead, 10-9. The second quarter was more of the same. Both coaches used a full-court press early with the hope of forcing either a turnover or bad shot. However, both teams were able to break the press and scored points easily off fast break plays. The Gators took a 27-25 point lead at halftime.
The Gators started the second half on fire. Ty Washington went three for three on his first shots of the third. The early lead the Gators established allowed Coach Williams to make substitutions with his second and third string players. These players came in and presented a strong defensive presence which continued the stranglehold on Green Oaks offense while allowing the Gators to extend their lead by 10 points by the end of the third. The start of the fourth was much different. The Giants were the aggressors scoring six unanswered points. With the Giants making a strong push to tie the game and eventually take the lead, Coach Williams decided to go with a smaller line up of shooters. This move worked well for the Gators allowing them to hold off the Giants for a short period of time.
Going into the last four minutes of the game, Coach Deans called a timeout to regroup his players. He encouraged the Giants to keep up the strong defensive presence while looking for a high percentage shot on offense and that is what they did. The Giants had two key steals on defense that converted into points. Those four points were key to their late run that gave the win at the end of a emotional game.
Coach Williams said this was a highly emotional game that both teams wanted to win badly. “The Giants and Coach Deans outlasted us at the end. I can not be disappointed in our team play tonight. They left it all out on the court but came up just short of the win. We will learn and build on this game for the rest of the season.” The Green Oaks Giants claimed victory in the 61-60 nail biter.
Leading scorers for Lakeview were Ty Washington with 21 points and Zarious Lewis with 13.