By Marco Clark, exclusive to the Times
Lakeview traveled south Tuesday to Baton Rouge to face Capitol, returned home then hit the road again Friday to Ville Platte for a 632 mile round trip. Beginning this year, the LHSAA commented the higher seeded team would get the home court advantage. The Gators came out swinging early and often against Ville Platte. Lakeview made great plays on both ends of the court during the opening minutes. The starting five made few mistakes to get out front early.
The Ville Platte Bulldogs would not stay down long. Braden Veazie hit a three to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard. Ty Washington answered with a quick two to put Lakeview back up by four, 7-3. The second quarter was as fast-paced and hard-nosed as the first. Both teams continued with the up-tempo pace but Lakeview defense seemed to be just a bit better than the Bulldogs. Lakeview caused three turnovers, but were unable to capitalize. That came back to haunt them.
The Bulldogs did not slow the play, continuing to push the ball quickly up court. That continued pressure allowed them to end the second quarter, 24-23, in their favor. Lakeview slowed things down in the third by keeping offensive action outside the perimeter. Main ball handler Christopher Small kept the defenders at bay while also finding an open man, namely Zarious Lewis. The Gators had the edge by two going into the fourth, 37-35. The fourth quarter spelled trouble though.
The Bulldogs picked the last quarter to play their best basketball of the evening. Tye’Wuan Byers hit three from beyond the arc. Lakeview’s shots were not falling, presenting a problem Coach Brian Williams could not correct.
Nate Braden broke the spell by hitting back-to-back baskets. As the clock ticked away, the crowd grew anxious, many standing for the last 45 seconds as the score knotted at 68 to send the quarterfinal game into overtime. Small and Lewis each added five to the board to carry the game into double overtime.
The final overtime found the Gators ending their stellar season with an 85-79 loss.