Gators face tough battle against Many

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Dillon Pikes hits the game sealing free throw.

Lakeview 54/Many 50.

After losing four games in a row, the Lakeview Gators are slowly falling down the power rankings. They needed to figure out a way to get their motor running again, and with it being the middle of district season, it was going to be tough to do so. They had a tough battle on their hands Tuesday, Feb. 2, when they matched up against the Many Tigers for the second time this year. Coming into the game, Many was one of the top teams in the state. At 11-0, they were the 2nd ranked team in 2A, making them the highest ranked opponent that Brian Williams and his Gators have faced this season. A few weeks ago when these two teams faced off, Many came out on top by double digits, and on Lakeview’s last possession, all the Tigers slapped the floor to appear as Alphas of the game. Well, that did nothing but work against them, because things were a little different when the rematch was played in the Swamp.

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The game started off with Andre Sowell jumping up to crash the offensive board, and putting it back up for the first two of the game. Many would come down the court and find an open made for a three to counter. Sowell was open in the corner on the next possession and just like that we had a game on our hands. Many would get bumped on their next shot and convert the and-1 to regain the lead. The next Gator possession saw Javonte Howard hit a stepback three, something he was able to do all night long. Many made a layup on their next play, but once again Lakeview was able to counter, Javonte Howard was able to cut backdoor for a wide open layup. Howard was rolling in the first quarter, because on the next play he got the ball open on the wing to knock down another three to push the lead to four. Lakeview went on a 7-0 run which was the big factor of the first half. This run came from a Sowell corner three, and back-to-back midrange jumpers from Howard. The rest of the quarter was more back and forth ball. When halftime came, Lakeview led 31-24 and was led by Javonte Howard who had an insane 19 points in the first half.

Many would completely control the third quarter though, they outscored Lakeview 17-6 in the third, with Lakeview’s only points coming from threes by Javonte Howard and C.J Jones. Many led by four as the game came into the fourth quarter. The final quarter opened up Lakeview in control. Howard hit his 5th three of the night to start it off, followed by a drive in the lane by Dillon Pikes who pushed to make the tough layup. Lonzo driver got his only bucket of the night after he took it into the paint for another tough make. Sowell would get fouled and make one of his two free throws to make it a two possession game. Many wouldn’t back down though.

They were fouled on their next two possessions, make three of their four free throws and once again it was a one point game. Mike Shields made his only field goal of the night as he drive inside and got a tough layup to fall. Many got in the paint on their next possession and got a layup. Pikes would be fouled on the next play, but only be able to convert 1 free throw, and with that Many would counter and tie the game up at 48 with 1:44 remaining. Coach Brian called a timeout and got his team to draw up the perfect play. Dillon Pikes got the ball and drove down the right side of the line, got up, got fouled and was still able to make the shot. With a conversion of a free throw, Lakeview led by three with 1:24 remaining.

Many wasn’t able to recover, and Lakeview walked away as the winners 54-50.

Not only did Lakeview hand Many their first loss of the year, they also ended the Gator losing streak. With this one win, Lakeview shot up five spots in the Power rankings, and just like that Lakeview is back in the top eight. The Gators continue district on Tuesday, Feb. 9 when they play a home rematch against the Winnfield Tigers. Lakeview will look to keep this momentum going to finish off the year as they face the #6 team in 2A. Make sure you come out and support your Gators.

In weekend print edition Feb. 6-7, 2021