Lions Advance to Regionals
By Will Johnson
LUFKIN – It was a District 20-2A showdown in the Regional Quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 26 as the Lovelady Lions and Slocum Mustangs traveled to Angelina College in Lufkin to duke it out for the right to advance to the Regional Semifinals.
Lovelady came into the game having finished second in district competition behind the Grapeland Sandies. The Lions defeated Cayuga in the Bi-District round and Crawford in the Area round to make it this far.
Slocum, on the other hand, had finished third in league play behind Grapeland and Lovelady. The Mustangs had defeated Cross Roads and Rosebud-Lott to reach the Regional Quarterfinals.
Aside from a big Lovelady second quarter, the two teams played fairly close throughout the game. In the end, however, the Lions simply had too much firepower for the Mustangs as they defeated Slocum by a final of 79-70.
The game started out at a breakneck pace as the Lions and Mustangs traded the lead for most of the quarter until Lovelady managed to take a two point lead at the end of the period.
The Mustangs first quarter scoring attack was paced by Colby Thornton with eight points while three other Slocum players – Andrew Abernathy, Josh Ives and Lincoln Smith – all had four. Shane Bennett also chipped in two for Slocum.
Lovelady was led by Seth Murray who canned a pair of three-pointers. Deontrae Hawkins, Logan Lowery and Michael Price all had four while Tre Hawkins, Trevon Hawkins and Jay Thomas Robinson all had two as the Lions edged ahead by a score of 24-22 after the first period of play.
The second quarter turned out to be a difference maker as the Mustangs defense could not slow down the Lovelady offense. Abernathy and Thornton dropped in five apiece for Slocum while Ives added two and Randy Guess converted one of two from the line to close out the first half scoring.
The Lions kept up a torrid pace in the second period as they dropped 23 on the Mustangs to take a 47-35 lead as they retired to the locker room at halftime.
Murray continued to have a hot hand as he netted eight points in the second. Trevon Hawkins, Price and Robinson all dropped in three while D. Hawkins and Lowery both had two.
After the break, the Lions continued to hold the Mustangs in check. Thornton poured in eight for Slocum while Abernathy, Smith and Chase Wilson all had two. Guess added one to close out the third quarter scoring for Slocum.
The Lions third quarter scoring came from Trevon Hawkins with seven points and McKnight with six. Robinson added three, Price had two and Slade Murray chipped in one to give the Lions a 66-50 lead with eight minutes remaining in the contest.
The Mustangs mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter but try as they might, Slocum just couldn’t quite get over the hump. Thornton continued to play stellar basketball with six points while Smith had five. Guess added four, Ives hit a three and Abernathy converted a pair of free throws to close out the Mustangs’ point production.
The Lions did just enough in the final period of play to keep the Mustangs at arm’s length. McKnight had six while D. Hawkins, Price and Robinson all had two. In addition, Lowery added one of two from the line to help give the Lions a 79-70 win and send them to the Regional Semifinals.
On the game, Slocum was led by Colby Thornton’s game-high 27 points. Andrew Abernathy went for 13, Lincoln Smith had 11 and Josh Ives had nine. Randy Guess added six while both Shane Bennett and Chase Wilson had two apiece.
The Lions were led in scoring by five players in double figures. Chris McKnight and Seth Murray led the pack with 14 apiece. Trevon Hawkins netted 12, Michael Price had 11 and Jay Thomas Robinson went for 10. Deontrae Hawkins had eight, Logan Lowery had seven and Tre Hawkins added a basket to close out the Lovelady point production.
The win moves the Lovelady Lions into the Regional Semifinals against the #1 ranked Shelbyville Dragons.