Lithia Springs hosted Hiram Friday night in a pair of Region 5-AAAAA games. The Lady Lions nearly pulled off an upset of one of the region’s best teams. Taking a big lead early, Lithia would eventually fall, 45-41. The boys suffered a bad third period, which led to a 68-65 loss.
In the girls game, the Lady Lions jumped out to a 12-0 first period lead. They scored the first basket in the second period to take a 14 point lead before Hiram scored its first points. However, Lithia would get into foul trouble late in the period which allowed the tide to turn. The lead was down to 16-13 at the half. The Lady Lions rebounded with a 33-25 third period lead but Hiram competed the comeback over the final 12 minutes.
“We got into foul trouble and had to switch the lineup up and that is when they started pressing us,” said LSHS coach David Mills. “That changed the momentum of the game.”
While noticeably upset with the loss, Mills knows the implications be holding one of the top teams to a close game as the season progresses.
“We can guard most of the teams we play,” he said. “We just have to find some offense.”
Chyon Leslie led the defense while playing under the glass. The 5-foot-7 defender once again played well against a much taller player. Kiana Johnson led the scoring with 13 points, followed by T’era Fullove with 10 and Saundra Manyitabot with eight.
Lithia struggled at the free throw line, hitting 10-of-21.
In the boys game, Lithia jumped out to a 17-10 lead after the first period and led 33-31 at the half. However, the Lions struggled coming out of the half, falling down, 52-41.
“We came out and were not emotional,” said LSHS coach JW Cantrell. “It was like we did not want to be there. We were in a funk and kept missing free throws. We could not find the hole.”
Despite a bad team night, Tylen Walker stood out individually with 33 points. He scored 13 in the first half and then kept the Lions close with 20 in the second half.
“He saw we were struggling and he said ‘give me the ball’ and took over,” Cantrell said. “He was doing it all. They were trying to double him and get the ball out of his hands and they could not stop him.”
Walker hit three 3-pointers, eight shots from the field, and went 8-of-9 from the free throw line. He just missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at the end of regulation from about 25 feet out.
Qunta Bedford added 15 points.
Overall Cantrell said he was disappointed in the team performance.
“We have to win them all at home,” he added. “I thought we should have won this game.”