The Alexander boys and girls’ basketball teams traveled to Lithia Springs on Saturday night. Both Lithia teams were coming off three game losing streaks and so it was thrilling for Lions fans to witness two home victories. The Lady Lions won, 76-6, and the LSHS boys won, 61-53.
In the girls’ game, the Lady Lions started strong with good perimeter shooting, getting off to a 12-4 lead. Alexander turned the ball over three times in the early going, but the Lady Cougars fought back, getting defensive swats from center Imari Montalvo, and nearly tying the score by the end of the quarter. Lithia led, 14-12.
In the second quarter Alexander controlled the boards and scoring for the first five minutes, but with turnovers off inbound passes, and steady pressure by the Lady Lions defense, Lithia worked back into the game and took a 31-30 halftime lead.
A number of fouls by both teams off of tight officiating under the basket slowed down the pace of play in the third quarter. Both teams had small runs and ended the quarter tied at 45-45.
The Lady Lions took control in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, building a lead off of sloppy ball handling by the Lady Cougars, and strong offensive play by Lithia’s Chyon Leslie and Auna McCalla. Alexander’s Claudia Hester brought the Lady Cougars within three, 58-55, by hitting back to back three pointers. However, Leslie answered with a basket giving Lithia a five point lead once again. At this point, Leslie and Kiana Johnson took over for the Lady Lions, each scoring multiple baskets in the last five minutes to give Lithia the win.
Kiana Johnson led LSHS with 25 points followed, by Leslie with 20 and McCalla with 14.
“This was a big win for us coming off three straight losses,” said LSHS coach David Mills. “This is the first time our girls have pressed for 4 quarters and this allowed us to pull off the victory. It was a total team effort that allowed us to beat a very good Alexander squad.”
In the boys game, Alexander got off to a 6-2 lead thanks to three Lithia turnovers. With a strong comeback, LSHS forward Qunta Beford’s eight first quarter points gave the Lions the lead with a minute left. However, Cougar forward Isaac Zico hammered home a dunk near the buzzer to bring the Cougars back to within one. Lithia led, 15-14.
Lithia’s Daquan Huff answered the buzzer to start the second quarter with a breakaway lay-up and another bucket off of a steal. There were a lot of missed opportunities for both teams but the Lions held the lead going into the locker room, 29-24.
In the third quarter, Huff and Bedford provided the scoring punch for the Lions. For Alexander it was the all Artavius Love, who scored all 14 points . Love hit back to back three pointers to help draw the Cougars within three at 41-38.
In the last quarter, point guard Tyric Mustiller used his quickness and ball handling skills to cash in for LSHS on missed Alexander baskets and good down court passing from his Lion teammates. Bedford controlled the boards on both ends of the floor for the Lions. Lithia closed with a solid 61-53 victory over the visiting Cougars, also breaking a three game losing skid.
The leading Lion scorers were Huff and Bedford, who had 19 points each. Alexander’s Love led all scorers with 24. Josh Heath followed with 11.
“My kids can play very well when they are focused and working together as a team,” said LSHS coach JW Cantrell. “When Alexander came out shooting from the perimeter some might have thought me foolish for sticking with the zone defense, but I felt it was the right defense tonight and it turned out that way.”