Lithia Springs took the short trip across the county Tuesday evening to play Chapel Hill in a pair of Region 5-AAAAA games. In the first meeting of the year between the schools, the Lady Lions and Lady Panthers battled in a heated game. Chapel Hill hit 13 shots from the line in the fourth quarter to come from behind and win, 63-57. The CHHS and LSHS boys battled into overtime with the Panthers winning, 65-63.
In the opening game, both girls’ teams came out shooting. After a layup by Ayanna Dinkins, both Chapel Hill and Lithia Springs combined for three consecutive 3-pointers. The Lady Panthers connected on two, one each from Alexia Wallace and Lauren Owens. Saundra Manyitabot connected from long range for the Lady Lions. Chapel Hill led, 6-5.
Lithia hit four of the next five shots, with four points coming from Kiana Johnson, to go up 13-7. Chapel Hill slowly worked back into the game, and cut the deficit to three in the final seconds of the quarter when Taylor Ramsey knocked down a three from the corner. Lithia led at the end of the first, 17-15.
The Lady Panthers cut the deficit to one off a free throw to start the second quarter. Lithia then rolled off six straight points. Johnson scored four off a layup and a pair of free throws. Chapel Hill cut the deficit again, this time to two points by capping off a five point run with a Shekinah Howard 3-pointer.
With 1:21 to go in the second quarter, Chapel Hill tied the game at 25 when Wallace hit the first of two shots from the free throw line. With 15 seconds to go, Jazmine Lawrence grabbed the ball off the glass and scored on the put-back to put the Lady Panthers up by two. Chapel Hill led at the half, 27-25.
Alex Weems opened the third quarter with a 3-point play after getting fouled on a layup. She put the Lady Panthers up by five. Lithia answered with three straight layups. Johnson connected twice to put the Lady Lions up, 31-30. Lithia pulled away from the free throw line, taking a five point lead off two shots each from Chyon Leslie and Manyitabot. Leslie competed the Lady Lion 12 point run with a layup.
After the two teams exchanged baskets, Chapel Hill came roaring back with seven straight to re-take a one point lead. Wallace turned the game with an offensive rebound and two layups during the run. Kayla Alexander connected for two to give the Lady Panthers the advantage.
Lithia grabbed the lead back on two Leslie free throw shots. The Lady Lions built a five point lead with a minute in the quarter and held on to 47-44 lead as the buzzer ended the third.
Free throws led to Chapel Hill taking a brief 50-49 lead with 5:07 to play. Wallace connected on four of the six shots made to put the Lady Panthers up. Lithia took the lead back on the next possession. As the game wound down, play intensified and the lead changed several times. With a minute to go the game was tied at 57.
Chapel Hill’s Wallace was fouled with 42.9 seconds on the clock and connected on both shots from the line to put the Lady Panthers up. With Lithia forced to foul, Chapel Hill managed to hit just enough shots to seal the victory.
Wallace led Chapel Hill with 17 points, followed by 15 from Howard and 14 from Weems. Johnson scored 16 for Lithia despite fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Leslie followed with 14.
In the boys game, Lithia opened with a four point lead off back-to-back layups by Jachin Capers. The Lions widened their lead to six later in the quarter off two points by Kamari Williams. Three straight layups at the end of the quarter put Lithia up by 10. Capers hit the final shot for a 15-5 lead.
Chapel Hill came out in the second quarter firing. A layup by Logan Johnstone cut the deficit to two less than a minute into the quarter. Efe Balfour was fouled on a layup attempt and went to the line, knocking down two Panther points to tie the game. Lithia briefly took back the lead, but Chapel answered with five straight points to go up, 20-17. The run was closed with a dunk by Balfour, but he held on to the rim and received a technical. Qunta Bedford took the tech shots and made both, and then followed with a layup to give his team a 21-20 advantage.
The lead bounced back and forth as the quarter ticked down. Down by one, Chapel Hill’s Jarrett Jenkins hit a layup and Balfour followed with a 3-point play. Jenkins then hit a long jumper to put the Panthers up, 30-24. Chapel Hill ended the half up, 32-26.
Lithia needed three minutes to tie the game in the third quarter when Bedford knocked down a jumper. Capers nailed the next shot to put the Lions up, 39-37. After Lithia went down, and then came back to tie the game at 41, Chapel Hill closed the quarter with a seven point run, which included a 3-point play by Reece Anderson. Heading into the final eight minutes, the Panthers led, 48-41.
After nearly two minutes of no scoring in the fourth, Lithia’s Tylen Walker hit back-to-back layups to cut the deficit to three. Brandon Peterson answered with a 3-pointer for Chapel Hill but then Walker knocked down a shot from long range as well. The Panthers led, 51-48.
Chapel Hill began to run down the clock at the three minute mark. With 2:12 to go, Bedford knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to one. At the 50 second mark, Jenkins rolled in a layup to put the Panthers up, 55-52. Lithia then called a timeout with 17 seconds remaining to set up a final play. After the inbound pass, the ball made the round and ended in the hands of Daquan Huff. Huff hit the three with seven seconds remaining to tie the game at 55
Led by Walker’s four points, Lithia held a 63-61 lead in overtime with 30 seconds to play. Chapel Hill’s Anderson then sunk a layup to tie the game and was fouled on the play. He hit the layup to put the Panthers up by one. With 5.9 seconds on the clock, Johnstone went to the line and hit one shot to give Chapel Hill a 65-63 lead. With Lithia charging down court, locking for one last shot, Johnstone stole the ball to seal the Panther victory.
Balfour led Chapel Hill with 19 points. He was followed by 12 from Anderson and 11 from Jenkins. Bedford scored 15 for the Lions, followed by 14 from Capers, 12 from Huff and 11 from Walker.