The Lithia Springs basketball teams traveled to Bowden High School Thursday night for a pair of games against Central-Carrollton to open the 2014 SMI Carroll County Classic. The boys dominated Central, winning 93-37. The Lady Lions lost another heartbreaking one point game, 51-50.
The first quarter of the boys game provided little indication that the game would be won in a rout. Lithia led, 17-10. However, the Lion offense turned it up a notch in the second quarter and the defense was suffocatingly good, giving Lithia a 55-19 halftime lead. Lithia continued to pull away in the third quarter, going up 84-30.
“We figured out the way the referees were going to call the game early and that gave us leeway to suffocate them,” said LSHS boys coach JW Cantrell. “We played as hard as we have played all year. They know I have not been pleased with how the season is going, and hopefully this turns it around for us.”
Damian Howell led the Lions with 18 points. The 6-foot-7 player scored most of his points under the basket and went 4-for-5 from the free throw line. Daquan Huff followed with 12 points. He scored 10 of his points in a two minute stretch in the second quarter.
“Damian played like he should have been all season,” Cantrell said. “Daquan was all over the place.”
Both James Williams and Chris Fernandez scored nine points each.
“James is starting to come on and he is building confidence,” Cantrell said. “Chris was a difference maker in the game. He had 11, 12, 13 rebounds. Central was not getting any rebounds when he was in.
In the girls game, a devastating first quarter put the Lady Lions in a hole early. Lithia managed only two points of offense in the first, and trailed 11-2. However, the team stepped up over the next three quarters, winning each one. Lithia took the second quarter, 14-10, the third quarter, 17-15 and the third quarter, 15-15.
The Lady Lions fought back to take a lead late in the fourth quarter, going up 50-49. However, the team missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 17 seconds to go and Central was able to take the ball down the floor. Central missed their first shot but Lithia failed to box out. Central picked up the offensive rebound and scored on the put-back to take the lead. The Lady Lions had a chance with 4.4 seconds to go, but the inbound pass was fumbled and the game ended with Lithia down by one.
“It was another give away loss for us,” said LSHS girls coach David Mills.
Liana Johnson led the Lady Lions with 12 points. Ayanna Dinkins followed with 10.
On day two of the tourney, the Lady Lions defeated Mount Zion, 85-60. The Lithia boys beat Bowden, 85-52 to advance to the tourney championship game.
The Lithia boys jumped out to a 19-14 first quarter lead. They pulled away by halftime, going up 40-19. They led 60-38 at the end of the third quarter.
“We got the tempo going at the level we wanted,” Cantrell said. “We did what we wanted to against a team we were much better than..”
Tylen Walker and Jachin Capers led the team with 11 points each. Howell and Kamari Williams netted 10 points apiece. Fernandez added nine.
The championship game was played at 8 p.m. on Saturday and information was not available by deadline. The game article will be available in Wednesday’s edition of The Sentinel.
In the girls game, Lithia jumped out to a 28-12 first quarter lead. They led 49-28 at the half and 63-50 after the third quarter. The Lady Lions were down several starters for various reasons and coach David Mills had to call up a JV player to the varsity squad.
That JV player, Angelique Mabry, led Lithia with 27 points.
“She is a 10th grader and in her first varsity game she went 7-for-9 from the field with two three pointers. I could not be more proud of a player. Her points get the attention but she put in the effort guarding people and played hard,” Mills said.
Kiana Johnson followed Mabry, scoring 17 points in a half. Anna McCalla added 16, scoring every one of her points in the first quarter. Ayanna Dinkins scored 12 in the second half of play.
“I thought we gave up way to many points to a Single-A team,” Mills said. “We have to work on our interior defense. Other than that it was a typical game against a smaller school.”