The LCMS eighth grade girls basketball team finished up its 2019-2020 season by winning the Mountain League runner-up title after falling to rival Dawson County in the championship game last week.
“This group of ladies had a tremendous season, ending with a 12-2 record,” said LCMS girls basketball coach Laura Wilson. “Every one of these ladies are top notch athletes, combine that with a strong work ethic, throw them a basketball and they are sure to put on a show.”
The eighth grade Lady Indians put on a show when they took to the court at Union County Middle School to square off with the Fannin County Lady Rebels on Thursday, Jan. 23, after a first round bye.
Scoring sensation Averie Jones put up monster numbers in the first half of play against the Lady Rebels, scoring 19 points, and helped her team build a 29-12 advantage at the halftime break.
Jones was helped out by her teammates Madison Powell and Ava Jones, who both scored four points in the first half, and by Ciera Brooks, who scored two points in the first two quarters of the contest.
The Lady Indians never looked back from there and went on to defeat Fannin County by a final score of 58-41.
Averie Jones finished with a game high 28 points, Powell added 14 points and Brooks and Ava Jones each contributed seven points in the victory.
The win advanced the Lady Indians to the championship game versus Dawson County on Friday, Jan. 24.
Despite a 19-point performance from Averie Jones, the Lady Indians would fall short of winning the Mountain League Championship title for the second straight season and had to settle for runner-up honors.
The Lady Tigers won the game and the championship title by a final score of 52-42.
Ava Jones had a solid offensive performance with eight points and Powell finished the game with five points.
Dawson had three different players score in double digits.
“Our performance in the Mountain League Tournament was not as I hoped it would be,” Wilson said. “Dawson County proved to be a tough match for us each game this season. We won the battles, but they won the war. You go through a season and these girls put in the time, blood, sweat and tears and it’s hard for me to say that this one game truly showed the potential that these ladies have. In my eyes they are winners. They showed growth over the season, they walked with grace and fought each battle hand in hand. This is only the beginning for these young ladies.”
With the end of the season comes the end of several spectacular middle school careers, something that Wilson feels blessed to have been a part of over the past few seasons.
“This eighth grade team was the first team that I have been blessed enough to coach,” Wilson said. “All seven of them will be greatly missed next year. With that being said, I fully expect them to keep turning heads as they go into high school. If they possess this kind of skill as eighth graders, I cannot wait to see what kind of athletes Coach David Dowse will shape them into at the high school level.”
The eighth grade Lady Indians finished the 2019-2020 season with a 12-2 overall record.
Effort and a drive to win catapulted the LCMS eighth grade boys basketball team into the finals of the Mountain League Championship tournament, where the Indians lost a close contest against the Pickens County Dragons to finished the 2019-2020 season as Mountain League runner-ups.
“This was a special group of guys,” said LCMS head boys basketball coach Daniel McCrary. “The thing that made them so special is that they played for each other. If you were able to come to any of our games this year, you would have seen supportive teammates on the court and on the bench. Even when guys were not playing, they were always cheering on their teammates. That is something that does not come along very often.”
The Indians went into the end of season tournament as the number three seed and stepped onto the court at Fannin County Middle School ready for action when they squared off with the White County Warriors in the first round on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The Indians showcased a tenacious and stifling defense which opened up offensive opportunities for Lumpkin on the other side of the court. Lumpkin jumped out to a 24-0 advantage after the first quarter of play and continued to pour on the hurt in the second quarter, outscoring White County 8-4, to take a 32-4 halftime lead.
The Warriors didn’t connect on their first basket of the contest until midway through the second quarter when they drained a three-pointer. White County’s fourth point of the first half came from the free throw line with 11.2 seconds left on the clock before the break.
The Indians were able to play all of their players, including subs, in the game and continued to keep the Warriors at a distance for the duration of the game.
In the end, Lumpkin emerged victorious by a final score of 44-16.
Harper Davenport missed just one shot in the contest and went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to lead the Indians’ offense with 16 points. Davenport looked cool, calm and collected as he dropped three-pointer after three-pointer against the Warriors.
Stephen Sherrill got into the action from beyond the arc as well, knocking down two three-pointers, and finished the game with nine points.
Will Wood and Cal Faulkner each added four points and Beaui Apel contributed three points in the dominant victory.
In all, seven different Lumpkin players scored in the game.
The win advanced the Indians to the semifinal game versus the Dawson County Tigers on Thursday, Jan. 23.
The trio of Faulkner, Davenport and Preston Cox helped the Indians to a 52-34 win against their neighboring rival. Faulkner had a strong game and led the Indians’ offense with 15 points. Faulkner was followed by Davenport’s 11 points and Cox’s nine points.
The potency of Faulkner’s ability to drive the lane, Davenport’s long-distance shooting and Cox’s powerful play down low proved to be too much for the Tigers to contend with and the Indians secured themselves a spot in the Mountain League Championship finals versus the Pickens County Dragons.
In the championship game, the Indians received a phenomenal performance from Faulkner, who scored 18 points, but were unable to get the shots they need down the stretch.
The result was a heartbreaking 43-39 loss which denied the Indians of the championship trophy.
Davenport and Cox continued to play well in the finals, recording nine and seven points respectively in the championship game.
The Indians finished the season as the Mountain League runner-ups with a 10-5 overall record.
Despite the loss in the finals, McCrary was beaming with pride about what his players had accomplished during the season.
“We could not be any more proud of this group and everything they accomplished,” McCrary said. “While we came up a little bit short of our main goal, we accomplished a lot. Every game we played this year, we had the opportunity to win, and that speaks to their competitive nature and their never quit attitude. We had so much fun coaching these guys. Coming into the tournament, we knew we were going to have to play three games, back to back to back, and two of those games were against the only teams that beat us this year. We were able to play those three games and avenge one of those losses against Dawson. We fell just a bit short against Pickens in the championship game, but we could not be happier with their effort and drive. They left all that had on the court, and as coaches that is all we could ask for. Each player on the team improved their games over the season, and we really think that there are big things ahead for this group.”
With all but Faulkner moving to the high school level next season, McCrary took time to acknowledge this particular group of eighth grade players.
“This group will be greatly missed,” McCrary said. “For our first year as coaches, we could not have asked for a better group of guys. They were easy to coach and were always willing to get better. They are all very coachable. In terms of the potential at the next level, we think it is very high. This group is special and they have all the pieces to be great. If they stick together and continue to work hard and get better, we expect to see great things from them at the next level. We also think that they had a great impact on our seventh grade bunch. They were able to see them practice everyday and were able to see the work they put in and the success it led to. Hopefully, the seventh grade group will be able to emulate that next year and we will see similar success on the court.”