SANTEE — Lake Marion head coach Roy Brown keeps a reminder of what the team’s goal is on his hand.
That reminder is Brown’s state championship ring that Holly Hill-Roberts laid claim to back in the 1998-99 season. While the Gators still have a few more battles to fight with the playoffs right around the corner, they took a major step in getting closer to that goal as they all but solidified first place in Region 7-AA with a 73-62 win over Lake City.
“I think that pretty much solidified it,” Brown said when asked if the win clinched the region, “but we’ve got four more games that we’ve still got to play. Hopefully, we keep winning and others teams keep playing the way they’re playing. Then, we’ll pretty much have it wrapped up.”
Lake Marion (17-1, 6-0) wasted little time getting ahead of the visiting Panthers. Already up 7-4 with 3:57 left in the opening quarter, Austin Lawton provided the top-ranked Gators with a spark off the bench with six points in the paint along with two blocks and three rebounds.
“Coach Jenkins told him in the locker room that this really was his best game as far as getting in and really asserting himself. If he continued to do that, the sky is the limit for him. When he plays that way, it makes it hard for the other team.”
As the Gators put points on the board, they kept Lake City (10-7, 4-2) off the scoreboard as the Panthers finished the quarter with just seven points. However, their fortune on offense changed in the second quarter as Marcus Williamson took over for Lake City. Williamson accounted for seven of the team’s 15 points in the second, but Lake City still found themselves trailing 32-22 at the break.
“Marcus is pretty much one of the big guys under the board for us,” Lake City head coach Michael Manning said. “He works hard day in and day out for us to get better at basketball. He’s pretty much a football player, but he works very hard on the basketball court. I just wish we could have had him around last year where he’d be a little more finessed around the basket. Right now, he’s just raw around the basket when he gets it and he works hard to put it back in the basket.”
Lake Marion turned it up a notch in the third as Khalil Halls and Mike Williams scored 15 of the Gators’ 27 third-quarter points pushing the home team’s lead to 59-41.
“They feed off of each other very well,” Brown said of Halls and Williams. “It’s very interesting when both of those guys are scoring. It makes our players play better. So, we’ve got to keep them going and, hopefully, they’ll continue to do that for the rest of the season.”
Williams was the top scorer for the Gators with 17 while Halls finished with 14 points.Lake City offered one last bid to hand the Gators their second loss of the season as they went on a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter. However, that would be as close they would get as the Gators, who turned the ball over 13 times in the final period, eventually closed the Panthers’ window of opportunity.
“I think we had maybe 25 or 27 turnovers,” Brown noted. “That really hurt us, but I told the guys that, in spite of having 27 turnovers, we scored 73 points. Just imagine, if we hadn’t had all those turnovers and we played well, what the score could have been.”
Prior to the boys’ game, Lake City’s girls defeated the Lady Gators 51-45.
Shaunice Fulmore led the Lady Panthers (14-2. 6-0) to victory scoring 15 of her 21 points in the second half.
“Shaunice is going to get her points,” Lady Gators head coach Charm Eaddy said. “Even when it was tough, she came through when we needed her. She made some easy layups on some offensive rebounds. She stepped up as a sophomore and that’s pretty big.”
Marquayla Lee-Parson was Lake Marion’s top scorer with 12 points while Carmen Robinson added 11 in the loss.
LM (73) - Mike Williams 17, Khalil Halls 14, Deriante Jenkins 11, Lawton 6, Wright 5, Turner 5, Bryant 5, Myers 3, Austin 2, T. Williams 2, Asberry 2, Sellers 1.
LC (62) - Marcus Williamson 19, Elgin Morris 13, Keith Burgess 10, McFadden 7, Cooper 4, McCants 3, D. Barr 2, Hammond 2, Butler 2.
LC (51) - Shaunice Fulmore 21, Jasmine McClam 10, Brayboy 6, Elmore 6, Singletary 4, McClary 2, Behlin 2.
LM (45) - Marquayla Lee-Parson 12, Carmen Robinson 11, Grant 9, Sanders 5, Asberry 4, Moody 4.
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