Central Lions pull out area win in overtime

Published 5:25 pm Thursday, February 12, 2009

A beautiful Jeremiah Leach 3-pointer at the buzzer breathed life back into the Luverne Tigers’ chance at defeating the Central-Hayneville Lions Monday night and sent the game into overtime. But it was Central who managed to pull out a 71-69 win, and give them the claim to the Area 3 Class 3-A championship trophy.

The Lions kept the Luverne Tigers held down during the first quarter, not allowing them to even score until five minutes into the game. With 3:34 left in the first quarter, Central was holding a steady 11-2 lead as senior Marcus Brown kept dropping in the points.

But Luverne steadily began adding points, including a Morrease Barber freethrow that cut Central’s lead to 5 points, putting the score at 12-7.

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At the end of the first quarter, Luverne’s Rashad Cannon hit a 3-pointer from way out to cut Central’s lead to 14-10.

Within one minute of the second quarter, the Tigers had tied with the Lions, 14-14, as they began holding Central’s offense down. But the Lions managed to stay just one step ahead for the rest of the second quarter.

Central’s Brown added a nice jump shot to pull their lead up to 22-16, and with 1:52 left in the second quarter, the Lions were up 27-16. However, Luverne’s Ketric Jackson added his own 3-pointer with one minute left. The Lions went into the locker room, though, with a 29-22 lead.

The third quarter saw few points added to the board, but plenty of fast-paced action.

With 4:36 left on the clock, Central was still holding the lead at 37-29.

But the Tigers kept adding their points as well as Jeremiah Leach grabbed a rebound and put it back up for two, bringing the score to 38-33 and cutting the Lions’ lead to just five.

But Central’s Marcus Brown dropped in another 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter, putting the Lions ahead 43-33.

The fourth quarter was a different story, however, as Luverne kept the game close, only trailing by 4 or 5 points and closing in on the Lions all the way to the very end of the game.

With 1:09 left on the clock, Luverne’s Morrease Barber made a crowd-pleasing slam dunk, edging in on Central’s 57-54 lead.

With 9.7 seconds left, Leach dropped a 3-pointer into the basket, putting the Tigers within two points of the Lions, at 62-60.

But things began to look grim as Central’s Tommie McCray hit one freethrow, seeming to clinch the win with the three-point lead.

That is, until Leach hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer, tying the game at 63-63 and causing the game to go into overtime.

Luverne’s Robert Freeman made a layup to add two for the Tigers, but Central answered with one of their own. Ketric Jackson hit two freethrows to put LHS ahead 67-65 with two minutes left in overtime action.

Central added two more points, but Morrease Barber added another layup putting Luverne in the lead 69-67 with one minute left in the game.

But two freethrows on two separate foul shots clinched the win for Central Hayneville as they walked away with the Area 3 Class 3-A championship trophy and a 71-69 win.

All-tournament players included Luverne’s Rashad Cannon and Morrease Barber.

For Central-Hayneville, Marcus Brown, Antijuan Ball, and Tommie McCray made the All-Tournament team list.

Leading scorers for the Tigers were Morrease Barber with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Rashad Cannon with 14 points. Lonnie and Robert Freeman both added 9 points each, while Jeremiah Leach dropped in 8. Ketric Jackson added five points, and Walter Barber added four points and pulled down 7 rebounds.

The Luverne Tigers will travel to Choctaw County High School in Butler, Ala., Friday, Feb. 13, for the Sub-regional game, which begins at 7 p.m.

Luverne defeat Straughn, 51-45

The Luverne Tigers defeated Straughn High last Friday night, 51-45. Leading scorers for the Tigers were Rashad Cannon with 11 points, 5 steals, and 3 assists, and Morrease Barber with 8 points. Senior Jeremiah Leach also added 8 points, while Robert Freeman dropped in 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Brandon McGhee had 7 points and 5 steals.