Lake Clifton takes region title 4A NORTH

March 04, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

In 1993, it was the loss to High Point in an intense region `` semifinal game. Last season, it was another regional semifinal loss -- that time to Southern-B in a game that it seemingly had in control.

But for Lake Clifton, those past playoff shortcomings became distant memories yesterday as the No. 1 Lakers posed for pictures after defeating visiting No. 9 Southern, 70-56, in the state 4A North region title game, ending the Bulldogs' two-year reign as state champions.

Shawnta Rogers led all scorers with 25 points for Lake Clifton (21-1) and had seven assists and six steals. Guy Butler added 14 points and eight rebounds. Dedric Galloway and Shawntay Barnes each scored 15 points to lead Southern (13-10).

Thursday night at Cole Field House, Lake Clifton, ranked No. 13 nationally by USA Today, will play in a state 4A semifinal game against an opponent to be determined.

Reaching Cole Field House has been the single motivating factor for the Lakers all season. Their reign as No. 1 has been challenged more than recent top-ranked teams and, at times, it wasn't always pretty. But the final result was what matter to the Lakers.

"It's ludicrous with the schedule that we've played this season that we were going to fold in a championship game," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore. "We've been ready. We are ready. We've been waiting for this moment."

At halftime, Moore talked to his team about not losing their final home game, especially to his six seniors.

And his players responded in the fourth period with the game tied at 45 against a team that it beaten by a total of three points in two regular-season meetings.

"When we went into the locker room, we knew we had to come out and get a bigger lead," said Rogers. "We couldn't afford to let them stay close this time."

After John Hemsley gave Southern only its second and final lead at 47-45 on a basket around Butler with 6:41 left in the game, Ronald Byrd (12 points) came right back for Lake Clifton with a three-pointer for the lead.

Then it was Rogers, as he has in key moments all season, hitting a short jumper and following up with a three-pointer from the top of key, extending the Lakers' lead to 53-47 with 5:46 left.

The Bulldogs got to within 53-49, but Rogers hit another three for a seven-point lead.

Southern, which defeated Woodlawn and Walbrook to reach the region title game, couldn't get any closer as, for most of the game, it rushed shots and didn't finish on others.

Another key was the performance of junior forward Hemsley, who finished with six points after scoring 70 in Southern's two playoff wins.

"We didn't take our time and they just beat us down the floor," Hemsley said. "They have a more experienced team and it shows in the end."

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