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Lanett streaks past Tigers, 68-51

TROY – Luverne's first trip to a Class 2A regional final didn't turn out as well as the Tigers would have hoped.

Lanett strung together basket after basket to take a 30-5 lead in the second period and ultimately send the Tigers home with a 68-51 loss on Friday at Troy University's Trojan Arena.

It was a moment, said Luverne head coach Richard Dorsey about Panthers' opening game lead, when his team picked the bad time to come out 'flat.'

In the first period, Lanett shot 40 percent from the field. Luverne, meanwhile, had connected on just two shots.

"We lost our patience against their quickness and rushed shots," said Dorsey. "And that will cost you - especially in a big games."

The Panthers led 17-5 at that point before completely running away with the game when the second period started.

Lanett heads to Birmingham as just the second team in the school's history to make the Final Four.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of this team," said Panthers' head coach David Pickard. "I know of one (sports) writer that said this team wouldn't win 10 games all year long because of our youth and inexperience. But I told the team that they had the potential."

The Panthers, with just two seniors on their rosters, certainly lived up to that potential on Friday. Freshman Jakana Brooks led the team with 19 points and fellow freshman Lemarcus Wright added 12.

A three-pointer by Luverne's Dequaris Reed finally halted the Panthers' 13-0 run in the second.

By then, though, it was all but over.

Lanett led 35-19 at the half.

"We wanted to play 'deny' defense," said Pickard. "We wanted to match-up on the ball and control the tempo. But we didn't want to get reckless. Also, we did a good job of picking our shots and going to the basket."

Pickard said he knew what a good rebounding team Luverne was. Especially after watching Tigers' forward Macklin Burnett pull down a record 23 boards during Monday night's win over Samson. Burnett had 10 rebounds on Friday and finished with 11 points.

"We spent a majority of our practice (leading up to this game) doing rebound drills and boxing out," said Pickard.

But with the shots not falling for Luverne, the rebounding advantage didn't matter much by the end of the game. Although the baskets started to come more frequently in the second half, Luverne ended the game shooting 31 percent. Lanett, by comparison, shot 45 percent.

The Tigers would pull within 15 on a foul shot by Fred Hawkins in the first few seconds of the third.

But Lanett would push it back to as high as 25 points before the game was over.

Hawkins and Gary Franklin, who combined for 57 points against Samson, managed only 17 against the Panthers. Hawkins finished with nine and Franklin added eight.

Despite the loss, Dorsey was pleased with his team's overall accomplishments for the season. There was an area regular season and tournament title as well as a trip to Troy and an Elite Eight finish in Class 2A boy's basketball.

"All year long we had the support of the school and the community," said Dorsey. "We're sorry we disappointed them here today."