LANETT — The Lanett boys entered the opening game of the Area 6-1A tournament with an unblemished record in area play. By the time the first quarter of Tuesday’s game ended, it was apparent that perfect mark would stay that way.
Lanett had no problem whatsoever against Wadley, as the Panthers jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back in an 80-30 victory. The win pushes the Panthers to the area tournament title game on Thursday, when they will face Notasulga at home.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about is we want to come out and start fast,” Lanett coach Richard Carter said. “That was one of our goals tonight, and in order to do it we start out with our man-to-man defense. Once we got in the flow of things, then we kicked it up into some zone pressure and pressing with defensive tactics.
“The whole bunch really just came to play real hard, and I appreciate that, too.”
From the jump, it was apparent Carter’s team came to the court ready to put on a show.
Kintavious Dozier set the pace for the Panthers in the opening minutes, as he fired up five quick points to set up a 16-0 run for the home squad. With Dozier coming up with key baskets and sound passes and teammate Zameron Booker delivering in the paint and blocking any and all Wadley shots in his vicinity, the Panthers bullied Wadley through the opening half to make it clear that Lanett was title-game bound.
Even when Lanett’s reserve players got in the game in the first half, their pace never wavered. Players such as Larontavious Hurston and Seidrion Langston kept the pressure on Wadley constantly, which helped the Panthers go into the locker room with a 41-13 lead.
Carter explained after the game he was not surprised by how well his bench played when the time came.
“That second group, that’s their forte,” Carter said. “They come in to give us energy, and that’s what they did. They gave us a lot of energy tonight. That’s what I’m looking for them to do.”
After halftime, the only remaining question for either side concerned the final score. Outside Trae Abner’s coast-to-coast dunk that electrified what was left of the Lanett crowd with five minutes to go in the fourth, there were few key moments as the two teams finally worked the clock down to zero.
Dozier led Lanett with 15 points to go with three assists and four steals. Boozer had 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Seven Lanett players had at least eight points in the victory.
Carter and the Panthers now turn their attentions to Notasulga, the team the Panthers beat 57-51 and 57-50 back in January. Carter made it clear those past victories mean nothing now, and he emphasized how important it was for his players to show up ready to go Thursday.
“We’re at home, number one, and number two, they’ve got to play twice as hard to beat Notasulga because they can shoot the basketball, no doubt about it,” Carter said. “They’re a real good shooting team, and (our players) know that.”