LOACHAPOKA — After dominating their competition for most of the season, the Loachapoka Lady Indians needed a win Wednesday to lock up another area title. Despite Lanett’s best efforts, the Lady Indians finished the job.
Loachapoka pulled away from Lanett before halftime and held steady for the remaining two quarters en route to a 42-27 victory. The win gave the Lady Indians the Area 6-1A tournament title and even more momentum going into the Class 1A subregionals next week.
“The girls, I really think they believed. They started to believe,” Loachapoka coach Anthony Edwards said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times. We made free throws tonight. We’ve been shooting really poorly from the line. They’re starting to believe in themselves. As long as they believe, we can go far.”
Loachapoka found itself clinging to a one-point lead to start a second quarter that it completely dominated.
The Lady Indians worked diligently before halftime to build a solid lead and did so thanks to Trinity Pulliam and the entire team’s strong free-throw shooting. While the Lady Panthers looked to find a rhythm on offense, Loachapoka got Lanett in foul trouble and went to work down low with Pulliam.
By halftime, Pulliam had a game-high nine points to help Loachapoka lead by eight. She ended the victory with a game-high 15 points and was named to the All-Tournament team alongside teammates Ty’Tiana Clemons and O’Daisha Richardson.
It was a bitter turn of events for Lanett, which started the game on a 6-0 run and didn’t give up a single point for the first four-and-a-half minutes of action.
As Loachapoka stretched its lead in the third, Lanett struggled to find the basket at all. The Lady Panthers had only one point in the third until there was 2:45 to go in the quarter.
Despite a strong close to the third period, Lanett simply couldn’t close the gap in the final eight minutes. Loachapoka held Lanett to just four points in the fourth until there was only 2:19 left on the clock.
Loachapoka, meanwhile, hit 11 free throws in the final six minutes of action to put the game in ice.
“I kept telling them that the game wasn’t over. We could not relax until the horn sounded,” Edwards said. “Every now and then we had somebody have a little lapse, but we’d just call a timeout or a teammate would remind them to keep going. I give a lot of credit to the girls. They come out and give me what they’ve got every day.”
Lanett’s Alyse Madden led the team with 11 points and five rebounds in the loss. Madden, Breanna Glaze and America Truitt were all named to the All-Area Tournament team.
Both teams now move on to the Class 1A subregionals. For Edwards, his message to his team is all about playing like they’re the team to beat.
“We’ve been talking about predators and prey. We’re talking about being the predator. We don’t want to be the prey. No matter where we go — if we’re away or home — we come in and play the role of the predator. Somebody else can be the prey.”