LMS Tigers trounce E.O. Coffman in Area 2 title game

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The LMS Tigers defeated E.O. Coffman 42-24 to win their fourth straight Area 2 Class AA tournament championship. Pictured from left are Cameron Robertson, Montrell Harris, Logan Bailey, Keevon Maxwell, J.Q. Haislip, Zach Johnson, and Curtis Keiler. Middle from left, Tre Crutcher, Steven Dangerfield, and Malek Sain. Back row from left, Quavion Harris, D'Andre Brown, Payton Hood, Darius McKenzie, Jay Howard, and Dylan Jones.

The Lewisburg Middle School Tigers (14-4) captured their fourth straight TMSAA Area 2 Class AA tournament title by defeating the E.O. Coffman Panthers 42-24 at home on Thursday night in the championship game.

Having beaten E.O. Coffman handily twice during the regular season, the Tigers built a 23-10 lead in the first half despite getting off to a sluggish start, before outscoring the Panthers 19-14 over the final two quarters to cruise to the 18-point victory.

"We woke up after a slow start and then maintained our focus once we got the lead," said LMS coach David Lovell. "I think winning four straight titles says that we've had a lot of good players come through Lewisburg that have good attitudes and work hard. Having a good program is important to them."

Using their full court press to force an up tempo pace, LMS finished with 17 field goals on 40 percent shooting and committed only four turnovers while recording 12 assists as a team.

Although E.O. Coffman outrebounded Lewisburg 30-21 and held a 12-8 edge on the offensive boards, the Panthers shot a woeful 28 percent (10-of-36) from the field and committed 15 turnovers.

"We wanted to push the ball and pressure them in order to make it a high possession game," said Lovell. We wanted to speed up the game as much as possible."

Guard Malek Sain led the Tigers with 11 points, while D'Andre Brown, Curtis Keiler, and Jay Howard tallied nine, eight, and seven points respectively with Brown registering five assists and three steals. Darius McKenzie (four points), Dylan Jones (two points), and Steven Dangerfield (one point) rounded out the scoring for LMS.

Center Bryce Clifft paced E.O. Coffman with eight points, while Jordan Burdette and Kalen Skinner added seven and five points respectively.

The game was tied at 6-6 late in the first quarter before the Tigers notched the final five points of the stanza on a Howard free throw and layups from McKenzie and Brown to seize a 11-6 lead.

After Clifft hit a jumper to narrow the gap to 11-8 early in the second period, Lewisburg put together a 13-2 run with the help of a Sain trey and baskets from Howard, Keiler, Brown, and Jones to open up a 23-10 advantage at halftime.

LMS' Malek Sain shoots a runner over a pair of E.O. Coffman defenders in the first quarter. Photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

In the third, the LMS continued to distance themselves from the Panthers and outscored E.O. Coffman 14-7 in the quarter behind four points apiece from Sain, Howard, and Keiler to forge a 37-17 lead.

Following a jumper by Burdette, which trimmed the deficit to 37-19 early in the fourth period, the Tigers extended their lead to 41-19 on consecutive layups by McKenzie and Keiler before coasting to the 42-24 win.