LMS had defeated the Panthers by double digits twice during the regular season, but E.O. Coffman hung tough for much of Saturday's contest and trailed just 20-18 at halftime before seizing a 26-22 lead late in the third quarter.
Hindered by the loss of guard Garrett Martin in the final minute of the third quarter due to a broken wrist, the Panthers (15-6) were unable to hold off Lewisburg down the stretch, as the Tigers outscored E.O. Coffman 19-2 the rest of the way to take home the 13-point win.
Thanks to Saturday's win, LMS earned one of the number one seeds in the upcoming Middle Tennessee Class AA Sectional tournament where they will take on Sycamore in the first round at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday night at E.O. Coffman Middle School.
"This was a tough game. It might have been our toughest game all year and we needed it going into the Sectional tournament," said Lewisburg coach David Lovell. "I thought we responded like a champion though and brought home the win. That was probably the best game Coffman played this year so we took their best shot."
Although they shot only 34 percent (17-of-50) from the field and hit just 2-of-15 attempts from three-point range, the Tigers committed just 13 turnovers, outrebounded E.O. Coffman 23-20, and held a 16-6 edge on the offensive glass.
Jay Howard turned in a strong performance on both ends of the court and led Lewisburg with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and two blocked shots en route to being named tournament MVP. D'Andre Brown followed Howard with eight points, while Keevon Maxwell added seven points and four steals. Tre Crutcher and Caleb Fields rounded out the scoring for LMS with four and three points respectively with Crutcher registering four steals and three assists.
The Panthers, conversely, shot 46 percent (13-of-28) from the floor and hit 2-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc, but committed 26 turnovers, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone.
Craig Nix and Kalen Skinner paced E.O. Coffman with eight points apiece, while Bear Hunt and Martin added five and three points respectively. Dawson James and Cameron Moore chipped in two points apiece for the Panthers as well.
E.O. Coffman got off to a fast start and jumped out to an 11-4 lead late in the first quarter, but the Tigers put together a 13-0 run behind eight points from Howard and a Maxwell trey to pull ahead 17-11 midway through the second period.
The Panthers then rattled off seven straight points to grab a 18-17 advantage with 1:05 left in the second quarter before Fields buried a three from the left corner in the waning moments of the half to give LMS a 20-18 lead at the break.
E.O. Coffman then opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to claim a 26-22 advantage with 1:32 left in the third quarter, but Maxwell scored on a layup and Howard converted a three-point play to stake Lewisburg to a 27-26 lead at the end of the stanza.
The Tigers then dominated the fourth and outscored the Panthers 12-0 through the first 4:22 of the period on the strength of four points apiece from Brown, Howard, and Crutcher to forge a 39-26 advantage before claiming the 41-28 win.