LAKE CHARLES — There were several points to take away from second-seeded Lakeview’s 73-54 victory over No. 3 Episcopal in a Class 2A semifinal.
The list starts with the play of Lakeview’s Tay Hardy, who scored a game-high 29 points. The 6-foot-3 guard made 10 of 16 shots from the field, including an eye-popping 6 of 10 3-pointers on Thursday afternoon.
With the win, the Gators (27-5) advance to the Class 2A title game, setting up a rematch with No. 1 Riverside Academy (29-6) set for 4 p.m. Saturday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament.
Episcopal coach Chris Beckman Sr. was left to ponder the giv away at Burton Coliseum.
There were no freebies for the fans, just too many early Episcopal miscues, some of which were unforced, which made it easier for Lakeview to build a 20-0 lead that ultimately was too much to overcome.
“I can’t help thinking we gave it away in the first quarter,” Beckman said. “(Lakeview) came out and forced the issue. Their length and athleticism is something we can’t simulate in practice. I think we had a good game plan, and I think Lakeview did a good job of forcing us away from the basket.
“These three guys (Spencer Kleinpeter, Chris Beckman Jr. and Kevin Tripeaux) are good players. Lakeview just has more good players, like Riverside. Our guys competed as hard as they could. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Brenton Toussaint, who finished with 15 points, also scored in double figures for Lakeview.
Beckman Jr. led the Knights (31-3) with 17 points, while Spencer Kleinpeter added 15 and Kevin Tripeaux added 11.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Lakeview in the first quarter — or much worse for Episcopal.
The Gators made 9 of 12 shots from the field, sizzling 75 percent while scoring the first 20 points of the game. Episcopal had 10 first-quarter turnovers and didn’t score until Evan Lawson hit a jumper with 1:49 left.
Lakeview took a 20-6 lead into the second quarter. Episcopal scored the first seven points of the period and got within seven at 20-13 when Beckman Jr. scored inside.
That’s when Hardy reasserted himself, hitting two straight 3-pointers. The Lakeview guard was 4-for-7 from behind the arc and had 14 first-half points.
“Coach said, ‘Tay I need you to do what we do today … I need you to score the ball.’ ” Hardy said. “I did what I had to do. When they (Lakeview team) start going hard I start going hard and when I start going hard they start going hard.”
It looked like the Knights would go into halftime trailing by 10 points or less when Kleinpeter hit two free throws with 1:17 to go that made it 29-20.
But Lakeview scored the final five points, including an old-fashioned three-point play on a basket and free throw by Nate Stampley. The Gators led 34-20 at the half. Beckman Jr. scored the first basket of the second half to get the Knights within 12 points. The coach’s son hit a 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game at the 6:17 mark.
Episcopal was never were able to cut into the Lakeview lead enough to become a serious threat. Just as he did in the first half, Hardy hit two 3-pointers that extended the lead. The Gators led 53-34 after three quarters.
The Knights got no closer than 14 points in the final quarter as Lakeview, which made 57.4 percent of its shots (27 of 47), always had an answer.
“I kept preaching to these guys we just had to use our assets,” Lakeview coach Brian D. Williams said.