PRIDE — One Cinderella story came to an end. But with seventh-grader Morgyn Payne scoring a game-high 15 points, another continued.
Payne hit three 3-pointers, including two during a crucial second-quarter run, to lead 29th-seeded Lakeview to a 50-34 victory over 20th-seeded Northeast on Wednesday night at NHS.
“She (Payne) shot them at the right time,” Lakeview coach Marjorie Cotton said. “What can I say? Road win and we just want to get out of here.”
The Gators (10-17) got out of the Baton Rouge area with another win over a District 6-2A foe. Lakeview upset fourth-seeded Redemptorist to open the playoffs last week.
Payne was the only player in double figures for the Gators, who advance to play Jonesboro-Hodge in the quarterfinals Saturday. Lauri Kight finished with 12 points, and Pearl Jones had 11 for a Northeast squad that scored just 12 second-half points.
“Too many turnovers,” Northeast coach Johnny Felder said. “And free throws killed us too. I counted 18 or 20 points down on the block that we missed out on in the first half. Maybe they did get caught up in it (playoff atmosphere) a little. We never adjusted to them.”
Felder wanted the Vikings to take capitalize on their height advantage with the 6-foot-2 Jones and 6-0 Kight. But the smaller and quicker Gators countered with a pressure defense that led to 31 turnovers.
Northeast jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a bucket by Jones and two free throws by Kight. LHS tied it on a layup by Shelby Savell with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
The teams combined for 12 turnovers in the first quarter. Lakeview held the upper hand until Jones tied it at 11-11 with 1:10 left.
Ryann Cotton’s layup with three seconds left sent the Gators into the second quarter with a 13-11 lead. Lakeview used back-to-back 3-pointers by Payne to build a 21-13 second-quarter lead.
Northeast scored 11 of the final 15 points in the half to get to within one at 23-22 on a layup by Eleascia Douglas with 1:17 remaining. But Lakeview led 25-22 at halftime. The Vikings struggled to gain any momentum in the third quarter, scoring just one point in the first 51/2 minutes.
Northeast missed its first nine shots from the field and didn’t get a field goal until Kight scored on a layup. In between, Lakeview extended its lead to double digits. The Vikings cut the lead to six, but got no closer.
“They were so big, and we it took a little time to get used to that,” Ryann Cotton said. “We had to use our quickness. We were able to get behind them on offense and defense. We got better as the game went on. A lot of people doubted us because of the season we’ve had. We played a tough schedule, and that prepared us.”
Lakeview led by nine going into the fourth quarter and didn’t let up, outscoring Northeast 14-7 to close the game.
“When we took over (as coaches) in mid-January these girls could have packed it in,” Felder said. “The fact that they stuck with it and won five games to close out district and then a playoff game speaks to the character they have.”