BOSSIER CITY —After watching a six-point lead nearly disappear in the final 15 seconds, Farmerville senior guard Xairius Larry couldn’t bear to look at how the final hundredths of a second in the Farmers’ Class 3A semifinal matchup against 23rd-seeded Parkview Baptist shook down.
“I just closed my eyes,” Larry said.
When Parkview Baptist guard Reed Vial’s desperation heave from just inside the midcourt stripe barely missed the iron at the final horn, the Farmers avoided a shocking finish and booked a spot in the state championship game for the first time in school history.
“They probably think they can beat the Lakers right now — that they own the town of Farmerville,” Farmers coach Johnny Simmons said after his team’s 58-56 in the LHSAA North Regional victory at the CenturyLink Center .
The Farmers will face Carroll for the Class 3A championship later this week in Monroe. Carroll defeated Bossier 53-51 in triple overtime.
Even though Farmerville (22-6), the No. 3 seed, didn’t hit a shot in the final 2:21, several Farmers took turns with the hot hand to keep Parkview Baptist (17-14) at bay.
“They hit some big shots,” Eagles coach Don Green said.
None bigger than back-to-back 3-pointers from Farmerville senior guard Dontario McNeal midway through the fourth quarter, when the Eagles found their rhythm.
Parkview trailed by as much as 12 late in the first half but stormed to a 35-34 advantage less than two minutes into the second half.
The Farmers quickly regained the lead, one they kept for most of the second half. Parkview Baptist cut the deficit to one once and two another time in the final four minutes of the, but McNeal bailed out his teammates from long distance and restored the advantage.
“Not only the fact that he hit them,” Green said, “but where he hit them. He made them from the corners, which is typically the toughest shot in the game.”
Parkview Baptist wasn’t finished. A frantic final minute featured several Farmerville turnovers. When Tyler Hopkins missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Eagles put the ball in the hands of Vial, who led his team with 15 points. He came within inches of making it 18.
Farmerville 6-foot-2 forward DeAndre Elliott led all scorers with 18 points. Larry chipped in 15 while McNeal posted 10. Will Jones (11) and Matthew Starkey (10) also reached double figures for Parkview Baptist.
James Thompson collected eight points and 14 rebounds for the Eagles.
“Our shooting today, in this venue, in this environment, was outstanding,” Simmons said.
“I have to pinch myself. Farmerville has been waiting a long time for this.”