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Louisa Lions dominate Region 4B tourney

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Mark Carter shoots a layup during Louisa’s regional semifinal game against Hanover on Feb. 22. Carter finished the night with seven points.

The 2019 Louisa Lions boys’ basketball team continued their postseason run this week with a clean sweep of the Virginia High School League’s Region 4B championship tournament, the school’s first regional title since 1994.

Hosting the Courtland Cougars for the title game on Feb. 25, the Lions opened the game with a 13-0 run, with juniors Xavien Hunter and Issac Haywood combining for nine of those points. By the end of the first quarter, the Lions held a 16-6 lead over the Cougars.

“We said in the locker room that if we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out hard,” senior Chris Shelton said.

Senior Reggie Cosby opened the second quarter with a three-point bucket for Louisa, followed shortly by one from Shelton to boost Louisa to 22-8. Hunter added eight points for the quarter as the Lions kept well ahead of the Cougars, leading 36-21 at halftime.

The Lions continued to hold the advantage throughout the second half, holding off a Courtland surge and quickly making up the ground in large part due to nine fourth-quarter points from Haywood as he reached his game-high total 19 points for Louisa.

Shelton added nine points in the second half and junior Jarett Hunter went eight-for-eight from the foul line as the Lions fought to their final score of 77-53.

“When you get to this point, you know you’re going to be facing good teams,” head coach Robert Shelton said. “There aren’t going to be any blowouts. It’s going to be a dogfight. We knew we had to play hard and we were able to come out with the win tonight.”

Shelton, who was a senior on Louisa’s 1994 regional championship team, praised the team for their performance, not just against Courtland, but through the entire season.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season, so for these kids to accomplish what they have says a lot about them,” he said.

Behind Haywood’s 19, Xavien Hunter and Chris Shelton each scored 16 points for the Lions. Jarett Hunter added 12.

Regional Semifinals

Before getting to the championship game, the Lions hosted Hanover High School on Feb. 22 for the Region 4B semifinal game.

The Lions dominated the scoring for most of the first quarter, outscoring the Hawks 18-1 for the first seven minutes of the game, led largely by a trio of three-point baskets from Xavien Hunter. A pair of late buckets by the Hawks cut the Lions’ lead to 18-6 by the end of the quarter.

“We don’t always start off well in back-to-back games,” the coach said. “It was good to see that energy there from the start.”

Keeping the momentum up in the second quarter, Chris Shelton put up eight of the team’s 23 points. Jarett Hunter and senior Mark Carter each added five as the Lions pulled ahead to a 41-17 halftime lead.

The Hawks found their offensive footing in the second half, putting up 22 points in the third quarter. Louisa was able to stay ahead of them with their 24 points, led by Chris Shelton with a pair of three-point shots, and Jarett Hunter with five points.

The Hawks kept up their attack in the fourth quarter, outscoring Louisa 40-27 to cut what had been a 25-point lead to a 10-point lead by the one-minute mark. Led by eight points from Haywood, who was fresh off of his VHSL state triple jump win in the indoor track championship that afternoon, the Lions held off the attack and won the game 92-77.

“We knew that they [Hanover] were going to make a run,” Robert Shelton said. “That run just happened to come in the fourth quarter. I’m just happy that we were able to hold them for three-and-a-half quarters.”

Chris Shelton led the Lions’ scoring with a game-high 25 points, followed by Xavien Hunter with 22. Jarett Hunter had 17 and Haywood had 14.

(Article by Joseph Haney)

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s Feb. 28, 2019 issue.

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