From Staff Reports
TYLER – After having their championship dreams shattered by Grapeland in the 2021 regional finals, the LaPoynor Flyers turned the tables on the Sandies in this year's regional quarterfinals.
LaPoynor withstood a late rally by the Sandies to win 72-60 last Tuesday night and advance to the Region III tournament.
Last year, Grapeland knocked off LaPoynor 75-57 in the regional final to earn a berth in the state tournament.
LaPoynor, ranked No. 10 in the final TABC state poll, led 22-14 after a quarter and took a 41-28 halftime lead.
LaPoynor threatened to blow the game wide open after taking its biggest lead of 17 points midway through the third, but the Sandies rattled off a 9-0 run consisting of three consecutive treys.
Trailing 51-34, Johnny Lamb sparked a flurry of triples and then thwarted LaPoynor’s next possession with a steal. Sandie fans were able to breathe a little easier after Cole Goolsby heaved in back-to-back treys that cut the deficit to eight, 51-43, with 2:20 left in the third.
LaPoynor went back up by 13 before Lakerina Smith hit a late basket to make it 56-45 at the end of three.
The Flyers opened the fourth quarter with a trey but Grapeland closed the gap to eight with 3:45 left on three consecutive treys – one by Johnny Lamb and two by Goolsby.
LaPoynor closed out the third with a 5-2 stretch to push its lead to 56-45.
After the Flyers took a 61-48 lead, the Sandies trimmed it to single digits on back-to-back treys by Goolsby and Riley Murchison.
With the lead cut 61-54 with 3:45 left, LaPoynor called a time-out and then worked the ball to big man Dijuan Whitehead for a layup to push the lead to nine.
Whitehead fouled out on LaPoynor’s next possession with a minute left when Lamb took a charge.
A Cadarian Wiley bucket made it a seven-point ball-game, but the Sandies would get no closer down the stretch.
After falling behind by 10, Murchison made it 67-59 with 1:30 left but LaPoynor hit four of four free throws in the final 25 seconds to ice the win.
Murchison, a junior, led Grapeland (28-11) with 20 points and six rebounds. Junior Omarian Wiley recorded a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Goolsby, a junior, had nine points, followed by junior Johnny Lamb with eight, senior Lakerina Smith with six points and seven rebounds, and senior Cadarian Wiley with four points and seven rebounds.
Goolsby drained three triples while Murchison and Lamb hit two apiece.
The Flyers advanced to the Class 2A Region III tournament at Athens where they knocked off No. 4 Timpson 60-59 and then edged Beckville 76-71 Saturday to punch their ticket to the Final Four.
LaPoynor (33-6) faces Clarendon (29-2) in the state semifinals Friday at 10 a.m. in San Antonio. Lipan (38-0) and Mumford (31-7) are paired in the other semifinals matchup at 8:30 a.m. The 2A championship games is 1:30 p.m. Saturday.