By Jason Pugh • email@example.com
HAUGHTON — Akeem Johnson helped Lakeside build what most in Haughton's gym thought was an insurmountable lead Wednesday.
Parkway, however, had other ideas.
Fortunately for Johnson, the Warriors were able to get the ball to their captain.
Living up to his title, Armon Wallace connected on six free throws in the final 30.8 seconds to lift Lakeside to a 80-73 victory over Parkway in the opening round of the Bossier Federal Credit Union Jack Clayton Invitational.
"Armon is our captain and we wanted him to have the ball as much as possible," Lakeside coach Jason Gould said. "You saw what he did with his free throws."
Wallace finished with 19 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Lakeside (3-4) needed every one of those points as Parkway (1-3) woke up after three sluggish quarters to threaten the Warriors, who entered the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead.
The Panthers quickly cut into the Lakeside lead, piecing together a 16-0 run in the first 3:04 of the quarter. Wallace hit one of two free throws at the 4:56 mark to finally snap the drought and spark an 8-0 Lakeside run over the next 1:19, which re-established a double-digit lead.
"It was tough, but I had to play through it," Wallace said of early foul trouble that kept him out for much of the first half. "I just picked my spots (late) to get in position to get fouled and make free throws to put the game away."
Even after Lakeside rebuilt its sizeable advantage, Parkway still had life. Joe Bell's 3-pointer at the 1:06 mark of the fourth quarter made it a four-point game before Lakeside got Wallace to the line time and again in the final minute. Bell finished with 24 points while teammate Mike Evans led Parkway with a game-high 28 points
"We tried to come back from 22 points down and we cut loose," Parkway coach Brian Rayner said. "We were running and jumping and trapping and getting rotations where we needed to get them. We got steals and 3s. Things were happening in the right way for us. I just hate that we didn't play that way the first three quarters of the game.
"If we play hard and play as well as we did in the fourth quarter, then maybe the outcome's a little bit different."
Johnson, Lakeside's 6-foot-5 post presence, had plenty to do with altering the first 24 minutes of the game. The left-hander scored 18 of his 22 points in the first three quarters while controlling the glass.
Despite scoring only four points in the second half, Johnson made his presence felt, pinning one early second-half Parkway shot against the backboard.
Behind the big man's big first half, Lakeside took a 17-point lead into halftime.
"I think he's around 6-5, 235, 240 pounds and our biggest kid is 6-2, 195 pounds," Rayner said. "It's hard for us to get in there and battle him. We wanted to full front him later in the game after he basically annihilated us in the first half. We made that adjustment and made it pretty well, but he's a big body with soft hands, who can catch the ball and shoot that little jumper off the glass.
"He gave us a lot of trouble."
Courtesy of the Shreveport Times