Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 8, 2012

Lanier falls to Whitefield in state semifinals

MACON — For most of the second half of Wednesday night’s GHSA Class A semifinal against Lanier County, Whitefield Academy guard Kenneth Gaines was a non-factor on the offensive end of the floor, held to just four points after halftime until the game’s final three minutes.

In those final few minutes, however, the Georgia signee came up big when his teammates needed him most, hitting three clutch baskets to fend off a furious rally by an upstart Lanier County team for a 75-62 victory to advance to Saturday’s state title game against Athens Christian at the Macon Coliseum.

Gaines finished with 30 points, scoring 20 in the first half.

Emmanuel Ezoua’s play kept the Bulldogs (24-5), who were playing in the Final Four for the first time since 1992, in it, with the senior scoring 21 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Anthony Edmond added 16 for Lanier, but it wasn’t enough to top the WolfPack (28-3), who will make their seventh championship game appearance since 2002.  

Gaines and his teammates had what appeared to be a safe 62-49 lead entering the fourth quarter, one in which not Gaines, but his teammates sparked the WolfPack to a big scoring spurt to take control of the game. Leading 40-37 coming out of halftime, Whitefield took control with a 10-2 run, with three different WolfPack players, none of which were Gaines, scoring, giving Whitefield a 50-39 lead and 62-49 at the end of the quarter.

Lanier County, however, didn’t go away easily. In spite of a double-digit deficit, the Bulldogs went right to work. While Whitefield struggled from the field in the final quarter, not making a shot for close to five minutes, Lanier appeared to hit its stride, going on a 9-0 run, sparked by two quick Ezoua scores, to cut the WolfPack lead to 62-58.

That’s when the WolfPack, namely Gaines, stepped up.

A lay-up, followed by a free throw, put the WolfPack up 65-58, and two more quick scores by Gaines answered a lay-up by Ezoua for a 69-60 WolfPack lead, as time wound down and Whitefield earned a spot in the title game.

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