Pike Lib sweeps area tourney

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 3, 2002

Sports Editor

Following their Class AAA East Area 1 semifinal game on Friday night, Pike Liberal Arts School boy’s basketball player Druid Conrad didn’t know exactly how long it had been since the Patriots beat Lee-Scott Academy on the hardwood.

"I think it’s been like four years," said Conrad.

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But it’s a pretty safe bet that the Warriors, who came into the game as area champs and ranked fourth in the state, will remember the last time they lost to the Patriots.

Conrad scored 15 points and PLAS also got double-digit efforts from Michael DiChiara (14 points) and Layton Sanders (11 points) as the Patriots knocked off Lee-Scott, 52-39, advancing to the tournament championship on Saturday.

The Patriots (12-13) continued their unlikely run toward state by coming from ten down to beat Macon-East 52-45 in the title game. A complete recap of that game, as well as the Lady Patriots 48-34 tournament title win over Lee-Scott, will be in Tuesday’s Messenger.

The Warriors (19-5), by virtue of their region title, will move on to play in the East Regional Tournament at Faulkner University next weekend.

Pike led by as many as 15 points in the first half, before Lee-Scott rallied in the second to pull within five points of the lead, 25-20, early in the third quarter.

But unlike in the previous two losses this season to the Warriors, the Patriots refused to fade away.

Pike Lib closed the third quarter on a 14-6 run, upping their lead to 39-26 as the quarter came to a close. The run was highlighted by a Brandon Hooks putback off teammate Layton Sanders’ airball three-point attempt a steal and fastbreak basket by Sanders, and DiChiara being in the right place at the right time to grab another offensive board for a jumper in the lane.

Rebounding was the name of Pike’s game on Friday night.

Sanders hauled in a team-high nine boards, while Jared Waldrop and Conrad each pulled down eight.

"We knew we had to get on the boards," said Conrad. "They’ve (Lee-Scott) got big (Allen) Ponder down low and we knew we couldn’t let him get going down there."

The 6-foot-4 Ponder finished the game with 22 points to lead the Warriors, after being held to just five in the first half by PLAS. His three-pointer in the final seconds of the second quarter cut the Patriots lead to 24-14 going into the locker room. The Patriots led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, when DiChiara opened the next by knocking down back-to-back three-pointers and taking a give-and-go in for a layup, pushing the Patriots lead to 22-7.

"I gave them Wednesday off, because I got mad at them and they didn’t look like they had their shooting legs up under them," said Pike head coach Paul Kirchharr. "But we shot the ball really well tonight."

Conrad agreed.

"We always seem to shoot the ball better when we’re at home," he said.

The Lady Patriots, crowned girls East Area 1 champions at the close of the regular season, played like the title winners on Friday night, defeating Macon-East 66-39 in the girls semifinal contest.

Beth Anderson scored 18 points, grabbed eight boards and dished off four assists, as Pike Lib outscored the Lady Knights 22-6 in the first quarter.

Rae Pinckard led the Lady Patriots on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds, while scoring eight points. Lindy Lunkenheimer scored 15 points and Karli Tribe added 14.

The Lady Patriots will play Fort Dale in the first round of the East Region Tournament on Friday at Faulkner University in Montgomery. Game time is at 10:30 a.m.

The Patriots will take the court at noon against AAA East Area 2 runner-up Morgan Academy.