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Lawrence wins title

MERRY HILL – Saturday was a day of redemption.

Lawrence Academy’s junior varsity basketball team has held a share of the Tarheel Independent Conference championship for both years of Tommy Tripp’s tenure as coach.

The Warriors, however, came up short in last year’s tournament, losing in the championship game. They were determined not to suffer that same fate upon reaching the TIC title game this season.

They didn’t have to worry this season, however, as Daniel Oliver poured in 19 points and led the Warriors to a 50-35 win over Hobgood Academy in the finals.

“We were just delighted,” Tripp said afterwards. “We have won the regular season twice, but this time we wanted to make sure it carried over in the tournament championship.

“I wanted our tenth graders to be able to move to the varsity with this win as the way they went out,” he added.

The first quarter of the contest was a close contest as each time Lawrence scored, the Raiders answered.

It started with a T.J. Johnston hoop and then the Warriors got a bucket from Shane Stevens and a triple by Chad Whitehead and a basket from Oliver, but all were answered by the Raiders.

Lawrence got some breathing room when Whitehead and Holden Ratzlaff hit back-to-back buckets to end the first quarter with the Warriors ahead 13-9.

Hobgood whittled the lead to 17-15 with 2:28 to play in the second period, but Oliver hit a triple and a free throw and Ratzlaff added a bucket to give Lawrence a 23-15 halftime lead.

The Raiders trimmed the lead to six (25-19) late in the third period, but Lawrence again responded with a solid run to close out the period.

Ratzlaff, Oliver, Johnston and Whitehead all got scores in the final two-plus minutes to help Lawrence grab a 33-19 lead heading into the final period. There, they held on for the victory.

“We played four quarters of defense as well as any night this season,” Tripp said. “Our offense didn’t click exactly like we hoped, but I’ll take 50 while giving up 35 any night.”

In addition to Oliver’s 19 points, the Warriors got seven from both Ratzlaff and Tyler McGrady, six from Whitehead, five from Johnston and two each from Stevens, Alec Roberson and Dylan Ralph.