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Cougars look to complete perfect season

Lafayette Christian closing in on state title

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

Seniors Jemi Reed, Marcus Mobley, Clay Kelley, Sam Marshall and Antaveis Sands will try to lead Lafayette Christian School’s basketball team to a state championship this weekend. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/02/web1_cougars1-2.jpgSeniors Jemi Reed, Marcus Mobley, Clay Kelley, Sam Marshall and Antaveis Sands will try to lead Lafayette Christian School’s basketball team to a state championship this weekend. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

LAGRANGE – They’re two wins from perfection.

The Lafayette Christian School Cougars will carry an unbeaten record into today’s game against Westminster Christian Academy in the semifinals of the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association boys’ basketball state tournament.

If the Cougars win today, they would play either North Georgia Christian or Arlington Christian in Saturday’s championship game.

The final four is being played at Gordon State College in Barnesville.

Today’s game against Westminster is set for 6 p.m., and Saturday’s championship game tips off at 3 p.m.

The Cougars have steamrolled nearly every team on their schedule this season, and if they can notch two more wins, they’ll not only win a state championship, but they’ll do it with an unblemished record.

A year ago, the Cougars got knocked out in the first round of the state tournament, and senior Jemi Reed said the players used that loss as motivation.

“We had a goal, and that’s to win state,” Reed said. “We got put out last year, and we were determined from then that we would do more. We expected to do more.”

The Cougars have only had a handful of close games this season, and in the state tournament, they’ve beaten Peachtree Academy 96-39 and Eastgate Life Academy 82-34.

Just because things have been relatively easy so far doesn’t mean the players are taking anything for granted, though.

“We’re not overlooking anybody,” senior Marcus Mobley said. “Anyone can win in the game of basketball. Anybody can get upset.”

The Cougars get it done with an explosive offensive with weapons all over the court, as well as a pressure defense that usually overwhelms opponents.

Jarred Pike, Lafayette Christian’s first-year head coach, said the decision was made before the season to play at a fast tempo and let the players do what they do best.

“We’re going to press, work on the break, and just run people ragged,” Pike said.

Reed and Mobley are the Cougars’ top two scorers, and fellow senior Antavius Sands has been a prolific scorer as well in his first season on the team.

“We’re so competitive in practice, and we push each other so much,” Reed said. “When we play other teams, we just have fun.”

There are five seniors on the team hoping to go out with a championship.

In addition to Reed, Mobley and Sands, the other two seniors are Sam Marshall and Clay Kelley.

Four of the seniors, Reed, Sands, Marshall and Kelley, were members of the football team that won a state championship in December.

Now those players have a chance to win another ring.

With so many members of the basketball team having also played football, the players obviously know each other well, which Marshall said is a big plus.

“I think that’s part of our success,” Marshall said. “We’ve really banded together as a team this year. A lot of knew each other from football, so it kind of carried over from there. It’s really good chemistry now.”

One thing the basketball team has a chance to do that the football didn’t is finish with a perfect record, although Kelley said that’s not something the players have dwelled on.

“I don’t think we thought about it that much,” Kelley said. “I think we just play one game at a time, and look for the win every game.”

The competition figures to be tough this weekend since the tournament is down to the final four teams, and Sands said “we’re going to come out and play physical, play smart, and hopefully we’ll come out with a win.”

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports