The Lookout Valley boys' basketball team overcame a sluggish first half, a familiar foe and home-court advantage all at once Tuesday to claim its eighth straight victory. The Yellow Jackets rallied for their fourth win over Signal Mountain in as many meetings this season, claiming a 54-39 Region 3-A semifinal win at Signal Mountain.
Earlier, state-ranked Arts & Sciences continued to look like a team destined to return to the state tournament, rolling past Van Buren County 59-37. Arts & Sciences will play Lookout Valley for the boys' region title Thursday at Signal Mountain at 7.
After a one-day weather delay, the girls' semifinals also were held Tuesday at Signal Mountain, with Marion County beating Copper Basin 57-48 and Whitwell holding off Arts & Sciences 39-38. Those county rivals will play for a fourth time this season, tonight at 7 at Signal for the region championship.
After scoring just five points in the first quarter, and giving up eight in the final 1:31 to trail at halftime, Lookout Valley took control in the third, outscoring the host Eagles 13-2, then continued to pull away.
"I couldn't be prouder of the way these guys have come along lately," Yellow Jackets coach Joe Galloway said. "It's awfully tough to beat a good team three times, much less four and at their place.
"They're a good transition team, so we just had to keep everything in front of us and make them work to score and not give up open shots. I thought our guys did a great job of that."
The Arts & Sciences boys never trailed and Alex Stallion's 3-pointer early started a 9-0 run that put them in control. CSAS had a double-digit lead by the end of the first and the Eagles never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
"We knew they could shoot the ball, so we wanted to stay on them close and jump on them early to take away any hope they had," said Patriots senior guard Sharif Cobb, who led all scorers with 20 points. "There's a little pressure in this game because it's lose and go home and our goal is to get back to the state tournament. This round is always tough because you know you have to win to keep playing."
Halle Ware had 19 points to lead Whitwell (23-9), but CSAS had opportunities late in the game to regain the lead. The Lady Tigers have lost all three previous meetings with Marion.
After scoring just four points in the first quarter, and trailing to begin the second half, Marion got a spark from Kayla Brown, who scored 10 of her 16 points in the third quarter to put the Lady Warriors ahead. Keta Robinette led all scorers with 21 points and also had 10 rebounds, nine steals and six assists, while Brown also grabbed 10 rebounds for Marion (21-9).