By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
MOOREVILLE – Shannon started the first quarter of the Lee County Tournament boys championship game cold, scoring one point in five minutes.
But when the shots started falling, the Red Raiders started rolling. Shannon built as much as a 29-point lead before hanging on for a 72-62 victory over Saltillo for its second-straight county title.
Saltillo’s Jalon Gaston hit two straight layups with 2:12 to play in the first quarter to tie the game at 8-8.
On the return trip up the court, Lakee Westbrook knocked down a three-pointer that started a 25-3 run for the Red Raiders that encompassed six minutes of clock.
By the time Javon Green’s three ended the run, Shannon had upped its lead to 33-11.
“We got a couple turnovers there out in the passing lanes,” Shannon coach Cedric Brim said. “We got in transition and got some easy baskets.”
The Red Raiders (15-1) extended their 40-22 halftime lead in the third quarter. Lamarcus Doss and Westbrook kept the hot streak going with three three-pointers in an opening half 13-2 run, which also included a one-hand jam by Javonta Ivy.
Green’s final three of the night with 2:18 on the clock put Shannon up 62-33. The Red Raiders, who tallied 13 three-pointers in the game, led 67-41 after three.
“As of late, we’ve been shooting the ball pretty well,” said Brim. “Anytime we can get in transition and get some easy looks, that’s always a plus for us.”
Brim elected to sit his starters in the fourth, and Saltillo took advantage, outscoring the Red Raiders 21-5 in the final period.
Saltillo (6-12) closed Shannon’s lead to eight points with 50 seconds to play on a nice dunk from Gaston, but Marcus Thornton hit two free throws to put Shannon’s lead back to double-digits.
Gaston also had two more dunks in the fourth and finished with a game-high 23 points.
“He got going, Jalon’s a great athlete,” Saltillo coach Eddie Moreland said. “We finally got a group on the floor that were playing real well. We just had too far to come back from.”
The junior duo of Doss and Westbrook led Shannon, scoring 21 and 17 points, respectively.
(G) Nettleton 50, Saltillo 37: Nettleton avenged last year’s loss in the Lee County Tournament championship game in a battle of Lady Tigers.
Jabria Pounds scored 15 points to lead Nettleton (13-5), while Anna Letson scored 14 for Saltillo (4-12).