After No. 6 Lake Clifton surrendered its lead for the first time midway through the third quarter of Saturday's Class 2A North regional final against No. 7 Edmondson, the Lakers turned up the pressure.
With its defense focused and Edmondson forced into off-balance jumpers, Lake Clifton turned a close game into a decisive, 72-53 victory before a raucous overflow home crowd.
Aaron Parks had 25 points and Lionel Green added 20 for the Lakers, who will play South Carroll in Friday's 9 p.m. state semifinal at Comcast Center.
"We just went hard and finished with composure," Parks said. "We just work so hard in practice. I just want to cry right now. We put in the effort, and the time and that's what gave us the win today."
The game involved some controversy involving the number of fouls on Edmondson junior Darrius Walker, who was dominant throughout the game. Walker had 24 points when he was called for what the official scoring book said was his fifth foul with 5:47 left in the game.
The Red Storm trailed by five at the time, and coach Darnell Dantzler and his scorekeeper said Walker had only four fouls, which would have kept him in the game. After a discussion, the officials ruled Walker had five fouls, and he was disqualified.
"Everybody had him with four. The book was wrong. He had four fouls," Dantzler said. "I never let a kid get three fouls in the first half. He had two fouls and then I sat him down. It totally changed the game. He was on fire, and he is my leader."
Edmondson trailed 37-30 at the half. But the Red Storm opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run and took a 43-39 lead. Lake Clifton then scored nine consecutive points to retake control of the game. After Walker fouled out, the Lakers pulled away, closing the game with a 14-3 run in the final four minutes.
"We made some adjustments and turned the defense up," Lake Clifton coach Herman "Tree" Harried said. "My hat's off to Edmondson. I knew Coach Dantzler would have them prepared. I have a lot of respect for what he has done with that program. We just stepped up our game. It was a group effort."
Isaiah Tripp scored 19 points for Edmondson. Daquan Ross finished with 12 points for Lake Clifton.
Class 2A North Final
No. 6 Lake Clifton 72, No. 7. Edmondson 53
E—Lane 3, Walker 24, Tripp 19, McClain 2, Hubbard 1, Dowery 2, Battle 2. Totals: 17 8-16 53.
LC—Green 20, Boone 8, Parks 25, Ross 12, Henson 7. Totals: 23 22-33 72.