The Flames were outrebounded 23-20 in the opening half and Bryan’s Brandon Cole tallied 13 of his 15 total points. Lee tightened the defensive screws on Cole and the rest of the Lions in posting their third straight victory, 66-58. The defense held the visitors to only 21 percent shooting from the field in the second half, and 30 percent for the game.
“They outplayed and outhustled us the entire first half,” said Lee assistant coach Ryan Ross. “We reminded our guys at halftime how we had to defend against Cole and we came out and played inspired ball the final 20 minutes.”
Ross gave credit to defenders Jay Marquette, Chad Lee and Tyquan Roberts for helping shut down the rugged Cole, who came into the contest averaging 21 points per game. “Those three were simply more physical and played with a lot of determination in the final half. Our entire team did a good job of taking away the many sets that Bryan likes to run,” he pointed out.
After scoring only eight field goals in the first half and converting just 10-of-18 free throws, the Flames shot 48 percent in the second 20 minutes and finished the contest by making 21-of-52 attempts (40 percent). However, Lee continued to struggle from the free-throw line, making just 23-of-41.
“We certainly have to shoot free throws better, because of the way the games are being officiated this year,” noted Ross. “We take extra time to work on free-throw shooting each day, but the bottom line is we are going to have to be more consistent in the games.”
After losing the battle of the boards in the first half, Lee regrouped and finally won the rugged rebounding struggle 45-44. The board work was led by Roberts who garnered 10. Valentino Thomas added seven.
Corey Billingsley continued to lead the Flames in the scoring department with 24 points. He made 8-of-12 field goal attempts and 7-of-11 free-throws. Thomas followed with 14 points and Brice Sharp gave the Flames a big lift with 11 points. It was Sharp who scored six straight points as Lee ran off to the seven-point advantage in the second half.
Robert Troino had 16 points to lead the Lions. Bryan Landers added 11. Cole had 14 rebounds to go along with his 15 points.
The Flames will turn their attention toward a much tougher venue on Friday and Saturday. They will travel to Young Harris, Ga., for the Peach Belt/Gulf South Challenge. Lee will face host Young Harris in the opener on Friday at 8:30 and will turn right around and test North Georgia on Saturday at 4:30.