Hornets defeat Cardinals in playoffs

Published 6:26 pm Monday, February 21, 2011

Austin Brown works his way under the basket against the Johnson Hornet’s defense. Johnson eliminated the Cardinals from state playoffs. The young Landrum team, however, won its eighth region championship, the third in head coach Lyn Smith’s tenure. (photo by Lorin Browning)

The Landrum basketball team that experienced heartbreak Feb. 18 in a 54-40 loss to C.A. Johnson in the second round of the 1A state playoffs was not the Cardinals team that started the season.

The team that started the year was young and inexperienced. In fact, this was widely considered a rebuilding year for Landrum. The Cardinals shed that idea en route to the eighth region championship in team history.

The season, however, ended on Friday as the Hornets’ defensive intensity picked up in the second half, disrupting the fast-paced Landrum offense.

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“I thought we played better defense (in the second half),” Hornets coach Louis Dreher said. “That was the difference.”
It took that defensive intensity from the Hornets as the Cardinals’ offense took flight. The Cardinals were the faster, consistently attacking offense.

Led by the high energy of senior point guard Austin Brown, Landrum jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Brown wasn’t a top scorer for the Cardinals, but he was all over the floor defensively. In that stretch he forced four turnovers.

The Hornets came back and finished the first quarter with a 17-14 lead, but the Cardinals took over in the second quarter, when all of the Cardinals got into the action. Senior Tyler Logan had a fast break layup early and hit Mark Wilson with a pass under the basket for an assist. Aaron Bryant dished the ball to Jake Henson for an assist.

Landrum led 24-22 at the half with all the momentum. That momentum was lost in the third quarter. They maintained the same defensive intensity, but only hit one basket the entire third quarter.

“We couldn’t get good shots on the basket,” head coach Lyn Smith said. “The ones we did, they just wouldn’t go in for us.”

The offense got going again late in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. Truston Whiteside scored 8 points in the fourth and led the Cardinals with 14 points overall.
Gerald Shooks, Denzel Stroman and Jonathan Goodman led Johnson’s balanced offensive attack with 12 points each.

Landrum won Smith’s third region championship in six years and had only three seniors. That was an accomplishment Smith was proud of even as Friday’s defeat was fresh in his mind.

“We went through some growing pains, but they came together,” he said. “This team believed they could win every time they stepped on the court.”