LEXINGTON — Brooks boys basketball coach Brian Wright is more of a defensive-minded, feed-the-post-on-offense kind of guy.
He doesn’t necessarily want his players firing away 3-pointers, but when they’re going in, he’s lenient about it.
So Wright felt OK about the way Brooks started in Friday’s 62-47 semifinal win against Rogers in the Lauderdale County tournament.
The defending tournament champion Lions (17-5) sank four of their first six 3s, opened up a 22-9 first-quarter lead and used a 15-3 first-half run to advance to the county championship game for the second straight season.
“We’ve turned into a shooting team,” Wright said. “When it goes in, it’s really nice. Our guys shot well tonight. I like to get the ball inside, but they like to shoot it. And I have confidence in our guards.”
Besides the lopsided score, Brooks’ quick start appealed to its coach on another level, as the Lions buckled down on defense.
Rogers had 14 first-half turnovers while shooting 7-of-25 from the field before halftime, and the Pirates went scoreless for a stretch of 5 minutes, 8 seconds from the field
Post player Latham Thompson’s basket with 1:39 left in the first quarter pulled Rogers within 16-8. The Pirates didn’t score from the field again until Brady Murks’ basket with 4:31 left in the second quarter.
Brooks led 39-16 at halftime.
“I was proud of the way we played defense, especially the first three quarters,” Wright said. “You have to win on the defensive end because offense isn’t going to be there. Skyler Beck, especially, did a good job covering their shooter, No. 1 (Caleb Morrow). We knew he was good.”
Skyler Beck made his first two 3s and finished with a team-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Morrow finished with a game-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, making 3 of 5 3-pointers. Thompson added 13 points for Rogers.
“It’s always nice to start off a game like that and get momentum,” Beck said. “The other night (in the first round), our shots weren’t falling like that and we had to work it more inside.
“Defensively, we really focused on 1 and 44 (Thompson) and were able to get some turnovers and easy baskets early.”
Jacob Richardson had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting for the Lions. Holden Corum (eight rebounds) and Canaan Sides added nine points each.
Brooks faces a rematch with Mars Hill (19-3) in the final today at 7:30 p.m. at Lexington. The Lions beat Mars Hill in last year’s championship game.
“It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be exciting,” Beck said of returning to the tournament final. “It wold be a great feeling to repeat. There’s something about the county tournament that’s special. Getting to the finals, you know you’ve done well.”
Mars Hill 90, Lauderdale Co. 47
Joe Wilson scored all of his team-high 16 points in the first half while sinking four of his first five 3-pointers, and Mars Hill cruised to a semifinal win with one of its better shooting performances of the season.
The Panthers shot 36-of-54 from the field, including 21-of-31 in the first half while building a 53-24 halftime lead.
All 10 Mars Hill players scored, and five reached double digits.
Landon Willis had 14 points to go with five rebounds, while front-court teammate Mark McWilliams added 12 points and six rebounds.
Ethan Smith finished with 13 points and five rebounds, and Harrison Chastain had 12 points.
“We shot the ball well and the kids that came off the bench were productive,” Mars Hill coach Mike Mitchell said. “At times they haven’t been. We had some early fouls, substituted some guys and they got right into the flow of it.”
Drew Newton scored a game-high 21 points to go with five rebounds and lead gritty first-quarter performance by the outmanned Tigers.
Lauderdale County trailed 19-13 after the first quarter, as Mars Hill ran into some early foul problems.
But the Panthers mounted a 15-4 run and took advantage of 20 first-half turnovers by the Tigers, who turned it over 21 times in all compared to Mars Hill’s nine.
The win sets up a rematch with Brooks for Mars Hill, which lost three times to the Lions last season, including the last county tournament final, but won the only meeting between the teams this season.
“We are excited about it, especially being able to play against Brooks,” Wilson said. “They beat us all year last year. I’m excited to play them, everybody else is excited to play them and I’m sure they’re excited to play us.”