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Patriots snag state title

State championships seem to be commonplace at Pike Liberal Arts after 30-plus years without one.

The No. 2-seed Pike Liberal Arts JV boys’ basketball team snagged the school’s second state title Saturday in Auburn with a 24-21 victory over No. 1-seed Lee-Scott in the championship game.

“We didn’t play great in the first two games, but we were able to pull out the championship,” PLAS head coach Bob Pickett said. “They all bought into what we were trying to do and they stepped up in a pressure situation. I am so proud of how our guys responded to the adversity and played as a team tonight.”

Nick McLaughlin was a force to be reckoned with all game and led the Patriots (15-2) with seven points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots to garner tournament MVP honors.

Pickett said McLaughlin was a key part of all three victories for Pike Saturday, but he said one player in particular had a huge effort in the title game.

“Lawson Stewart does not play much for us, but he came off the bench and hit two threes tonight,” Pickett said. “Without those buckets we would not have won the game.”

The two baskets were Stewart’s only points, but Pickett said they were huge.

Michael Maestri added four points, 15 rebounds and two steals against Lee-Scott. Chan Avant had four points and two rebounds.

The loss was only the second of the season for Lee-Scott. The other loss was to the Patriots on that same floor earlier in the season.

To get to the championship game, Pike had to knock off No. 7-seed Glenwood 29-26 in the first round and No. 3-seed Prattville Christian in the second round.

Pike took out Glenwood with 11 points and 13 rebounds from McLaughlin and nine points and two rebounds from Stewart Pinckard.

Avant added five points and Maestri again had four points.

Pinckard led the Patriots against Prattville Christian with nine points and five rebounds.

McLaughlin had eight points and 12 rebounds.

Maestri chipped in four points and eight rebounds.

Pinckard and Maestri were named to the All-Tournament team with McLaughlin.