With the Sand Mountain Tournament championship on the line, No. 2-seeded Section tipped off with thunderous momentum, putting No. 1 Plainview at an early deficit.

But the Bears found their groove in the second half, as Cole Millican and Jonah Williams combined for 43 points to help yield a 76-55 victory and earn Plainview its sixth consecutive SMT championship in Higdon on Thursday night.

“It’s just an attribute to our program, our parents, our commitment. Our guys have bought into playing the game a certain way and preparing a certain way,” Bears head coach Robi Coker said of his team winning the tournament for a sixth straight time. “Anytime you can be crowned champion, it’s something you should appreciate and I’m just thankful that I’m able to coach this group of guys.”

Millican scored 23 points with seven rebounds and was named tournament MVP. Williams shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range and finished with 20 points while collecting nine rebounds and earning all-tournament team honors. Dylan Haymon added 13 points and six rebounds, Sawyer Fraley chipped in six rebounds and Luke Smith was named to the all-tournament team.

Jacob Cooper scored three of his five 3-point baskets in the opening period, as the Lions (13-4) shot 6 of 9 from 3-point range to take a 23-19 lead by quarter’s end. Cooper led Section with 23 points and Logan Patterson added 10 points. 

“Section hit us in the mouth. They bloodied us early,” Coker said. “Jacob Cooper was on a mission.”

Patterson had a putback score with 29 seconds left in the half to give the Lions a 33-32 edge at intermission.

“I thought they did a great job making us earn our baskets early,” Coker said. “They pressed up on us. It was a physical game early. Anytime you make six 3s in a quarter, you put the other team on their heels. They made us fight back and they should be commended for it. It was a great effort from them as well.”

Plainview (12-4) was shaken but settled into the game in the third quarter and unleashed its brand of basketball, spreading the floor and finding open shooters while keeping defensive pressure on Section.

Ty Griggs assisted Millican with a 3-pointer with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, giving the Bears the lead for good at 44-42. They closed the period with a 7-2 run and extended their lead to 61-46.

“Just a fitting end for this group. They found a way to win the game,” Coker said. “We didn’t play our best early, but it’s a 32-minute game. We challenged our guys to come out in the second half with great intensity and effort. We settled in and started to win the game possession by possession.

“We got great shots, we shared the ball, then we had several stops, got a couple of turnovers and forced tough shots.”

With the completion of the Sand Mountain Tournament, the following DeKalb County players received all-tournament accolades: Josh Scott (Sylvania); Eli Butts (Fyffe); Jesse Massey (Ider); Austin Shirley (Ider); Jaxon Colvin (Geraldine).

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