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Junior guard Myles King (1) passes around Matthew Kelly of Central-Florence in the Red Devils' 64-63 win in the regional semifinals at Wallace State-Hanceville on Thursday.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Junior guard Myles King (1) passes around Matthew Kelly of Central-Florence in the Red Devils' 64-63 win in the regional semifinals at Wallace State-Hanceville on Thursday.

Lawrence advances on King's passes
Red Devils get late layups to oust Central-Florence

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com 340-2461

HANCEVILLE — Lawrence County's Myles King doesn't mind shooting, and his coach, Stanley Johnson, doesn't mind it, either, since King typically scores more than 20 points a game.

But Thursday at the Class 4A Northwest Regional, King showed he's willing to pass, too, and that helped lift the Red Devils to a 64-63 semifinal win over Central-Florence.

Lawrence County (24-9) will face Madison County in Saturday's finals at 2 p.m. The winner advances to the Final Four in Birmingham next week. The Red Devils never have won a Northwest Regional boys championship.

Four times against Central-Florence, King found Lawrence County's Chasten Echols free behind the defense on a fast break. In each instance, Echols converted King's simple bounce pass into a layup.

"I knew he was ahead of me, and I just got him the ball," said King, who had 18 points, five assists and a pair of steals. "I knew he would score. I have trust in him."

The King-to-Echols combination happened twice at the most critical juncture of the game.

With the teams tied at 55 with fewer than four minutes to play, King found Echols down the court on fast breaks two straight times to give the Red Devils a 59-55 advantage.

King followed with another fast-break pass to teammate Matthew Pugh for a 61-55 lead.

After that, Lawrence County never led by fewer than three points until Central's Dominique Minor sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"All week, we addressed their fast break," Central coach Duane Keener said. "We knew they could leak out and run on the fast break, and it's very uncharacteristic for our team to let that happen. I don't know why it happened now."

Echols' fast-break baskets were part of a 23-point day for the 5-foot-9 sophomore, who comes off the bench and entered with a 7-point scoring average.

Johnson often starts senior Will Inman at guard and uses Echols to give Inman an occasional rest. However, Central-Florence locked down on Inman, who is the Red Devils' 3-point shooting ace. Inman didn't make a single trey Thursday.

Echols' presence helped make the Lawrence County running game that much more effective.

"It's no secret that we like to run," Johnson said. "We don't do as well in the half-court offense, and we knew they would try to slow us down.

"Will is a great 3-point shooter, and he's made seven in a game and three or four in a quarter. But they played him so tight, he couldn't get anything going. We're comfortable with Chasten in the game, and he played well."

In addition to the points from Echols and King, the Red Devils got 10 points and 10 rebounds from Pugh. Cody Harville pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.

Trey Mitchell scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Central-Florence (25-6).

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