Red Devils use third quarter burst to win first area title since 2007

Malik Strickland drives inside for a basket during the Red Devils' win over Russellville

How does the saying go? Live by the three, die by the three? 

Well how about just living , because that's exactly what Lawrence County did Friday night. 

The Red Devils defeated Russellville 66-56 in the finals of the class 5A area 14 tournament. The game was held at Hamilton High School. 

With the win they picked up their first area championship since 2007. 

How did they do it? 

Well much like the Auburn Tigers did so many times during their 2019 final four, the Red Devils used their press defense to force a few turnovers and on the fast break, instead of driving in the lane, they kicked out for open three point shots. 

Lawrence County hit five treys in the third period and built a lead that got up to as much as 14. They never trailed again and went on to win the game. 

"That was crazy. I'm not sure  what happened," said Senior Ty Hutto of the third quarter burst. "We ramped up our defense and forced some turnovers. Defense turned to offense like we've done all year long and all of a sudden we were rolling." 

Four Red Devils scored in double figures. Tayi Strickland led with 18 and Hutto had 15. Garrett Lee finished with 11 and Malik Strickland had 10. 

Lawrence County led by just a single point after the first and second quarters. Even after building a 14 point lead in the third, Russellville fought back just another to have Red Devil fans fidgeting in their seats. 

"We didn't play our best at times, but in the third quarter we sort of broke it open," said Lawrence County co head coach Royal Carpenter. "Bottom line is we have to finish. They started to come back a little and at the end we have to do a better job of hitting free throws. But, it was a big win and I'm very proud of them." 

A big win is right. Just a year ago they walked off the same court after a loss in the first round of the area tournament, finishing a disappointing 14-16. 

Fast forward a year later and they are 26-4, area champions and will host a sub regional game on Tuesday night. 

"This is amazing," Hutto said. "Growing up playing  basketball, this is everything I ever dreamed of when I imagined playing for this team." 

Lawrence County will host the loser of the East Limestone/Madison Academy game on Tuesday night. A chance at going to Wallace State for the first time since 2007 will be on the line. 

"That would be awesome," Hutto said. "Of course we would like to go farther but getting to Wallace, that's our goal." 

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