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West Charlotte Lions make 11 of 12 free throws in 4th quarter to take MECKA 8 4A title

West Charlotte’s boys’ basketball team used a stifling zone defense for three quarters and free throw shooting in the final period to turn back Concord Robinson 62-50 Thursday and win the MECKA 8 4A conference.

The Lions (20-3, 12-2 ) built a 39-30 lead entering the fourth quarter when both teams abandoned their 2-3 zones to increase the tempo. West Charlotte kept its composure, making 11 of 12 free throws in the final eight minutes.

“I thought our zone gave them a little trouble in the first half,” said West Charlotte coach Baronton Terry. “And in the second half I think they got tired at the end.”

Guard Malik Massey scored nine of his 13 points in the second half, including 6-of-6 free throw shooting in the final period. Isiah Blackmon led the Lions with 17 points, including 13 in the second half.

The Lions played patiently against Robinson’s zone, looking to attack the basket and feed the ball to 6-foot-8 center Simieon Carter, who finished with 11 points.

Carter had three dunks, two coming off lob passes. Robinson’s Conner Boothe and Jarod Jernigan effectively double-teamed him for most of the first half but Jernigan picked up three fouls in the first two minutes of the second half and was ineffective after that.

Robinson played mainly a perimeter game, settling for outside shots. Attempts to drive the basket were often thwarted by Carter’s presence.

Jordan McKenzie and Lavar Batts Jr. each had 14 points for the Bulldogs. Batts scored 11 in the fourth quarter when the tempo increased and played to the quick guard’s strengths.

Robinson’s largest lead was 17-13 when forward Daniel Spencer (11 points) made a layup with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the second quarter. West Charlotte scored eight of the next nine points to take the lead for good.

Massey made a 10-footer with eight seconds before halftime as the Lions took a 23-21 lead.

West Charlotte stretched its lead to 39-26 near the end of the third quarter when Michael Boone’s dunk highlighted an 8-0 run. But Robinson scored four points in the final 2.5 seconds on Jackson Raper’s two free throws and Batts’ layup after a steal.

Boothe’s 3-pointer and McKenzie’s floater helped Robinson cut its deficit to 43-37 with just over five minutes left but the Bulldogs never got any closer.

Robinson (18-6, 10-4) will enter next week’s conference tournament as the third seed. North Meck finished in second place in the regular season with an 11-3 mark.

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