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FAIRBURN (GA) – Landmark Christian senior Micah McAllister had the best individual performance but the Lovett Lions were better collectively.
McAllister scored a game-high 30 points, including five 3-pointers, in the War Eagles’ 70-64 home loss to Lovett in a non-region contest January 5.
Guiding the Lions to their eighth win of the season, Nick Jackson, who made a living laying the ball up, led the way with 21 points. Ryan Mutombo, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, added 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, and Zach Minetola scored 10 points.
“Ryan is continuing to get better and it’s always nice to have a rim protector back there,” Lovett coach Mike Harner said.
With Landmark’s second-leading scorer Nathan Orr unable to participate, McAllister, who has a very quick release on his jump shot, didn’t hesitate when he got a good look at the basket. In the first half, he scored 18 points to push the War Eagles ahead on the scoreboard and keep them close when Lovett took the lead.
Despite not scoring in the opening quarter, Jackson shifted the game in the Lions’ favor in the second quarter when he personally produced an 8-2 run (all on layups) to close the half and give Lovett a 33-28 advantage at the half.
“Nick is going to Virginia to play football so he’s not afraid of contact,” Harner said. “He’s a four-year starter for us. He’s strong around the rim and not afraid to attack the basket. We’re happy to have him.”
After the break, Lovett’s defense began to slow down McAllister’s production, and due to Ryan Mutombo’s presence in the paint, the War Eagles entered the fourth quarter down nine.
“We started switching on [McAllister] during dribble handoffs and ball screens,” Harner said. “I thought our kids did a really good job competing and we tried to make him a driver in the second half and we did a good job of that. He’s a good ball player. He’s got a quick shot.”
“Nathan has been sick and missed the last two games and we played a really hard, close game last night and we just kind of ran out of gas in the second half,” Landmark Christian coach Chip McAllister said. “Micah gets defended really hard. They plus one him. They switch every screen so he’s getting really tired in the second half of games. I think he kind of ran out of gas. He took a couple of off-balance shots because he was really tired and when you are tired you start making bad decisions like that.”
During the final eight minutes, Jackson Barnes (nine points) found his rhythm on the offensive end, even converting a pair of floaters over the outstretched arms of the 6-9 Mutombo, but Nick Jackson continued to shoot a high percentage near the basket to keep the visitors ahead comfortably until the final buzzer.
“We will start off games and play really good man and we stop the ball and then as the game goes on we start letting people get to the rim,” Chip McAllister said. “We’ve done that pretty much all year. We’re not getting in help defense very well and we’re just kind of staying by our man and getting our bigger guys in foul trouble. That is something we really have to work on because it is hurting us right now.”