SUGAR HILL — Lanier held a hobbled Dacula to a season-low offensive output in a 42-27 victory at home Friday.
Dacula was without its Super Six sophomore forward Lazaria Spearman and senior point guard Nyla Moore sat down with a shoulder injury in the second half. Spearman left town suddenly due to an illness in the family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her,” Lanier head coach Tim Slater said of Spearman. “You never want to play a team without their best player, especially under these circumstances. We want to make sure she comes back and we see her in the region tournament. She's a great kid and we hate that she's not here.”
Both teams had to adjust on the fly to her absence and it showed in a first half that finished 13-11 on a smooth go-ahead floater from Lanier senior Morgan Manley.
Dacula (20-3, 7-1) grabbed a 14-13 lead on a 3-pointer from Moore, but the Longhorns quickly answered and pulled steadily away.
“The first half was two teams that were really tight,” Slater said. “Our game plan went completely out the window. We were trying to figure it out. Defensively, we held them to 11 points in the first half so I couldn't be mad. It was a good job.
“This group is learning on the fly. I only have one girl who started on that state championship team back. They're learning and growing. They're a great bunch of kids to coach. They listen and the results are there.”
Senior Zuriyah Davis drained a long trey for a 16-14 Lanier lead and Dacula head coach Jason Adams called for timeout with 5:16 left in the third quarter. Moore went to the bench and had her shoulder checked by the staff. The longtime starting point guard returned for a couple of short stints and was clearly hurting.
Once Lanier (14-9, 7-1) stretched its lead to double digits, she remained on the bench and walked off the court with an ice bag taped on.
“We were trying to guess what they might do (sans Spearman) and adjust coverage,” Slater said. “Once we figured that out in the second half, we were able to and it got Davis open.
“She's a heck of a player. She's going to be really, really good for somebody at the next level. She's got a 3.8 GPA and high ACT score. Great kid. Great family. She's going to be really good for somebody and right now she's really good for us.”
Davis finished with a game-high 21 points. Manley also was in double figures with 11.
Dacula was led by senior Jin Sileo, who is headed to Georgia Tech to play softball in the fall, with nine points. Keyanna Gibbs and Moore each had eight. The Falcons won the previous two meetings between the teams — 45-42 on Jan. 7 and 51-47 in a nonregion matchup during the Andrew Johnson Classic on Dec. 31.
The teams are tied atop the 8-AAAAAA standings with two games remaining. Neither could fall to third before the region tournament begins.