PONETO – Lakeland Christian Academy will go for its first boys basketball sectional title after its 59-43 win over Northfield in the semifinals of the Class 1A Southern Wells Sectional Friday night.

The victory is only the second boys basketball sectional win in the program’s short history, and tonight will be the first time the program will play for a sectional title.

Cougar freshman Seth Martin led the way with a double-double; 21 points and 14 rebounds. Cameron Shepherd had 17 and Landon Paris nine points.

Head coach Chris Hohm said his team took advantage of the time between the final regular season game two weeks ago and Friday night.

“We had the benefit of having plenty of time to prepare for this game. We had a good game plan, and used the time to practice against the 3-2 zone that Northfield uses,” he said.

“Our guys did a great job of executing the game plan. they played really well together and made good passes. Then we played really strong when they were trying to make a comeback, which got us to the line, where we shot a pretty high percentage. That always helps.”

LCA took a 38-31 lead into the fourth quarter, and held off the Norse with a 20-of-24 effort from the free throw line in the period. For the game, the Cougars went 27-of-37 at the charity stripe.

“I’m really proud of these guys for the focus and determination they had tonight. They battled on every possession and played together,” Hohm said.

The rest of the LCA scoring was done by Brayden Lane with six points, Peter Koller with four and Matthew Helton with two points.

Northfield junior Clayton Tomlinson came into the sectional averaging just under 13 points a game. He ended up with a season- and game-high 33 points, but made just one shot from beyond the arc.

“When we scouted them we saw they’re a really good three-point shooting team. So we tried to get our guys to buy in to winning the one-on-one battles and not being out of position and giving up a wide-open three,” Hohm explained.

“(Tomlinson) kept being aggressive, as he’s a good ballplayer. But it took him 29 shots to get his 33 points, and we were willing to let that happen and play good defense on the supporting cast.”

The Cougars (6-18) go for the title against tourney favorite Southwood (10-13). The Knights rolled to a 69-44 win over host Southern Wells in the night’s other semifinal.

Despite the quick turnaround, Hohm said he thinks the excitement and focus of the team will be something to be used as an advantage.

“We’re exited to be able to play for the championship. That’s a big moment for our school and in our program. Some of our other sports have been this far, but the boys basketball team has not,” he said

“Southwood is the best team in the sectional as far as regular season goes, and we’ll have to come out and give it our best shot.”

Game time in Poneto is 7:30 p.m.