Senior Osmar Garcia-Araujo led the Lanier Longhorns boys basketball team to victory over South Paulding in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA State Playoffs on Saturday night, Feb. 25 at Lanier High School. Garcia-Araujo was near unstoppable racking up 24 points in the 67-55 win over the Spartans.
Lanier (25-4) and South Paulding (22-8) had a fierce battle the entire game as the two teams traded the lead several times. Both sides had missed shots that the other team got the rebound and turned them into points.
When asked what head coach Branden Mayweather told his team to keep them focused and in the game, he said, “I just kept talking to them every timeout, every dead ball, just trying to speak confidence back into them so that they realize like ‘Hey, we can do this’ because it’s more people in this atmosphere everybody knows what’s on the line so you have to really do a good job of settling all the players down.”
His approach worked as Lanier pulled away from South Paulding by double digits a few times in the second half. However, the Spartans never gave up. They looked for any weakness in the Longhorns that they could exploit and they were able to pull within two points of Lanier early in the fourth quarter.
After the Spartans got within two points of the Longhorns, Lanier kicked it up a notch and were able to out score South Paulding 15-5 to win the game 67-55.
“I’m so proud of the guys. I mean they work so hard, they believe,” said Mayweather. “They have worked to get better all week long and I’m so proud of them because it showed tonight.”
Standouts for Lanier were Garcia Araujo (24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two blocks), Tahai Morgan (16 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal) and Jayce Nathaniel (14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks).
Lanier advances to the Elite Eight where they will host Grovetown on Wednesday night, Mar. 1.
“I’m excited to get back to work with these guys on Monday because they truly love each other and love playing for each other,” said Mayweather.
FEATURED PHOTO: Lanier’s Osmar Garcia-Araujo scores 24 points against South Paulding in round two of the GHSA Class AAAAAA State Championship playoffs on Saturday night, Feb. 25 at Lanier High School. Photo by Alicia Payne.