After a whirlwind year, T.J. Davis and the Lakeside baseball team were finally able to relax.
The Panthers coach let his guard down long enough to be doused with ice after his team beat Josey 15-0 on Wednesday to clinch the Region 3-AAAA title.
"They tricked me into taking pictures," Davis said by phone Wednesday night. "All the coaches were in on it, too."
Davis knew after beating Harlem on Saturday and after some intense number-crunching, that his team held the tiebreaker over Westside should it have come to that.
Harlem beat Westside 13-8 on Wednesday to deny the Patriots the second seed and a home Class AAAA playoff series. Evans earned the No. 2 seed and the right to play host by owning the tiebreaker over both Harlem and Westside.
The only drama left for Lakeside's senior night, then, was to see whether it could shut out Josey, a team it beat 25-0 the first meeting.
After the win, the Panthers were announced to their home fans as region champions and posed -- and plotted -- for pictures.
At this time last year, the Panthers weren't sure who their coach would be this season.
They knew they had a strong core of returning players, but not who would lead them.
Davis was named coach after Gerald Barnes turned the job down. The first-year coach directed praise to his players.
"Really, we're fortunate," Davis said. "We had a lot of returners who came back, and guys who knew what was expected."
Barnes said all along that the season needed to be played out before anyone was prematurely seeded by the media or fans. The Patriots were reminded again Wednesday.
The Bulldogs' win means today's rematch -- a makeup game rescheduled after an early rainout -- will decide the No. 3 and No. 4 seed. Winner is third, loser is fourth. Both will play on the road to open the Class AAAA playoffs.
"I think we understood we needed to come up here and play, and that all of those things take care of themselves if you play well," Barnes said.
Harlem poured it on days after a loss to Lakeside ended the Bulldogs shot at one of the region's top two seeds.
"We needed a victory to get back on track a little bit for the playoffs," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said.
The Bulldogs trailed 5-2 entering the bottom of the fourth but scored 11 runs the next three innings to break it open.
The Patriots put together a two-out rally in the sixth, but pitcher Michael Brewster entered and got a strikeout to end the inning.
Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165 ext. 116 or email@example.com.