LENA -- Lena-Winslow was tough, but Harvest Christian was tougher.
Playing before a raucous crowd on the Panthers' home floor, the Lions were the bigger cats on this night, overcoming a brief second-half deficit to win the Class 1A Lena-Winslow regional, 57-51.
Andre White, Jr., had 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists for Harvest. Brennen Woods added 14 points and 5 boards and JJ Flores scored 11 points.
Lena scored 5 straight points to cut a 7-point deficit down to 2 in the final minute, but White iced it with 4 straight free throws.
Lena scored the first 5 points of the second half, capping a 14-5 run and taking a 32-31 lead. But the Lions answered with an 8-1 spurt of their own to take the lead for good.
"We just kept our cool," said White, Jr. "We were just forcing a lot. They weren't doing anything special. They took a couple of good charges, but it was just us. We were forcing a lot."
Still, the Panthers wouldn't go away, gamely defending their home court. They got within 39-38, and within 2 points 4 times in the fourth quarter.
Despite being the top seed, the Lions had to drive nearly 2 hours to play the Panthers on their home court. But they were able to battle through the adversity to come away with the title.
"It's very exciting," said Harvest coach Andre White, Sr. of the regional title. "It's like a feeling that you never felt before. I'm just proud of our guys, how they still fought through even though we felt that certain things didn't go our way. That's life, and I just love how they battled back and kept our composure."
Panthers freshman Isaiah Bruce was a thorn in the Lions' side all night. The big man finished with 23 points, although no other Panther reached double figures. Ty Chrisman had 9 points off the bench.
With White and Woods on fire from outside, the Lions shot 54 percent for the game. Woods scored 12 of his points on 3-pointers and White added a pair from beyond the arc.
Harvest took its biggest lead of the first half at 26-18 on a 3-pointer by Brennen Woods off an assist from Colin Woods. The Panthers got within 28-27, but White nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lions a 4-point lead going into the locker room.
Harvest took the air out of the ball a couple of times in the second half to try to pull the Panthers out of their zone defense. They were able to drive inside a couple of times before kicking out to Brennen Woods for open 3s. The second one put Harvest up 39-33 late in the third but, as they did so often on the night, the Panthers scored 5 straight to trail by just 1 after 3 periods.