Lofton’s late scoring lands Le Mans in finals

JARED MACDONALD - [email protected]
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Chris Lofton will be playing for another title.

The Mason County graduate, who led the Royals’ to their first basketball title in school history, will be playing in the French Ligue Nationale de Basket Jeep ELITE playoffs after scoring 13 points in overtime to push Le Mans Sarthe past SIG Basket Strasbourg on Saturday, 85-79.

The two teams finished the fourth quarter of the best-of-five semifinal series tied, 66-66, before Strasbourg took a 68-67 lead. Lofton knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:13 remaining in the extra period to give Le Mans back the lead.

Strasbourg retook the lead with 1:39 to play, 74-73, but back-to-back triples from the Southeastern Conference career leader in 3-pointers made put Le Mans up five with under a minute left. Lofton knocked down four free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the victory and finish with 25 points. He went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc in the game and also brought down three rebounds in 33 minutes on the court.

Strasbourg took the first game of the series, 76-66, but Lofton’s 19 points in game two led Le Mans to an 80-71 win. His team took the series lead with an 80-60 blowout victory in game three, but were unable to finish it off in game four, as Strasbourg won, 89-82.

Le Mans took a best-of-three quarterfinal series against Lyon-Lilleurbanne to reach the semifinals. After dropping the first game of the series, 81-68, Lofton went 6-for-11 from 3-point range and finished with 20 points to keep Le Mans’ season alive with a 72-67 win. They took the deciding game of the series, 79-68.

Lofton is averaging 11.4 points through his team’s eight playoff games. In the team’s five wins, the Mason County graduate is averaging 16.2 points.

They’ll begin the best-of-five championship series against top-seeded AS Monaco Basket on Wednesday. Monaco took their semifinal series against Limoges CSP in four games, after sweeping the quarterfinal series against Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez. The second game is scheduled for June 15, with game three to be played on June 18. If games four and five are needed, they’ll be played June 20 and June 24.

Lofton
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JARED MACDONALD

[email protected]