Payne Leads Lakeside Into SBL Semifinals
Spartanburg, S.C. – Former USC Upstate standout and Spartanburg High School graduate Luke Payne averaged 23.5 points in two games to lead the Lakeside Lightning to a sweep of the East Perth Eagles in the quarterfinals of the State Basketball League playoffs in Australia.
Payne, who graduated from Upstate in 2008, led Lakeside to the SBL Championship last year and was the Most Valuable Player of the Grand Final. He and the Lightning are looking to win back-to-back championships and got off to a good start in the best-of-three quarterfinal series against East Perth.
In game one, Payne scored 25 points and posted four rebounds and four assists to lead Lakeside to a 98-76 victory over East Perth on July 31. A week later, he scored 22 points with four rebounds and four steals to lead the Lightning to a 105-87 victory over the Eagles to sweep the series, 2-0. He averaged 23.5 points and four rebounds per game in the series.
With the sweep, Lakeside advanced into the semifinals of the SBL playoffs to face the Perth Redbacks. Game one of the best-of-three series will be played on Friday. Lakeside was 1-1 against Perth during the regular season with the teams winning on each other's court. Payne averaged 24 points in the two contests with the Redbacks.
Payne helped lead Lakeside to a 21-5 record and the league's best record in the regular season in the SBL this year.
Despite a nagging hip injury that caused him to miss one game midway through the season, Payne has been one of the most productive players in the league. He ranks second on the team and fourth in the league in scoring with 640 points, averaging 22.9 points per game. He leads the team in three-pointers made and is third in assists. He has topped the 20-point mark in 19 games this season, including a career-high 45 in the 120-103 victory over the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Payne was a four-year standout playing for his dad, Eddie Payne, at Upstate from 2004-08 and was named the male Student-Athlete of the Year as a senior. He averaged 11.6 points for his career and finished his four years ranked ninth all-time in scoring with 1,381 points. As a senior, he averaged 14.9 points in leading Upstate in its first year playing on the NCAA Division I level and in the A-Sun in 2007-08. He was named to the all-tournament teams at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas. He became the first Upstate basketball player to earn weekly honors from the A-Sun, earning player of the week honors following Upstate's win at SMU in December of 2007. He was also a standout in the classroom, earning first team ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors as a senior. He was a three-time member of the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Honor Roll and a member of the A-Sun All-Academic team in 2007-08.