Payne Unable to Play, Lightning Bounced from SBL Playoffs
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Looking for their third consecutive appearance in the State Basketball League (SBL) Finals (Australia), the Lakeside Lightning fell to Perry Lakes in the best-of-three semifinal round.
In the opening game, former USC Upstate standout Luke Payne (2004-08) scored 27 points as he connected on nine of his 20 attempts (including four three pointers). He also sank five of six free throw attempts. The Lightning were unable to counter the double-double of Anthony Lee (38 points, 14 rebounds) as Perry Lakes claimed the 78-76 win in game one (Aug. 13).
Lakeside forced a decisive game three with a 92-88 victory on Aug. 19. Payne scored 13 points in the contest before leaving the contest with a broken foot. Perry Lakes took game three, 84-71 (Aug. 20), and advanced to the SBL Grand Finals.
Payne finished his third season of professional basketball as the team's leader in points (27.1 ppg), field goals made (269), field goal attempts (613), three-point field goals made (98), three point field goal attempts (265), free throws made (177) and free throw attempts (233). His 27.1 points per game placed him in a tie for fourth in the SBL.
Payne got off to a slow start to begin the 2011 campaign as he scored seven points in the season opener and four points a week later. He reached double-figures with 15 points against the Perth Redbacks in the third contest of the season. That began a streak of 24 straight games of double-digit scoring for Payne and he finished the regular season with 23 consecutive games of 20 or more points.
The former Spartan guard posted a new career-high with 50 points on July 1st in a 100-86 victory over Rockingham. He connected on a season-best 19 field goals (27 attempts) against the Flames. Payne also connected on a season-high 11 three pointers (13 attempts).
Lakeside finished the regular season 24-2 overall and won its final 16 regular season games. Payne helped keep the streak alive with a buzzer beater against the Mandurah Magic on July 15th (W, 113-111).
Payne played for his father, Eddie Payne, at Upstate for four years 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.