With back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, the formula was simple for the Lakeland Union High School boys' basketball team. Win the two games and possibly earn a three seed in the upcoming WIAA playoffs. Drop one of the games and Saturday night's opponent Merrill will most likely get the three seed and Lakeland would drop to a four. With Tomahawk coming in Friday at 1-8 in the conference, it appeared the Hatchets would be the easier of the two contests with Saturday's game against Merrill a defacto playoff game with the winner earning the three seed. But Tomahawk had other ideas as they came into LUHS and gave the Thunderbirds a game all the way until the final buzzer with Lakeland coming out on top 43-39 in a hard-fought win. The Hatchets showed early on that they would not just be a bump in the road for Lakeland on the way to the date with Merrill. Tomahawk played tough defense and made enough shots to take a 10-7 lead after the first period. In the second quarter, Lakeland grabbed the momentum as Dewey Goff hit a three point basket with seconds left on the clock to give Lakeland at 23-19 lead going into the locker room. The game would again seesaw back to the Hatchets in the third period as Tomahawk took the lead at the end of the third at 33-31. The game would continue to swing back and forth as the two teams battled for control of the game. A key play came with about a minute and a half remaining as Lakeland lead by two and forced a Tomahawk turnover. The ball squirted its way down the court as bodies from both teams dove in order to corral it. It was Goff again that made the big play as he got his hand on the loose ball and shoveled it to Bryon Andrews on the block. Andrews rose above the scrum and put the ball in the hole to put Lakeland up four. Tomahawk would answer to pull within two but Andrews would hit two free throws with five seconds left to put Lakeland back up by four and seal the win. Tom Bruckner led Lakeland in scoring with 16 points, while Matt Hartzheim added 10. The Thunderbirds will now face Merrill Saturday with the three seed in the upcoming WIAA regional on the line. The Blue Jays won the first meeting between these two teams back in December. For more on Friday's game, see the Tuesday print edition of The Lakeland Times.