The Valdosta Daily Times
The Lowndes varsity basketball teams each avoided 0-3 starts in Region 1-AAAAAA Tuesday night by sweeping Colquitt County.
The Vikettes edged out a 67-65 win in triple-overtime, while the Vikings beat the Packers 54-48.
The Vikettes overcame three final-minute deficits across three different overtime periods and a final-minute deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Lady Packers 67-65.
“It is credit to the kind of kids they are,” Vikettes head coach Shan Garner said. “Coming into the season, I questioned a little bit of our resolve to handle some of these situations and my kids proved me wrong — in particular, Lexus (Miller), Asha (Jordan-Hayes), Mercy (Gillion-Gant). I had some questions about them, but they made a believer out of me tonight.”
After being benched for nearly eight minutes earlier in the game, it was Gant who redeemed herself and made Garner a believer.
With the Vikettes trailing by one, Gant hit the game-winning three-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining to lift Lowndes to the win and its first region win of the season.
“I benched her for eight minutes and I put her back in and she hits the game-winning three,” Garner said, in amazement. “I got into her real hard, but she didn’t pout. She sat there and said, ‘yes, sir. I understand. I’ll do better.’”
Gant followed up her game-winning shot by intercepting Colquitt County’s inbound pass to seal the victory, following a time-out by the Lady Packers with 2.2 seconds remaining.
The triple-overtime deficit wasn’t anything new to Lowndes. The Vikettes also trailed inside the final-minute of regulation, but used a field goal from Tashia Brown with 13 seconds remaining to force the game into overtime tied at 50-50.
Then in the first overtime session, Colquitt County built a lead 54-52 lead with 52 seconds remaining, but senior Coretta Haddin connected on a shot from the paint with the seconds ticking to even the score at 54-54.
Things got even more interesting in the second overtime period, when Colquitt County drilled an apparent game-winning three-pointer with seconds remaining. After Lowndes was unable to score on its following possession, the clock expired.
Before the teams could shake hands, the referees confirmed the Lady Packers’ shot was actually a two-pointer, not a three-pointer. The scoreboard was fixed to reflect the correct score and the game went into triple overtime tied at 58-58.
The decision came at the dismay of Colquitt County fans, including one that was asked to leave the gymnasium for the remainder of the night.
“It was everyone tonight; It was Coretta Haddin. It was a freshman off the bench (Delaney Edwards) who didn’t play until the fourth quarter and she goes in and ties the game up (in the first overtime),” Garner said, of his team.
The Vikettes overcame several obstacles on the night, including a 34-point effort by Colquitt County’s Makeba Ponder, and their inability to get to the foul line, thanks largely because of the lack of foul calls against Colquitt County.
Through the second half and overtime, only five fouls were called against Colquitt County, which didn’t allow the Vikettes to shoot a single one-and-one throughout the entire 28 minutes of play following halftime.
“I’m going to say, it is a tribute to the fact that we shot a lot of jump shots and I am going to leave it there, for integrity sake,” Garner said. “I respect those guys, a couple of them in general. They’ve called my games for almost two decades, but be that it may, you can’t play 28 minutes and never get in the bonus. And I know they were full-court pressing, so that is tough for me to stomach.”
The lack of fouls called against Colquitt County, mixed with the amount of fouls called against Lowndes, allowed the Lady Packers to dig themselves out of a 13-point third-quarter deficit, the largest lead of the game for either team.
Tashia Brown finished with a game-high 20 points, 13 rebounds for the Vikettes. Gant finished with 11 points, while Lexus Miller and Haddin each finished with nine points.
“That was a pretty intense effort by so many kids,” Garner said. “We tried so many times to give the game away. They never quit, though. They never quit. They didn’t quit in Valdosta or Tifton and they didn’t quit tonight. Their court time has been limited and they are brand new to Region 1-AAAAAA.”
Lowndes boys 54, Colquitt County 48
Justin Williams scored 14 points, including several big three-pointers late in the fourth quarter, to lead the Vikings past Colquitt County 54-48.
Alan Urrutia finished with 10 points, including eight in the first half, as head coach Kingston Clark played several bench players more than usual in a way to mix up his lineup.
“They brought in a little energy for us,” Clark said. “We had to bring them in. We had lost four in a row and I told them it was time to make some time of change. It was time to get more guys opportunities. I gave guys the opportunity to come in and get a shot and they responded.”
While starter Eric Henderson finished with 10 points, going 8 of 10 from the free-throw line, bench player Chris Hill mixed in well with Urrutia and finished with nine points on the night.
Both Lowndes teams host Camden County Friday night.