The Valdosta girls basketball team left it all out on the floor Friday night as they pulled off a 66-50 comeback win against the Lowndes Vikettes in Region 1-AAAAAA play. While the start of the game was delayed, the crowd showed up in full force to watch both teams play.
Led by Tiaera Phillips with 20 points, the Wildcats had three players hit double digits in the win. Desinee Arnold put up 13 points, while Carolina Alexander made 16 points. For the Vikettes, team leader Di’eara DeLoatch put up 13 points, followed by Taffany Smith with 10 points.
Going into halftime, Arnold hit a half-court jumper to send the Wildcats into the half down by just five, with the Vikettes holding a 31-26 lead.
“We were up lifted by Arnold’s halftime shot before the buzzer, it gave us momentum,” VHS coach Ed Wilcox said. “We had a few adjustments to make and we did it. My girls played extremely hard tonight and I’m proud of them.”
The Wildcats were down the entire game until six minutes remained in the third quarter, when a Phillips bucket gave them a 35-33 lead. They wouldn’t trail again.
The Wildcats went on a 13-4 run and moved to a 53-45 lead with just less than five minutes remaining in the game. Alexander scored the last basket for the Wildcats as the final seconds rolled off the clock, pushing their record to 14-7. The Vikettes fell to 13-7.
“We are at a stage in our season where we must be determined to push through adversity,” Vikettes coach Brittany Ferguson said. “There are many times when strategy is tossed out the window and we must rely on heart and determination. We will continue to learn and grow, while capitalizing on our principals, defense, and rebounding.”
Both teams struggled with turnovers however, giving up close to 10 each.
“There will be nothing positive that comes from turning the ball over like we did tonight,” Ferguson said. “Some can be accredited to Valdosta’s defense, but a majority of them was bad decision making on our part. We have to value each possession.”
Said Wilcox: “I think we had fewer turnovers tonight than the first time we played, and I think we caused a lot of turnovers tonight by the way we played defense and blocking the shooting lanes. We did a good job making the baskets we needed tonight too.”
Valdosta boys 74
Lowndes boys 43
The Wildcats were led by Rashad Lewis and his 26 points, followed by Elliot Ingram who put up 12 points.
“It was gratifying to me to see my team play so well,” Wildcats coach Antonio Haynes said. “For them to go out there and win, after working so hard the past few days, I’m proud.”
The Vikings were led by Eric Henderson in scoring but were unable to get things rolling as a team.
After going on a 17-6 run to start the game, the Wildcats were efficient from the field in scoring and kept their intensity on defense for the entire game.
Going into the half, the Wildcats held a 39-23 lead and forced the Vikings to re-tool their game strategy.
After coming out after the half, the Vikings were able to put up just 12 points and it was not enough to stop the Wildcats from scoring 18 points in the third to push their lead to 57-35 as the third quarter came to an end.
“In preparation for our next games, we are going to work on our defensive intensity and communication,” said Haynes. “We are going to take it one game at a time for the rest of the season and keep getting better.”
Next up for the Vikings will be a battle against Colquitt County on Tuesday, while the Wildcats will face Coffee on Tuesday.