Valdosta Daily Times

February 21, 2014

 Wildcats travel to Douglas County for state opener

Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta High Wildcats head into the GHSA playoffs as the No. 4 team from Region 1-AAAAAA with a lot to prove.

With a 17-10 record, a fourth-place finish in the region tournament, and a regular season victory against region champion Tift County behind them, the Wildcats plan to move forward and win on the road, which they will have to do a lot if they want to bring home the championship.

“I just want my team to play hard, that’s all I ask. I know it will take a whole team effort to win each game,” said Valdosta High coach Antonio Haynes.

The Wildcats will face the Douglas County Tigers on Saturday at a time that stills needs to be determined in Douglasville in a matchup that places the Wildcats against the top team from Region 3-AAAAAA.

The Tigers boast a 21-5 record, whose five loses came by an average margin of 4.4 points. The Tigers average 61.8 points a game and shoot 68 percent from the free throw line and prove to be a dangerous threat for the Wildcats. The Tigers come into the playoffs ranked No. 9 in AAAAAA.

The Wildcats average 64.3 points a game, however their free throw percentage falls well below 50 percent, as they shoot 36 percent from the line.

“We want our guys to be able to step up to the line and make these shots,” said Haynes. “We pretty much just have to change our mindset when our guys step up to the line."

The Wildcats have a gem in senior Rashad Lewis however, who averages 19.3 points a game, and has the ability to take the game into his own hands at any given time.

“He’s really been great for us, especially since we ask so much of him," Haynes said. "He steps up to the plate and he doesn’t like to lose. If he, and the rest of the team can keep up to that standard, we will be fine."

Other players that will play a factor in the Wildcats' playoff journey include senior Anthony Smith, a big guy who can rebound and shoot. Smith averages 6.6 points a game, and adds an average five defensive rebounds.

Elliot Ingram averages 8.7 points a game, but adds a dangerous element for the Wildcats, a 35 percent 3-point percentage and the ability to get open.

Freshman Khalil McClain continues to be a headache for teams, averaging six points a game and 6.6 rebounds in only eight varsity games.