In the final regular season games before Christmas break, the varsity basketball teams from Brooks County and Lowndes met in Valdosta Tuesday night.
The Lowndes girls improved to 9-1 on the season with a 67-49 win over the Lady Trojans, while the Vikings used a massive second-half run to down the Trojans, 70-60.
Lowndes boys 70, Trojans 60
Led by Eric Henderson, the Vikings put together a 23-3 run across the closing minutes of the third quarter and the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to surge past the Trojans Tuesday night.
Trailing 40-39 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, the Vikings started their run with a two-pointer from senior Kenny Moore and reeled off 10 straight points until Brooks County converted a field goal with 33 seconds remaining in the quarter, bringing the score to 49-43, Lowndes.
“We came out, we just didn’t have team identity in the first half,” Lowndes boys’ coach Kingston Clark said.
“We had individuals that were out there trying to play basketball. I thought that was the difference in the last six games we’ve been playing, where we’ve been playing as one. I didn’t think, in the first half, we did that.”
The Vikings’ run continued into the fourth quarter, with Henderson, who scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, leading the way.
“By far, Eric is the most consistent player we have had all year long,” Clark said. “He comes out hard, strong and in the 10 games we’ve played, we know we can count on him.”
At the end of their run, the Vikings found themselves ahead 62-43, the largest lead of the night.
Brooks County ended Lowndes’ run with a 3-pointer, which cut the score to 62-46. From there, the Trojans outscored the Vikings 10-4, closing within 10 points, but couldn’t get any closer as Lowndes made several pivotal free throws down the stretch.
Along with Henderson’s 20 points, senior Tremayne Tippins finished with 19 points for the Vikings. Deric Herring led Brooks County with 14 points, while Art Slater added 12.
In a high-tempo first quarter, both teams were able to cash in on the long ball. Herring’s three-ball led the Trojans in the quarter, as the junior connected on three field goals from behind the arc to keep the Trojans within striking distance of the Vikings.
Meanwhile, the Vikings were aided by crafty down-low play from Tippins, who scored seven of Lowndes’ 20 points in the first quarter.
The Trojans continued their hot-shooting in the second quarter, while dialing up their defensive pressure. In the quarter, the Trojans used a commanding 15-4 run to grab a 29-24 lead.
“I thought Brooks did an excellent job,” Clark said. “They were prepared and ready to play. They had an excellent game plan coming in. We just didn’t seem like we were in it early.”
After the run, Tippins did his best to right the ship for Lowndes, scoring four of the Vikings’ final six points of the half to close the game within one, 31-30.
Despite Tippins’ efforts, the Vikings were limited to just two field goals in the second quarter. Brooks County added to its lead early in the third quarter, before giving way to the Vikings’ commanding 23-3 run.
Lowndes girls 67,
Brooks County 49
Tashia Brown scored a game-high 25 points and added 11 rebounds, while senior Coretta Haddin scored 14 points and finished with 12 rebounds to lead the Vikettes to a season-high 67-49 win over Brooks County.
“(Tashia and Coretta) have carried the load all year,” Lowndes girls’ coach Shan Garner said. “You’re talking about two very unselfish kids. Tashia, I mean how many shots could that kid take? I am just real impressed with how much she’s developed.”
Leading by just six points minutes into the third quarter, the Vikettes used a strong 15-4 run, which included an individual 5-0 run from Brown, to take a commanding 47-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The quarter proved to be too much for the Lady Trojans, as they never got within single digits inside the fourth quarter, despite attempts to slow the game down and send the Vikettes to the free throw line.
“If you’re playing someone that is going to give you zone, and you start throwing it in enough, I’ve convinced my guards they are going to get all the looks they want, because they are going to kick it back out,” Garner said. “Tashia is always looking to pass anyways. The game is played inside-out.”
The first quarter was close. The Vikettes led 9-8 at the end of the quarter, despite racing out to a 7-2 lead early in the frame.
After Brooks County took its only lead of the game just nine seconds into the second quarter, coming on a Yasmine Reynolds pair of free throws, Lowndes went on an 11-2 run, led by Haddin’s four points and a 3-pointer from the corner by Brown, to grab a 20-12 advantage.
“We might not be the most athletic team out there, but this team has come a long ways in 10 ball games,” said Garner of his team. “I think we are going to be another force to be reckoned with come region time.”
Then, Brooks County closed within five points with a 3-pointer off the glass by Carrie Grisson. That was the closest the Lady Trojans would get until closing within six points early in the third.
Lowndes extended its lead to double digits twice at the end of the second quarter, the first coming on a layup by Lexus Miller and the other on a free throw from Brown.
Grisson finished with a team-high 16 points for Brooks County, while Breyawna Brinson finished with 13.