Valdosta’s basketball teams swept crosstown rival Lowndes in their Region 1-6A openers on Saturday night at the VHS gymnasium.
Valdosta’s boys dominated, winning 85-44. Valdosta’s girls built an early double digit lead, held it most of the game and earned a 54-47 win.
The Wildcats improved to 8-3, while the Lady ’Cats are now 11-1. The Vikings dropped to 9-5, while the Vikettes are now 11-3.
Valdosta boys 85, Lowndes 44
The Wildcats led their game practically from start to finish. They grabbed an early lead, and led 17-11 after one quarter. Then they extended that lead to 13 points, 37-24, at halftime.
But early in the third quarter, Lowndes started to rally. Justin Williams made a basket, then Kenny Moore stole the ball and raced down the court for a layup, cutting Valdosta’s lead to 39-30. Almost immediately after that, Lowndes forced another turnover, and Moore was fouled while taking a shot.
Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes had seen enough. He quickly called a timeout, called his players over and expressed his displeasure to them. Then he made some adjustments.
“We weren’t playing well (at that point),” Haynes said. “So I switched up the defense, went with (another defensive scheme) and we started playing better.”
They started playing a lot better.
Moore missed both free throws, and VHS rebounded the second miss. Valdosta’s Colin Kirkpatrick and Williams traded baskets, making the score 41-32.
Then the Wildcats caught fire, and took over the game.
On back-to-back-to-back possessions, Valdosta’s Clarence Smith, Rashad Lewis and Jan Zeman got the ball behind the arc and drained three-pointers. After Zeman’s three-pointer, Lewis stole the ball and took it in for a layup. Twenty-one seconds and a Lowndes miss later, Smith buried another three-pointer.
In a span of less than two minutes, Valdosta had scored 14 straight points, and turned a nine-point lead into a 23-point lead (55-32).
Moore made a free throw for Lowndes. But then Lewis and Smith converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions, completing a 20-1 run for the Wildcats and giving them a 61-33 lead.
“We got hot,” Haynes said.
Valdosta would also score the final eight points of the third quarter. Heading into the final quarter, the Wildcats held a 37-point lead, 75-38.
Because Valdosta’s lead was so large, the fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes. Haynes let his reserves play the rest of the game.
Smith led the Wildcats with 26 points, while Lewis scored 23 points.
Eric Henderson was the only Lowndes player who scored in double figures. He had 11 points.