Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta State Blazers made a statement against conference rival West Georgia, defeating the Wolves 88-55 to move to 14-9 (8-9 Gulf South Conference).
The Blazers scored first and led the entire game.
“I think every conference game is huge. Obviously with the rivalry between West Georgia, it brings a little more to the table, from the student section to the fans, and our guys were ready,” said coach Mike Helfer.
Senior Jeremy McKay lead the Blazers with 18 points and Junior Jalen Crawford added 14 points and six assists.
Junior Colin Cook chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds. Senior David Murray also was beneficial to the Blazers' rebound game, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 13 points on the strength of three 3-pointers. Sophomore Blake Justice finished the night with 14 points and four steals as the Blazers rolled by West Georgia.
“We were just working on getting the extra pass maybe to get a little better shot, and our kids did that. We got some open shots as opposed to contested ones and that changed our percentages,” said Helfer.
The Blazers went into the half leading 35-26, and came out after the half with a barrage of 3-point shots to continue to extend their lead.
Deonta Stocks scored 14 points to lead West Georgia, while Phillip Flowers scored 11. The Wolves made 19 of 61 shots bringing their shooting percentage to a mere 31.1 percent.
“I think we just looked for our teammates. Instead of forcing it, we were looking to find a better shot. If we continue to do that, we will be hard to guard,” added Helfer.
The Blazers last home game will be Saturday at 8 p.m. as they battle the Shorter Hawks.
West Georgia women 62
Valdosta State 59
The Blazers fought hard in a tight game against conference rival West Georgia, falling to the Wolves on a 3-point buzzer-beater by Nicole Fasik.
The buzzer-beater was the Wolves' third in February, previously knocking off Delta State and West Alabama with game-winners.
On the strength of Amy Duke’s 16 points, the Blazers kept the game close the entire time, leading to nine ties and five lead changes.
Duke also had 12 rebounds, making her the first Blazer to achieve a double-double all season.
“We didn’t make enough shots, bottom line,” said coach Kiley Hill. “We didn’t make enough defensive stands. We did not do a good enough job for the last three seconds of the game and bottom line, we had a chance to close it out, we didn’t do it, and they got the ball, shot, and got nothing but net.”
Junior April Thomas led the team with 17 points, but it was not enough to hold off the Wolves.
Shooting 36.7 percent from the field, the Blazers left a lot of points on the court. The Blazers were only able to connect on 53.3 percent of their free throws, while the Wolves excelled in that area, knocking down 77.8 percent of theirs.
“Free throws were the different in this game. Instead of a two-point halftime lead, we could have been up by six or eight,” said Hill.
The Blazers will face the Shorter Hawks on Saturday at 6 p.m.