By Christian Malone and Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times
Griffin’s boys basketball team overcame a 16-point deficit to win its game, the girls team from Valdosta dominated its game and both of Lowndes’ teams earned victories on Tuesday night, on the second day of the Charles Cooper Memorial Tip-Off Tournament at Lowndes High School.
The Lady Wildcats and the Vikettes both went 2-0 in the tournament, while the Lowndes and Valdosta boys teams were 1-1.
Griffin boys 71, Valdosta 67
With just over four minutes left in their game on Tuesday, the Griffin Bears trailed by 16 points. Then they caught fire, staged a huge comeback and came away with a victory.
Griffin outscored Valdosta 26-5 in the final 4:05, and rallied to beat the Wildcats 71-67 on Tuesday night.
“Griffin competed. They beat us,” Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes said. “They outplayed us, they competed harder than us and they just beat us. ... They got hot. They hit some shots. If you get your team to play hard and you start making shots, the game can change.”
With 4:20 left in the game, Valdosta’s Colin Kirkpatrick made a layup, giving the Wildcats a 62-46 lead. At that point, things were looking real good for Valdosta. But that would quickly change.
The Bears suddenly caught fire, and reeled off 11 straight points. They got a layup, a free throw and a pair of three-pointers, then J.R. Ellis stole the ball and raced in for a layup. All of a sudden, Valdosta’s 16-point lead was down to six, 63-57.
Valdosta’s Jason Robertson made a free throw, but Griffin answered with a three-pointer at the other end. Then Ellis drove the lane for a layup, and Valdosta’s lead was down to two, 64-62, with 2:03 left in the game. Valdosta’s Rashad Lewis and Griffin’s Moses Mayes traded a pair of free throws, then Ellis stole the ball, raced in for a layup and tied the score at 66-66 with 1:32 left.
Keyonte Scruggs briefly gave Valdosta the lead with a free throw nine seconds later. But that would be the Wildcats’ final point of the game.
With 46.1 seconds left, Ellis sank two free throws, putting Griffin ahead for good, 68-67. Then he made another free throw with 21 seconds left, and after VHS turned the ball over, he put the game away with two more free throws with 6.6 seconds to play.
Ellis scored 11 points in Tuesday’s game. All of them came in the final 3:13. Mayes had a huge night, scoring 32 points for the Bears, including six points during the fourth-quarter comeback.
Until Griffin’s comeback, the game had been controlled by Valdosta most of the way. The Wildcats built a 12-point halftime lead, 40-28, and led 55-39 at the end of the third quarter.
Kirkpatrick led the Wildcats with 17 points. Clarence Smith scored 14 points, and Lewis added 13 points.
Valdosta girls 64, Griffin 29
The Lady Wildcats grabbed an early lead, dominated much of the game and earned a 35-point victory on Tuesday.
“I’m glad we won,” Valdosta head coach E.A. Wilcox said. “We’re trying to improve in all aspects.”
After a slow start, Valdosta took the lead in the early minutes, built on that lead in the second quarter and headed to the locker room with a 27-12 halftime lead.
The Lady Wildcats returned to the court after halftime, and dominated the third quarter, outscoring Griffin 22-7. They stopped pressing and went to a halfcourt man-to-man defense. They stole the ball several times, got some easy baskets in transition and doubled their lead in the period.
“We made layups, we made shots and we got easier shots,” Wilcox said. “We sat in a halfcourt defense, in a man-to-man, and played tough (defense).”
Valdosta led 49-19 after three quarters, and cruised to a 35-point win.
Stormm Phillips and Tatyanna Randall led the Lady Wildcats with 14 points apiece. Tiaera Phillips scored 11 points and Shaneika Smith added 10. Ten different players scored for Valdosta on Tuesday.
The Lady Wildcats will travel to Albany to face Westover on Friday and Monroe on Saturday.
Lowndes boys 65, Howard 39
The Lowndes boys basketball team used a strong first quarter and strong defense to secure a 65-39 win over the Howard Huskies Tuesday night.
Nine different Viking players scored in the win, including Tremayne Tippins who led the way 25 points and six rebounds. Justin Williams finished with 10 points and four assists.
Led by Tippins’ 10 points in the opening quarter, Lowndes raced out to a 17-2 lead before allowing a 3-point play to Howard at the end of the first quarter.
Lowndes pushed its lead to 20 points (35-15) by halftime and 24 points (51-27) by the end of the third quarter.
With the win, the Lowndes boys improved to 2-2 on the season.
Lowndes girls 34, Warner Robins 26
It wasn’t pretty but it worked. The Lowndes Vikettes improved to 3-1 on the season, beating Warner Robins 34-26 in a low-scoring, turnover prone game on the final day of the Charles Cooper Memorial Tip-off Classic Tuesday night.
The Vikettes trailed just once — at the 2:14 mark of the first quarter — but quickly responded on the following possession and slowly separated themselves from Warner Robins.
Lowndes struggled from 3-point range, connecting on just one three-pointer all night. The Vikettes started 0-13 from downtown and didn’t connect on a long range shot until the 1:21 mark of the third quarter.
After taking a 6-5 lead with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter, Lowndes slowly built onto its lead, taking a 20-12 advantage into halftime.
Neither team could find the basket in the third quarter. The two teams combined for just nine points in the frame, six of which came from Lowndes.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Lowndes maintained its lead.
Seven different Vikette players scored from the floor on the night. Lexus Miller finished with a team-high nine points, while Coretta Haddin added seven.
The Vikettes finished 12 of 21 from the free throw line on the night.