Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 27, 2013

Lowndes sweeps Valdosta

VALDOSTA — Three weeks ago, the Valdosta Wildcats demolished the Lowndes Vikings by 41 points. Saturday night was a different story. Much different.

Lowndes’ boys basketball team pulled off a big upset on Saturday, defeating Valdosta 64-60 at the LHS gym.

The Vikings outscored the Wildcats 27-15 in the fourth quarter, and rallied from an eight-point deficit to earn their first win over their crosstown rivals in nine games.

“I am so proud of these kids,” Lowndes head coach Kingston Clark said. “When we were down by 10 late in the game, not one player dropped their head. ... We came with a whole lot of confidence. The last game, we kind of just dropped our heads; we didn’t fight. Well we fought tonight.”

Entering the game, Valdosta (15-5) sat at the top of the Region 1-6A standings with an 8-0 record. Lowndes was struggling, with only an 11-9 record, and had lost seven of its last nine games. So the Wildcats were huge favorites.

But the Vikings refused to lay down and concede victory to the Wildcats. On Saturday, they came ready to play.

“Before the game, I said to (my seniors), ‘Look, you’re on your home court. Don’t leave here without ever having that taste of beating your crosstown rivals,’” Clark said. “Justin (Williams) was the first player to run up to me, with about five seconds (left) and say, ‘Coach, we’ve got it. I told you we were going to get it.’ That determination was a factor in the game.”

The two teams went back and forth for the first two quarters. The Wildcats headed to the locker room with a three-point lead, 30-27, after a Tra Barrett three-pointer in the final minute of the half.

Early in the third quarter, Valdosta went on a 10-1 run, which turned a one-point lead into a 10-point lead, 39-29. Coy Roberts had seven of the Wildcats’ 10 points. Lowndes cut into that lead near the end of the third quarter. But then, as the buzzer was about to sound, Valdosta point guard Rashad Lewis took a shot from about 65 feet away — and put it right in the middle of the basket. That gave the Wildcats an eight-point lead, 45-37, with eight minutes left to play.

But Lowndes refused to throw in the towel.

With less than six minutes to play, Valdosta held a 10-point lead, 50-40. That’s when things changed.

First, Lowndes’ Eric Henderson drove to the basket, made his shot, got fouled and made the free throw. The next time down the floor, Williams drained a three-pointer. Lowndes got the ball back, and Williams tried another three-pointer. He missed, but one of the officials ruled he had been fouled while shooting. So Williams went to the line and sank all three free throws.

In a span of 50 seconds, Lowndes had turned Valdosta’s 10-point lead into a one-point lead.

Then with 3:35 remaining, Williams stole the ball and raced in for a layup, giving the Vikings their first lead of the second half, 51-50.

The teams then traded baskets for the next couple of minutes. With 1:12 left to play and the score tied 58-58, Henderson drove the lane and scored, putting Lowndes back on top, 60-58. At the other end of the court, Lewis was fouled and made one of two free throws. Then Lowndes made a long pass to beat Valdosta’s full court press, and Tremayne Tippins scored on a layup to make it 62-59.

Valdosta’s Clarence Smith tried a three-pointer at the other end of the court. A defender made contact with Smith as he shot, and the shot fell short, but no foul was called. Tippins got the rebound, and Lowndes called a timeout. Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes was furious that no foul had been called, and angrily voiced his displeasure. But the call stood.

Lowndes made a free throw, then Valdosta made a free throw. Then Tippins put the game away with a free throw with 7.9 seconds left in the game.

Henderson led the Vikings with 20 points. Williams added 17 points. The two players combined for 21 of Lowndes’ 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Smith led Valdosta with 21 points, but he was the only Wildcat to score in double figures. Lewis, who had scored 37 points last Tuesday against Colquitt County, was held to seven points by the Vikings.

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